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Coal Mine Canyon, AZ

182 19 3
Guide 19 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Hotevilla
4.5 of 5 by 11
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,820 feet
Elevation Gain 500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.5
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
5  2017-11-25 MountainMatt
5  2016-06-19 burntlizard
10  2015-04-27 chumley
7  2012-10-06
NE Arizona tour
8  2011-04-20 BubbaSue
4  2010-09-05 hippiepunkpirate
7  2010-05-08 JoelHazelton
4  2009-09-14 JoelHazelton
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Ben
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 0
Photos 20
Trips 3 map ( 30 miles )
Age 77 Male Gender
Location Glendale, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Navajo Nation Reservation
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Reservation Navajo Nation
Preferred   Oct, Nov, Nov, Dec → 9 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:11am - 6:23pm
0 Alternative
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Bryce Spires on the Rez
by Ben

Notice: Oct 2009 Descent into the canyon has been prohibited by the Navajo Nation. Hiking is now permitted only along the upper rim. If you proceed beyond the description below, you may also require a permit from the Hopi Nation as the canyon extends across the tribal boundaries.

Park near the lower (north) concrete tables of the Navajo Nation picnic ground. To the west you can see the site of an old Mormon coal mine. The thin vein of soft coal can be seen around the canyon walls near the top. Other spots were also mined. Walk to the east to find the unmarked trailhead. Coal Mine Canyon is mostly on the Navajo Reservation. The trail starts to the east of the windmill and campground. About 150 feet west of a fence that goes over the edge, a vague trail leads down the north side of a mound can be found. Go around and more to the east, under the lower end of a fence, and down a steep drainage toward the bottom, and into this picturesque canyon.

As you continue down, drop bread crumbs so you will be able to identify the correct exit when you return. The canyon head has about five fingers and can surprise relaxed trekkers who are looking up at the Bryce-like scenes. If it has rained, expect to get dirty. Wear gloves as your hands will be used in the decline and return upward. Walk down canyon to the northeast. After the decline, the hike is easy. About three miles in, you will be at the base of the 400 foot white and Red tower known as The Ghost. Along the way in and back, you should be able to see many arches and fantastic formations. Should you continue another mile or so, you will reach the opening of another wonderful canyon. Ha Ho No Geh Canyon is also great.

There is no water along the way and the hike would be very hot in summer. The trailhead elevation is 5820 feet while the base of The Ghost is at 5320. Most of the decline happens in the first mile. The bright colors of red, white, black, brown, gold, and gray make this one of the best hikes possible for photography. We completed this hike just after a rain and got great pictures. It doesn't get any better than this. It should be part of National Park made up of the Moencopi canyons of Coal, Ha Ho No Geh, Bat, and Blue.

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2007-02-14 Ben
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Coal Mine Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I've always wanted to see Coal Mine Canyon, of course, I chose the day that Phoenix hit 118*. This place is desolate, peaceful, hauntingly quiet and a real hidden gem. Upon my arrival 3 campers were packing up and it was a comfortable 84* at 0700. Within 30 minutes, the people were gone and I was literally the only person here, the quiet was deafening. Only some White-Throated Swifts and American Kestrels were within my immediate proximity. By the time that I left at 0930 it was already 95* and this place has no shade or water, so be mindful of this! Can't wait to go back during the fall. Conversely, great Navajo taco stand just outside Cameron on the south side of the town.
    Coal Mine Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Having never been here before, spending a night at Coal Mine Canyon was incredible. First I explored the various formations from the top before dropping down into the canyon on a very steep, sandy route where I had to dig my feet into the sand to control the descent. I was absolutely awestruck as I hiked the short distance through the hoodoos as the easily followed route dropped to the bottom of the canyon. With sunset coming soon I turned around and headed back up, but I would definitely like to come back and explore farther down canyon. It's a really special place!

    Some occasional nice color on the sandy hillsides down in the canyon
    Coal Mine Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    NE Arizona tour
    A 3-day Fall break trip to Navajo/Hopi land.

    We spent an hour or so exploring the southern edge of Coal Mine Canyon (15mi south of Tuba City). What a fantastic place! Like stumbling across Bryce Canyon with no signs or fences. I wouldn't bring a dog or an 8-yr old.

    Arrived at Navajo National Monument Sunday morning in time for the once-a-week Ranger guided tour to Betatakin Ruin. We (and 15 other well-geared hikers) were disappointed though when the hike was cancelled as the Ranger's helper didn't show up on time. This is another beautiful place and it would have been a perfect day for the long hike to Keet Seel - too bad the park is under-resourced. We walked the overlook trails which are well worth it..

    Our first trip to Canyon de Chelly and we walked the White House Trail. This is a beautiful trail into a beautiful canyon - a little bit unfortunate that a wire fence keeps you well away from the ruin.

    Monday morning we drove up First Mesa and took the Walpi walking tour. We were lucky to get there just in time to join the only tour of the day (done informally because it was a Hopi holiday). This is a tour more than a hike but we learned a lot of interesting things about Hopi history and modern life. If you have a few extra bucks buy some crafts from the residents.

    Stopped at Homolovi on the way home. I was disappointed that the ruin wasn't heck of a lot more interesting than some of the local Perry Mesa Ruins but there was certainly a wider range of pottery types littering the ground.
    Coal Mine Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I thinkI hiked around part of Coal Mine Canyon yesterday. I picked up the permit at Cameron and they gave me a very vague desripion of how to get there (so vague that I started out looking off of 160). After asking around I was told to go down 264 and turn across from an old rodeo. I found what looked like it could be an old rodeo area. There was a dirt road across from it that crossed a cattle guard and went up a hill. There was no picnic area or windmill as in the HAZ description. There was a residence with horses to the left. The road split at the hilltop and the right fork went down the hill and around the canyon.

