Maybe you’ve driven through the Navajo Nation but didn’t know where to stop as 27,000 square miles of the reservation rolled out beyond your windshield. There are sandstone hills, red dirt roads and small clusters of houses that stretch across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.
To uncover all the sights you should see, head to Tuba City, Ariz., Monument Valley and Window Rock, Ariz. But before you go, be sure you’re in the loop of all COVID-19 precautions in place by checking the Navajo Nation website. Beginning Aug, 4, 2021, masks are required both indoors and outdoors on the reservation. Even if you are only stopping at the reservation to fill up your gas tank, you must wear your mask while pumping gas. Learn the most up-to-date reservation requirements at www.navajo-nsn.gov.
Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba City, Ariz.
Start at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba City, Ariz., 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.
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.
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. The museum and trading post are at 10 N. Main St. in Tuba City. Learn more at www.discovernavajo.com/discover-the-navajo-nation/museums/.
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. You’ll pay a fee to enter and sign a waiver. The monument is allowing private vehicles to enter the loop road, but it’s limited to 15 vehicles. Otherwise, stop in the visitor center and sign up to explore the loop road with a Navajo guide.
If you’re visiting Lake Powell, stop at the fun Stay Grounded, a black-colored coffee truck on Coppermine Road on the southern edge of Page, Ariz., approximately 1.5 miles south of the intersection of Hwy. 98 and Coppermine Road.
Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock Ariz.
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. Learn more at www.discovernavajo.com/discover-the-navajo-nation/museums/.
For a cup of coffee, head to Tsee Bii Sisters Coffee Co. in a red truck parked off of Hwy. 12 between Cocina de Dominguez and Mikasa 2. It’s not far from the Ace Hardware store.
Special Permit Required for Commercial Photography
Special permits are required when photographing for commercial use. If photographing on Navajo Tribal Park, visit navajonationparks.org/permits/commercial-film-photography/ for permits and more information.
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.
2. Iconic Rocks
3. Lake Powell
Jump into Lake Powell with 186 miles of Navajoland shoreline.
4. Chocolate Falls
Splash at Grand Falls which looks like melted chocolate flowing over a mesa.
For more information:
Navajo Tourism Department
P.O. Box 663, Window Rock, AZ