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The Best Hikes in Navajo Nation

469 Triplog Reviews in the Navajo Nation
Most recent of 259 deeper Triplog Reviews
0 mi • 0 ft aeg
Day 1 - The long ride up to Lee's Ferry with a stop at Navajo Bridge. The wind was brutal but died down during the night.
Day 2 - Backhaul up the river to Glen Canyon Dam and a full day kayaking down with stops at the petroglyphs and on Horseshoe Bend. With the wind picking up again the next day we were advised not to camp on the river.
Day 3 - Breakfast at the Cliff Dwellers Lodge, Cathedral Wash to the Colorado River and back, the drive around to Horseshoe Bend from above
Day 4 - The long drive home and the dread of going back to work the next day...
26.36 mi • 5,588 ft aeg
The HikeArizona guide is very accurate. The following addenda may be of help. I hiked this route in late December 2019.

-Stats: About 13.4 miles to Echo Camp with 5,600' loss and 3,200' gain, this from fairly accurate and lightly edited GPS data. The descent from Yabbut Pass to the gut of Cliff Canyon was 1.7 miles and 1,560' of descent.

-Google Maps shows the correct location for "Rainbow Bridge South Trail Trailhead" (i.e. Rainbow Lodge), but the road that takes you there has a washed-out & closed section. Neither internet resources nor the Navajo Nation handout that came with my permit indicated this. You must now keep left at the Haystack Rock junction and then take your next right to join the road leading to the Lodge -- see HAZ directions and map photo.

-The whole route is strenuous; there is never an easy section until you get close to the Bridge. In the first 5.3 miles to Yabbut Pass, you'll gain and lose about 1,600' (Yabbut elevation only slightly higher than the trailhead). After the big drop into Cliff Canyon, the rest requires clamoring in and out of the wash, routefinding, and swatting brush, punctuated only by Redbud Pass. The whole thing is pretty grueling, even heading downcanyon.

-I was there about 7-10 days after a good dose of snow, after which followed generally fair winter weather. The sun-exposed areas before Yabbut Pass were a mix of dry and patchy, but the north-facing canyon descents had up to 4" of continuous snow, with Horse Canyon holding the most. There was also an icy slickrock stretch at (37.01559 -110.92330) with a bad runout that required a climb-around. Consider foot traction in snowy conditions. Fortunately, there was no snow down low in Cliff or Bridge canyons. Water was available in all the normal places this time of year.

-I mislocated Yabbut Pass when preparing my GPS data before the hike. I thought it would be at the high point at (37.02473 -110.92204) -- this is where you actually cross into the Cliff Canyon drainage, and there are several large cairns here that seem to mark it as a special spot. But from here you must descend and climb another short ways to the true Yabbut Pass at (37.02698 -110.92484). The first location is the better place to cache water or gear; Yabbut Pass is rocky and small.

-I found Redbud Pass to be easier than described. It's Class 2 scrambling through big, solid boulders for about 150 feet with very little exposure. I could see an inexperienced or balance-unsure hiker needing a partner assist or pack-passdown, but I think the vast majority of those attempting this hike will be just fine.

-When you get to Rainbow Bridge, there is an established trail leading around its eastern buttress that continues out towards the docks. NPS signs ask you to stay on trail. (The route description on HikeArizona hints at "finding your own way around"; stay on the trail!).

-This NPS video says there's a dinosaur footprint by the bridge! I didn't know before I went so I didn't look. [ youtube video ]

-There was refreshingly little garbage on the route, except in some fire pits. I packed a little out, please join me in cleaning the place up bit by bit!

-For footwear, I was glad I took over-the-ankle hiking boots. There's almost no slickrock walking or getting your feet wet, so approach/canyon footwear doesn't buy you much. But there is lots of loose, sandy, and rocky footing, so you want something sturdy.

