We departed Wahweap on March 29 heading to the Navajo National Monument. Our route and target destination was Cortez Colorado (made it) with a stop at the Navajo National Monument. It is a risky move to plan on camping at Navajo National Monument. The campground is small, tight and free.
If a person knows about Navajo National Monument, and stop at the visitor center, they will drive on and then camp at Monument Valley at a commercial campground developed back in the day of John Wayne westerns. Most people who camp at Navajo National Monument spend less than one day here, getting back on the road quickly, we planned three days and stayed four days.
It is not a surprise to anyone who knows me (and Tami to a much more limited extent) that I would plan to do the opposite of most people (except while driving on freeways). With luck, I wanted to stay at the monument and if it were possible, stay and explore not only the visitor center but the canyon. To me, it captured the right amount of adventure and the right amount of civilization.
Northwest of Tsegi
Actually, it would be a stretch to say that most people had even heard of Navajo National Monument and we have found that almost everyone who says they have heard of it — and even stayed there were wrong and confused it with Monument Valley. To say that Navajo National Monument is under the radar is a huge understatement. All of this captured my imagination even more. The more I knew about the place, the more I wanted to go there. The end of March seemed ideal. As for location, it is about halfway between Page Arizona and Mexican Water, Arizona, on a more refined scale it is northwest of Tsegi — between Shonto and Tseig but not on the main road. Lots of people couldn’t find Page or Mexican Water and would have a rough time finding this place. I have included a map, which won’t be much help if you are not familiar with northeast Arizona.
Betatakin Cliff Dwellings
As you might have guessed I’m not necessarily looking for places that are obvious. But just because they aren’t obvious, it doesn’t mean that they are not wonderful. Navajo National monument overlooks the Betatakin Cliff Dwellings, largely re-constructed and a great example of pre-pueblo culture I like it better than what we found in Mesa Verde National Park. Since we were staying at the monument, if we were lucky (and we were) there was a chance that a Navajo Guide would take us into the canyon, on foot, down about 700 steps. Jimmy was our guide and made the trek, down, and the stair-master back up, wonderful. I did everything I could do to keep up with him and was unable. NO, he wasn’t younger than me, but rather older and obviously tougher.
Here is a link to the google map for the area.
Link to our route Las Vegas to New Mexico
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