    The canyon did have the black stripe around the top, but I arrived late afternoon and didn't have time to hike very far around it. At one point I got so close to the canyon edge to take a picture that I scouted over on my bottom. As I went to crawl back I found myself looking at a snake in a crack between me and the canyon edge. :o I crab-walked past it, scrambled to my feet and got out of there. I never thought I'd thank God for all the crab soccer we had to play in gym class! :?

    I came across what appeared to be an old ruin. It was a circle of stones a bit over a foot high with an east-facing opening. Most of my pictures came out way overexposed, I'll try to work on them and post any I can salvage.

    I hope someone will let me know if it sounds like I was in the right place. I'd like to go back and see more of it.
    Coal Mine Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This was a fieldtrip for GLG 102 - Historical Geology at NAU. It consisted of four stops, the grand finale being Coal Mine Canyon. The first stop was just south of Cameron at an outcrop of the Moenkopi Formation, with a veneer of Chinle Formation (mostly Sinarump Conglomerate) above it. The second stop was north of Cameron to look at the famed petrified wood of the Chinle Formation. The third stop was at the Moenave dinosaur tracks west of Tuba City. Coal Mine Canyon itself was spectacular, and definitely a future destination for a non-fieldtrip hiking excursion.
    Coal Mine Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Coal Mine Canyon

    3 days
    9 hiking trails
    543 photos
    967.6 miles
    La Posada Hotel in Winslow AZ as base camp

    This was the number one reason for planning this multi-hike excursion into Navajo and Hopi lands. Ever since I saw the HAZ hike description and photos posted by Ben and Krey, I was hooked and knew I had to visit...

    I was concerned with finding the trail head since all references to Coal Mine Canyon site the lack of signage. Mile Marker 337 and 338 are quite visible and you can spot the distinctive windmill from Hwy 264. The dirt road was frozen and snow covered, but easily traversed by my F-150. Any thaw and I'm sure the resulting mucky-muck is impassable.

    When we arrived at the picnic tables with BBQ pits trail head, we were not alone. Another couple was just wrapping up a photo shoot and were ladden with equipment trekking back to their SUV.

    We explored the rim and followed a couple of paths down into the canyon. Lynn and I also checked out the mining remains along the north side of the rim.

    References to Coal Mine Canyon all make mention of the purported resident ghosts. The following quotes appeared in an Arizona Republic article by Sam Lowe on January 7th, 2007;

    But those who plan to spend the night should know about "the ghosts."

    Stories are told by Native Americans and others who claim that, on certain nights when the moonlight dances across the hoodoos, a white mist rises from the bottom of the canyon and forms the shape of a beautiful young woman.

    Some say the apparition is that of a Navajo woman who was walking along the rim with her husband and small child. The man and child stumbled and fell to their deaths. The grief-stricken wife went back to the spot every night for the rest of her life, and her ghost returns when the moon is full.

    Another legend tells of a different tragedy: A young man ventured into the canyon on the eve of his wedding. His bride-to-be followed but never found him. She continues her search as a milky apparition that walks along the canyon rim on moonlighted nights.

    The men who mine coal here also have reported strange happenings. They say they hear knocking sounds when they work at night, and if they look into the canyon, they see an aura, which means someone has just died.

    In her book Arizona Twilight Tales: Good Ghosts, Evil Spirits & Blue Ladies (Pruett Publishing Co., 2000, $16.95), Jane Eppinga writes that Hopis believe the figure is of a woman who became deranged more than 100 years ago and died when she fell into the canyon while trying to reach out to spirits. Her people buried her in the canyon, but on the fourth day after her death, she climbed out of her grave and now appears occasionally in the moonlight.

    Eppinga also writes that Navajos bring their sick to Coal Mine Canyon because they believe that if the misty woman dances to the north, the sick person will be cured and good things will happen. But if she dances to the south, misfortune and death are likely to follow.

    So when you visit Coal Mine Canyon, enjoy the view and take lots of photos. But if you go at night, well . . .

    Ben mentions in the HAZ hike description additional Moenkopi Canyons - Coal, Ha-Ho-No-Geh, Bat, and Blue. If these additonal canyons have half the sights Coal Mine Canyon offered, I'm going to have to check them out! Think this may be a future combination hike/back-pack adventure I'll have to research...

    For the record, the 9 hiking trails include...

    1. Beale Wagon Road
    2. Homolovi (Sunset crossing)
    3. Onyx Bridge
    4. Rainbow Forest
    5. Painted Desert
    6. Hopi Three Mesas
    7. Coal Mine Canyon
    8. Rock Art Ranch
    9. Chevelon Canyon

    Permit $$
    Navajo Recreation Permit $5 per person per day, camping $5 per person per day. Study the Permit Details

    Navajo Nation Reservation
    Navajo Permits & Services

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    Follow 89 north of Flagstaff to 160. Go east to Tuba City and turn south on 264. Drive 16 miles to Mile Marker 337.25 and exit on the dirt trail to the left of the road. You will see a windmill on your left and a small rodeo ground on your right. Park near the picnic tables and walk back east to the trailhead. It is vague.
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