VISITING THE NAVAJO NATION - Native tour and photo essay


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  kavika  •  last year  •  22 comments

VISITING THE NAVAJO NATION - Native tour and photo essay

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Horseshoe Bend in Paige Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. ©Tachiinii Photography

Published July 9, 2019

Editor’s Note: This article was first published by . Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Last week, I took a road trip back home to the   Navajo Nation  with my friend AJ. As I shared with AJ, my tribal reservation is considered the largest in the United States and it covers three states: Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. This trip, I decided to visit a few Navajo Nation landmark places that I, as a tribal member have never visit — at all.

We left Los Angeles around 4 am and decided to drive through Las Vegas, take a short stop at Zion’s National Park then down into Paige, Arizona. As we got closer we saw blue among the red mesas, Yes! We were near  Lake Powell , which meant we would be driving towards  Glen Canyon Dam.


Glen Canyon Dam, Paige Arizona on the Navajo Reservation ©Tachiinii Photography


Glen Canyon Dam, Paige Arizona

The Glen Canyon Dam has a dark history with the Navajo people. I know that some of my relatives were forced to relocate when construction started in the 1940s. I also heard that many Navajo’s died while working on the Dam. More information can be shared here:  Glen Canyon Dam

Our next stop was visiting  Antelope Canyon  — a place I always wanted to visit and got more familiar with due to Instagram. All my life I heard about the canyon, but didn’t know the beauty of this canyon- and it was on my reservation. If you decide to visit, you’ll have to make reservations (funny saying that). Please book with my friends’ family touring company called  Ken’s Tours: Lower Antelope Canyon  — they are amazing and so helpful with booking a tour. Oh yeah, forgot to mention there are two types of tours; lower and upper. I had heard that the lower tour was better so we decided to do the lower tour.


Antelope Canyon — Lower Canyon ©Tachiinii Photography


Antelope Canyon, Paige Arizona

Our tour guide happened to be a Navajo woman who I found out is related to me through our Navajo clan system. (I’m starting to feel like – I’m home) All the tour guides at Antelope Canyon are filled with so much information about the canyon; the culture, the history, details to the canyon, etc… trust me, you’ll enjoy the tour.

Note:  You cannot film while touring the canyon, but you can take pictures. Also, try to take a water container that latches to your pants — you will thank me as you’ll be climbing up and down very narrow stairs. You cannot take backpacks during the tour, only a phone, a camera, and water are allowed. (FYI: Tip your tour guide, they will provide a ton of information, suggest settings with your camera, and even take photos of you)


Antelope Canyon, Paige Arizona

Our tour at Antelope Canyon was about an hour. The next stop was visiting a little area behind  Big Lake Trading Post  called “Navajo Village.” If you want to see traditional dwellings and learn a bit more about my culture, please stop by Navajo Village. The woman there (forgot her name) is very sweet.


Next up on our tour of Navajo was  Horseshoe Bend   which is about 5 miles away.   The city now charges to park there — it was $10. I heard there is a shuttle, but we didn’t have time to research, so we paid the $10 to park. Once you park, you’ll have to hike a little to get to Horseshoe Bend, so take some water with you. Once you reach the location you will see something so unreal in the desert.


Horseshoe Bend, Paige Arizona ©Tachiinii Photography

Yes, it is breathtaking and a bit scary. (Did I mentioned I was afraid of heights?) Well, if you are too — you now have been warned. I was hyperventilating when I saw people taking selfies for their social media accounts, including my friend AJ.

All I will say is please BE CAREFUL the sandstone can crumble at anytime.


AJ and I at Horseshoe Bend, Paige Arizona

After a day of hiking, learning about Navajo Culture and visiting sites we started our drive towards Flagstaff to the  Twin Arrows Navajo Casino and Hotel ,  which I highly recommend. Trust me, after hiking in the hot sun for over 3 hours and driving all day through California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona it is worth staying in a comfortable hotel. At the hotel, I ran into a friend (yes, Navajo’s are everywhere and I seem to run into one everywhere — I love being Navajo).

I love this hotel, and I hope you will to. While we stayed here, my friend AJ learned a bit more about my culture and he also tried a few different dishes of traditional  Navajo food  — which we both had for dinner and breakfast.