-I noted the locations of 6 metal mile-markers and 5 suitable camps other than Echo. These are in my uploaded GPS data.
0 mi • 0 ft aeg
Notice: Access to Little Colorado is closed through Oct 1 (may change but be sure to give the tribe a call before driving up)
Since we had a late start to the monsoon this year I thought I'd give the Salt Trail a try on July 2. Unfortunately, when I got to the Cameron permit station I was told that as of late June the tribe had closed access to the Little Colorado through Oct 1 because a NPS crew had found a large number of groups in the canyon without Navajo permits and without proper supplies (the crew had to give out water). I was told that all access to the Little Colorado was closed for the summer but that people should be sure to call ahead as the policy may change.
18.05 mi • 2,000 ft aeg
We did a little meander over to Keet Seel, weather was perfect and overcast with a teeny drizzle to cool off. Met a friendly raven or two as guides along the way. Had a chat with a baby foal and some cows. The little houses were awesome and I had a great laugh as the taller members of our tour had to watch their heads on the doorways and I was a perfect fit. :D

The park ranger was very nice and the pottery was very interesting. Really had a great time, until the last two miles of up when the sand in my shoes felt like a sandpaper exfoliation without the benefit of a Mai Tai to take the edge off. Mr. boogenhagen zipped up to the top like a man with a mission, but I took my time and just enjoyed the perfect day of hiking with great views and a lovely destination.
17.46 mi • 1,869 ft aeg
What a truly amazing place to visit in Arizona. We did this hike as a same-day 18 miler due to time constraints, but it was worth every minute in the 90 degree heat. Water was continuous along the entire canyon floor all the way to the ruins. Regardless of the online rumors, the water is able to be filtered just fine as long as you're conscious of the sand sediment. My Sawyer Squeeze did just fine. The only dry section is the first and last 2.5 miles where you're descending/ascending the canyon switchbacks, but you get to water very quickly.

The ruins are spectacular. They look so small from a distance until you get up the ladder with the guide and see them in person. The condition of the ruins is much more preserved than I could have expected, and the pottery sherd variety is second to none. I couldn't take enough pictures, and our guide Steve was so friendly and knowledgeable about the history of its past residents.

A real treat to experience.
4.32 mi • 415 ft aeg
While headed up to the Navajo National Monument for a same-day hike to see the Keet Seel ruins, we took a road trip the day before to check out Monument Valley. We decided to do a sunset hike on the Wildcat Trail for some evening photography and to enjoy hiking around one of the monuments close to the visitor center. This hike was a real treat, and we spent a good 4 hours taking tons of pictures on this little 4.3 mile lollipop loop.

Highly recommended, but be ready to trudge up and down in some really fine sand.
3.02 mi • 883 ft aeg
Can you go wrong with this one? What an amazing place!

I couldn't care less about the ruins, but the geology of the canyon is a wonder to itself, and the opportunity to hike down on this masterfully carved trail was the highlight of my day. I'd love to return and get a guide to lead me down some of the other trails that enter the canyon.
2.56 mi • 545 ft aeg
Navajo NM
I spent a night at my go-to northeastern Arizona campground at Navajo NM. It's free, and according to the ranger, has never been "full" so it's a reliable spot to show up late at night looking for a few zzz's.

It's off-season, so there are not currently any scheduled guided tours to the Betatakin ruins and the ranger who could volunteer to do it was in Phoenix for the weekend. ](*,)

So I was limited to the trails that don't require a guide as a quick morning exploration. I would have liked to see the Aspen trail in yesteryear as it continues past the current closure to the bottom of the canyon. It looked like I could get past the rockfall, but I decided not to risk the NPS violation.

The night was very cold and fires are not permitted here. But the bathroom had a heater which was nice in the morning! :)
23.05 mi • 5,047 ft aeg
I had planned to run R2R2R this weekend, but the hot temps at the bottom of the canyon were not very appealing for a 46 mile run. I still had the canyon on my mind, though, so pitched the idea of an LCR overnight backpack to @friendofThundergod midweek. In typical CJ/LR fashion, we didn't decide on our trip plans until Thursday night at 9pm. After a full day's work on Friday, we left Phoenix at 8pm and arrived at the trail head just after midnight. Despite waking up at 5:30, we didn't start our hike until 8am. The hike down went pretty quick. Nothing too tricky or difficult, although it did kill my knees (I might be using that REI dividend for my first pair of hiking poles).

