This article was created in partnership with the Navajo Tourism Department, Arizona. All photos provided by the Navajo Tourism Department.
Traveling through the Navajo Nation in the American Southwest is a moving experience. While planning your trip, download a digital copy of their visitor guide for extra inspiration. In addition, be sure to review protocol and best practices before you embark.
Immaculately shaped walls glow shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple under the Arizona sun. Antelope Canyon is understandably one of the most interesting landscapes to photograph with rock walls that dance under the light. Guided tours are mandatory to access the canyon.
Many movies over the years popularized some of the most classic views in Monument Valley. Beyond the views though (and trust me, they’re insanely impressive!), there is so much more to explore in the Monument Valley Tribal Park. Make the most of your time in the area with a guide that can take you to out-of-bounds ancestral sights and rock formations.
The volcanic rock formation—Shiprock Pinnacle—stands strikingly against a barren New Mexico landscape. It is visible from miles around, and one of the most photographed features in the region. The peak itself is sacred to the Navajo, and should only be observed and photographed from a distance. Climbing and hiking near the peak is strictly forbidden.
This dreamland of bizarre landscapes is a true slice of American wilderness. Exploring the Bisti Badlands is a remote and rewarding experience. Notably, “egg” and “wing” shaped hoodoos, piles of petrified wood, and a complete color palette decorate the landscape. Before you run wild in these badlands, be sure to observe the region’s protocols. In other words, there are no facilities or signage in the area.
Canyon de Chelly
Beneath the towering canyon walls, Navajo families continue to live and farm the land, similar to their ancestors 5,000 years ago. Views from the rim of Canyon de Chelly (pronounced “can-yun duh shay”) are absolutely breathtaking! One short hike is available, and the experience can be further enhanced with a local Navajo guide.
Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park & Veteran’s Memorial
The Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park & Veteran’s Memorial is located on sacred ground of cultural and historical importance. There, a natural arch looks over a veteran memorial that recognizes soldiers who fell during World War II. In fact, the memorial identifies code-talkers who provided secure communication for the United States military.
Stay in Navajoland
Throughout the region there is a wide range of accommodations. While unzipping your tent to the monoliths of Monument Valley is quite gratifying, there are plenty of cozy hotels to settle into as well. Additionally, one of the more unique experiences in the region is to stay in a traditional Navajo hogan. Though sleeping in this sacred dwelling is more rustic, it will surely be a highlight of your vacation.
What to look for in Navajoland
Throughout the region, keep your eyes peeled for Navajo taco stands! This local treat combines fry bread (deep-fried dough), meat, cheese, vegetables, and special seasonings. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, this is a meal you don’t want to miss!
Arts and Crafts
Near most monuments and attractions, you’ll find tables set up with locals selling Navajo arts and crafts. Some of the most impressive art examples are found in trading posts that are located throughout the Navajo Nation. Truly, the best type of souvenir is a handmade one!
Find more ideas for your trip through the American Southwest here.