Twin Arrow Navajo Casino and Hotel, Flagstaff, Arizona

Sadly, we were only able to stay one night at Twin Arrows, but it was well worth it — as we were able to re-charge for our next adventure. While at the hotel, I highly suggest walking around and check out the beautiful southwest artwork. Also, there are signs all around providing information about the Navajo culture that ties into the structure of the hotel – it’s very interesting. Lastly, most of the art displayed throughout the hotel are from local Navajo artist.

Our next stop —  Monument Valley, Arizona   which is about a 3 hours drive toward the Utah, Arizona border. The drive was a bit long, and the temperature was definitely rising. So be prepared, it’s hot, dry and windy. Drink plenty of water, have lotion as your skin will dry up fast. Keep applying sunscreen as it was a scorching hot day that reached 108.


Monument Valley, Arizona ©Tachiinii Photography

This location is famous — it’s where many  Classic Hollywood Westerns were filmed. They do offer group tours into the valley, but we didn’t take any tours — only pictures and we did take a tour within the gift shop. Oh yeah, if you are looking for the Forrest Gump site — where he stops running, from the movie:  Forrest Gump   it’s about 20 mins away on the Utah side. Check it out if you have time, we didn’t, but we will next time around.


AJ and I looking fabulous at Monument Valley, Arizona.

Next stop the  Four-Corners  and  Shiprock New Mexico .


Four Corner: Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico

We made it to the  Four Corners  and it was still hot and windy.   It took us about an hour and 45 mins to get to four-states. The  Four-Corners Monument  is pretty small, but it does have local Navajo vendors selling artwork and memorabilia. To my surprise, I ran into another Navajo friend I hadn’t seen in years. (I think I shocked my friend AJ by seeing another Navajo friend hee-hee). Get your selfie by standing on all four states, it will be a great story to share and post on Instagram.

We got back on the road after a quick visit and tour. By now we’ve been on the road for over 6 hours. Our next place where we are staying is in  Red Valley, Arizona  where my family lives. On the way, we stopped in  Shiprock, New Mexico  where I grew up and went to high school.


Nighttime in the desert was amazing (billions of stars) if you love star-gazing you’ll love the Navajo Reservation. We started our day early and visit with the family in Red Valley, Arizona, but we had to get back on the road as we have an agenda to stick with, we needed to get to Window Rock, Arizona by 10 am.

Window Rock, Arizona ©Tachiinii Photography

We drove through Buffalo’s Pass, gave a morning offering to the creator, and I showed AJ  Wheatfields Lake  and campsite near Chinle. After 2 hours of site seeing the Lukachukai, and Chuska Mountains we finally got to Window Rock, Arizona, our  Navajo Nation Capital  where we planned to stay for the next few days. You will see why when you read my next article  Diné Pride   so look out for that article coming up soon.

After five days on the  Navajo Nation Reservation,  we started our journey back to Los Angeles. Next time around we will be visiting,  Canyon de Chelly   Chaco Canyon  and the  Anasazi Indian Ruins  in Colorado, Aztec and Flagstaff area. I’ll also have to visit my relatives at Second Mesa on the Hopi Reservation. (missed them this time around)


One last thing… we took I-40 and made a pit stop in  Winslow Arizona  to visit “ Standin’ on the Corner ” ya know the song by the  Eagles  “ Take it Easy .”

Take the stop and get your selfie, then afterward walk down a block and check out the amazing murals by some native artist including  Yancey Katoney . You’ll love the murals and the old town feeling. Check my Instagram of Yancey work at  Tachiinii Photography .


“Standin’ at the Corner” in Winslow, Arizona



Good bye and thank you in the Navajo language.



jrDiscussion - desc
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1  seeder  Kavika     last year

Sorry I was unable to size the photos. If you go to the SEEDED CONTENT you can see them in their proper size. 

One of the most unique places on earth with photo opportunities everywhere. 

A land that is both hostile and inviting and home to the Navajo Nation. 

One of my favorite place/photo...The Code Talkers memorial at Window Rock AZ. 

Semper Fi


Don Overton
1.1  Don Overton  replied to  Kavika @1    last year

How about places like the Bisti badlands

Bob Nelson
2  Bob Nelson    last year

Very nice. If I find a few minutes I'll post some monument Valley pics...

