Arizona Stops on the Way

Explore Navajo

See an intimate glimpse into Navajo history and modern-day life at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba City or visit Navajo headquarters in a large hogan at Window Rock.

Slightly larger than West Virginia, Navajo country stretches across 27,000 square miles of a swath of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. When pandemic closures have lifted, begin your journey in Tuba City, Ariz., for an intimate glimpse into Navajo history and modern-day life.

Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba City, Ariz.

Start at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum where an introductory video gives you a foundation to begin perusing the museum. Originally created for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the exhibits feature kid-focused activities, plus a replica hogan you can explore.

Exhibit at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba City, Ariz.
Exhibit at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba CityPhoto by Donovan Hanley courtesy of Explore Navajo Interactive Museum

You’ll see hogans across the Navajo Nation, but you can’t go inside because they are privately owned by Navajo families. But in the museum you can walk into a hogan and ask a tour guide your questions.

Navajo Trading Post in Tuba City, Ariz.
Tuba City Trading PostNavajo Tourism Department

Next door is the historic Tuba City Trading Post, which was built in 1870 and sells authentic Native American jewelry, pottery and rugs. Don’t miss the exhibit on Navajo code talkers here. The U.S. Marines recruited Navajos to transmit messages in Navajo, which was perceived as a secret code, to defeat the Japanese during World War II.

Exhibit of Navajo soldiers during WWII, Navajo Code Talker Museum, Tuba City, Arizona.
Exhibit of Navajo Code Talker soldiers during WWII Dave Krause

Hungry? Eat at the Hogan Restaurant in the Quality Inn where you can sample traditional Navajo food like blue corn mush and mutton stew.

Then head to the internationally-recognized Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park where you can explore a cinematic landscape and sandstone park that appeared in many westerns and Hollywood movies.

View from Hunts Mesa in Monument Valley at the Arizona-Utah border.
View from Hunts Mesa in Monument ValleyShutterstock

The museum and trading post are at 10 N. Main St. in Tuba City; 928-283-5441; discovernavajo.com.

Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock Ariz.

Navaho Code Talker monument at Window Rock
Navajo Code Talker Monument at Window RockDavid Krause

If you have time, make a trip to Window Rock, Ariz., headquarters of the Navajo Nation Council Chamber, housed in a beautiful large hogan built in the 1930s. If the doors are unlocked, you can quietly slip inside, sit in the chairs against the wall and observe policymakers in action. Then visit the Navajo Nation Museum and Navajo Veterans Memorial Park.

Afterwards, explore Navajo Arts and Crafts for authentically made Navajo jewelry and for flea market finds. Navajo protocol to observe: Ask for permission before you take any photos and gratuity is appreciated.

“You’ll get authentically made Navajo jewelry, but we also have little outdoor stands like a flea market where Navajos buy and sell their stuff,” says Corrine Jymm of the Navajo Tourism Department.

The museum is at Highway 264 and Loop Road, Window Rock, Ariz., 86515; 928-871-7941; www.navajonationmuseum.org

Special Permit Required for Commercial Photography

Special permits are required when photographing for commercial use. If photographing on Navajo Tribal Park, contact the Navajo Parks & Recreation for a permit & the Navajo Nation TV & Film for all other photos.

More to See and Experience on Navajo Land

1. Four Corners Monument

Four Corners Monument is the only place in the U.S. where the corners of four states converge. Stand in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona all at the same time.

Be in four states at one time at the Four Corners Monument.
Be in four states at one time at the Four Corners Monument.Depositphotos

2. Iconic Rocks

See world-renowned rock formations at Antelope Canyon. View ancient geological formations at Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

Upper Antelope Canyon near Page Arizona
Upper Antelope Canyon near Page Ariz.Joshua Benally
Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly National MonumentDepositphotos

3. Lake Powell

Jump into Lake Powell with 186 miles of Navajoland shoreline.

Lake Powell
Lake Powell Photo: Depositphotos

4. Chocolate Falls

Splash at Grand Falls which looks like melted chocolate flowing over a mesa.

Arizona's Grand Falls (Chocolate Falls) at dusk.
Grand Falls (Chocolate Falls) at duskCharlie Stinchcomb/Flickr
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For more information:
Navajo Tourism Department
(928) 810-8501
P.O. Box 663, Window Rock, AZ
www.discovernavajo.com