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Northeast Arizona Travel Guide

  • Photo: Peter Guttman/

Plan Your Northeast Arizona Vacation

Northeast Arizona is a vast and magnificent land of lofty buttes, towering cliffs, and turquoise skies. Most of the land in the area belongs to the Navajo and Hopi, who adhere to ancient traditions based on spiritual values, kinship, and an affinity for nature. Spend time at some of the region’s most spectacular sites, such as Canyon de Chelly, Lake Powell, and surrounding Glen Canyon, and

Monument Valley, and you’ll quickly come to appreciate why indigenous locals so revere the landscape.

Life here has changed little during the last two centuries, and visiting this land can feel like traveling to a foreign country or going back in time, although a handful of distinctive, inviting hotels have opened in the region in recent years, helping to entice overnight visitors aiming to venture off the beaten path without necessarily foregoing creature comforts.

In such towns as Tuba City and Window Rock it’s not uncommon to hear the gliding vowels and soft consonants of the Navajo language, a tongue as different from Hopi as English is from Chinese. As you drive in the vicinity, tune your radio to 660 AM KTNN (, the Voice of the Navajo Nation since 1985. You’ll quickly understand why the U.S. Marine Navajo "code talkers" communicating in their native tongue were able to devise a code within their language that was never broken by the Japanese.

In the Navajo Nation’s approximate center sits the nearly 2,350-square-mile Hopi Reservation, a series of adobe villages built on high mesas overlooking the cultivated land. On Arizona’s borders, where the Navajo Nation continues into Utah and New Mexico, the Navajo and Canyon de Chelly national monuments contain haunting cliff dwellings of ancient people who lived in the area some 1,500 years ago. Glen Canyon Dam, which abuts the northwestern corner of the reservation, holds back 185 miles of emerald waters known as Lake Powell.

Most of northeast Arizona is high desert, but it’s far from monochromatic: eerie and spectacular rock formations as colorful as desert sunsets highlight immense mesas, canyons, and cliffs; towering stands of ponderosa pine cover the Chuska Mountains to the north and east of Canyon de Chelly. Navajo Mountain to the north and west in Utah soars more than 10,000 feet, and the San Francisco Peaks climb to similar heights to the south and west by Flagstaff. According to the Navajo creation myth, these are two of the four mountainous boundaries of the sacred land where the Navajo first emerged from Earth’s interior.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Drive the rim roads at Canyon de Chelly Visit one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the Southwest—it rivals the Grand Canyon for jaw-dropping views, albeit on a much smaller scale. It’s a must for photography buffs.
  2. Go boating at Glen Canyon Get to know this stunning, mammoth reservoir by taking a boat out amid Lake Powell’s towering cliffs.
  3. Explore Hubbell Trading Post Take the self-guided tour to experience the relationship between early traders and the Navajo.
  4. Shop for handmade crafts on the Hopi Mesas Pick up crafts by some of Arizona’s leading Hopi artisans, who sustain their culture through continuous occupation of the ancient villages on these mesas.
  5. Take a jeep tour through Monument Valley See firsthand the landscape depicted in such iconic Western films as Stagecoach and The Searchers.

When To Go

When to Go

Festivals and Events September Navajo Nation Annual Tribal Fair. The world's largest Native American fair includes a rodeo, traditional...

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