Vic Eldred
3  Vic Eldred    last year

Love those Pics and those are the kind of trips I love. Don't forget I live about 2,400 miles away from all of that, so that adds to the adventure part of it. That Casino & hotel would be a great place to stay, for me at least.

Added to the bucket list


3.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Vic Eldred @3    last year

This barely scratches the surface of what is there to see and experience. 

The oldest continuly inhabited town/village/city in the US is Acoma Pueblo NM. Having been lived in for over a 1,000 years.

4  sandy-2021492    last year

I went to New Mexico to visit my sister in Farmington in early June.  Saw Shiprock, Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde, the Aztec ruins (not really Aztec, as I'm sure Kavika knows), Salmon ruins, and Four Corners.  There were so many other things I wanted to see, but I only had a week.  Beautiful country.

4.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  sandy-2021492 @4    last year

That would be the Anasazi ruins, Sandy. 

The whole SW is an amazing place with the history dating back thousands and thousands of years. 

Vic Eldred
4.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4    last year

Believe it or not, I was in Farmington 3 years ago. One of only 3 places west of the Mississippi Iv'e ever been to - Farmington, Gallup and of course, Las Vegas.

4.2.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.2    last year

I've never been to Vegas.  I've been to Palm Springs (by way of LAX, a scary drive at rush hour).  And I've been to Texas a few times, to visit an aunt who lives there.  Fell in love with San Antonio and Galveston.

Vic Eldred
4.2.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.2.1    last year

Iv'e had my share of Vegas (part of a misspent youth).  I think I'd like to see Texas. I hope there is still plenty of wide open range land full of cattle and guys in Stetson hats and plenty of those Texas women. They say cities like San Antonio are growing rapidly. Galveston sounds like a different place. 

Here's to the Great West!


5  FLYNAVY1    last year

Just incredible photos Kavika.  Thanks so much for sharing.

Just added to our bucket list when we finally return to the US for good in a few months.

Thanks again! 

5.1  r.t..b...  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @5    last year
added to our bucket list

You'll love it Navy. Have taken the trip between Flagstaff and Cortez half a hundred times and find something more beautiful with each pass. At first seemingly stark...but the colors, the clouds and the vast horizon are truly unique. Catch it after a thunderstorm and the smell of the earth is intoxicating. Catch it in the middle of the night under a full moon and the silence is like a symphony. Catch it at sunrise or sunset and you will be left speechless. Catch it if you can...don't be on the clock, and simply appreciate your good fortune. Thanks for the seed, Kavika.

5.1.1  1stwarrior  replied to  r.t..b... @5.1    last year

You have hit it on the head with every bit of your description.

Spent a week in a hogan in Chinle' - hiking, talking with elders, regaining balance - am working on doing it again.

You can feel Mother Earth, the spirits, animals, Creator all talking to you - you just have to be open and listen and feel.

6  Enoch    last year

Dear Brother Kavika: Always enjoyed my time there, and with several Native American Nations.

Superlative photo essay.

Brings back fond memories for me.



Trout Giggles
7  Trout Giggles    last year

Stunning photos, Kavika! That Horseshoe Bend looks like it's telling me to throw a kayak in there and float.

I have a question about the Navajo dwelling. What is it made of  and why is there a dryer vent in the door?

7.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @7    last year
I have a question about the Navajo dwelling. What is it made of  and why is there a dryer vent in the door?

They are called ''Hogans'' and are made of clay/wood and tree bark. The door always faces east for the morning sun and good blessings. 

The dryer vent is for the dryer in the Hogan, easy peasy....LOLOLOL

Trout Giggles
7.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Kavika @7.1    last year
The dryer vent is for the dryer in the Hogan, easy peasy....LOLOLOL

Well, ask a stupid

Thanks! I didn't think they were made of mud because really, how much mud do you find in the desert?

7.1.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @7.1.1    last year

Much of what is built in the desert by natives is adobe (mudbrick) it's quite common mixed with straw it's quite strong. 

Release The Kraken
8  Release The Kraken    last year

Excellent pictures. I took the kids to New Mexico a few years back and they were obsessed with the early Indigenous history and Petroglyphs.

Good Stuff.

Split Personality
9  Split Personality    last year

Been to Winslow too many times, too many PCSs, lol

Excellent pictures, especially the sandstone's

10  MrFrost    last year

Amazing photos. Excellent seed, thanks! 


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