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Navajo Nation hike/drive
On a summer road trip to New Mexico and Colorado, we spent time exploring Window Rock and driving along Indian Route 12. At around 6800 feet elevation, the summer temps here are a great relief from the Phoenix heat, and you get great history and views to boot.
We spent the latter half of a rainy day reading the plaques at the Window Rock Tribal Park and Veterans Memorial and returned the following morning to hike with a bright, blue sky. We tried to get a hiking permit from the Navajo Museum Library & Cultural center, but they said we didn't need one for the short walk/hike we had planned. Just FYI, the nearby zoo and botanical gardens were closed when we visited.
If you take the well-worn path behind the restroom facilities, you will find a spur to the right at about a quarter-mile. There's no clear trail after a few hundred feet, but we ran into locals who told us how to get up into the opening of Window Rock. You scamper up the sandstone ledges until you see a stack of rocks (and quite a few beer bottles nearby). My husband and I tried like crazy to hoist ourselves up into the opening like we had seen kids do earlier in the day, but either we didn't have enough nerve or muscle to get up there.
So instead we turned north and climbed up some old hand/foot holds (don't look down!) and had a nice view of Indian Route 12 and the gorgeous red rock scenery. Since most of the surrounding area is private land and off limits to hiking, we were content to spend the rest of the day driving on IR 12 stopping to take in the remarkable terrain. Highlights of the drive: Red Lake, Green Knobs, Wheatfields Lake, Tsaille Butte, Dine College and bookstore, Lukachukai cliffs.
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