Once we reached the LCR, we pushed downstream to find a campsite. That first mile downstream was probably my least favorite section of the whole trip: suuuper muddy, which made for annoying and slow-going hiking. I was worried the next 6-7 miles to the confluence would be the same, but the trail dramatically improved. We settled on a nice beach campsite, hung our packs, and hurried back to the trail with the goal of reaching the confluence and getting back before dark. Despite LR's worries about the time, we thoroughly enjoyed the hike out, stopping frequently to wade into the water, take pictures, and enjoy having this incredible canyon to ourselves. I had been to the LCR once before on a river trip, but only hiked about half a mile upstream from the confluence, so I was blown away by nonstop jaw-dropping views the entire way. We hit the confluence around 4pm, filtered some water, quickly ate a few snacks on the beach, and started our return. The hike back was largely uneventful, gorgeous scenery notwithstanding. We overshot our travertine crossing by several minutes (this is what happens when CJ leads...) so lost any chance of making the crossing with a little light left in the sky. It was completely dark when we started to make our way across the river. The super strong current, carp circling around our legs, and my dim headlamp made the first several feet of the crossing a bit nerve-wracking, but once we reached the travertine it was much more easy-going, and actually really fun - one of my favorite parts of the weekend! We made it back to camp safe and sound (minus LR's disgusting gash on his heal), scarfed down some dinner, and enjoyed a pleasant evening of warm temps, the Last Revel, and a couple beers.

I woke up Sunday morning to a little surprise from the Easter Bunny, and then set up a quick Easter egg hunt for LR. We started our hike out at 8am and were lucky to have mostly overcast skies the whole morning. That first muddy mile back to the Salt trail was just as annoying as it was the day before, and I was so happy to put boots on after ~15 miles in Chacos the day before (and plenty of battle wounds to show for it). I expected the hike out to go really quick (it's only 3.5 miles!!) but was a little discouraged by how much it seemed to drag on. It's not particularly hard, just demoralizing to keep looking up and seeing how much further you have to climb. My rumbling stomach and general impatience with the end of the trail led me to scramble a bit off trail at one point, and almost killed LR when I accidentally sent a few big rocks loose beneath my feet. This actually wasn't the first time this weekend that we tried to kill each other, but luckily we both survived. We made it up to the car before noon and hit the road to get home to our doggos. Another great weekend with LR and proof that last minute plans to backpack the canyon are always a good idea.
23.05 mi • 5,047 ft aeg
I got a small taste of this area a couple years ago and left feeling very impressed by this special area. I also left thinking I had pretty much seen the best of the LCR in that short trip. After getting to the LCR in this trip, I left even more impressed and very aware of my aforementioned previous misconception.

We arrived at the trailhead just after midnight on Friday, but despite getting up early, we did not start hiking until just after 8. A decision we would later regret a little, as we were making a headlamp crossing of the LCR to get back to our campsite later on that day. The hike down was pretty standard, there was a group of rattlesnake researches occupying the most convienent spot, so we pushed down stream to a beach site. We dropped our packs in a hurry, loaded up enough snacks for what we knew would be a long day, packed some empty containers to carry water and then hung everything for our day hike to the confluence. Going down stream was slow going, but not because of the trail, but because that damn river is so scenic and we wanted to enjoy it a little too. In fact, the trail was much easier than I had expected, something I wish I would have read prior to stepping off for our trip, rather than after we returned. Likewise, I wish I would have read that the trail to the confluence is nothing like the first mile from Salt Trail and that the trail stays on one bank for the entire trip. Had I known the aforementioned, I think myself and Carrie would have worn boots and carried chacos. Chacos are great footwear, but that’s a long hike with them when you only cross water twice (Sipapu and the confluence) and Chacos don’t protect heals (see photo-set). The hike down the LCR was simply amazing, hard to even put into words. The water, the vibrant colors in the canyon and that final area around the "ledges" is perhaps one of the most scenic areas I have been to in a long time. In fact, the hike down the LCR was so jaw-dropping that the confluence was a tad ho hum, not necessarily a disappointment, just nothing in comparison to what the LCR had to offer for us. We filtered water pretty quickly, loaded it up and started heading back to camp just after four. The hike back to camp was much quicker without all of the photo shoots, but alas we still did not beat darkness. The tram should add a nice looping option for this one, when they finally put it in.

As noted by other HAZ members, crossing the LCR by headlamp is a surreal experience. However, it should be noted that locating the crossing at night is not surreal, in fact, it was kind of hard. We did not get any benefit of the full moon when darkness hit that canyon and it got real dark in a hurry. We overshot our crossing by probably over a tenth of a mile and I was not running route scout, so I had no references to go by except the route I downloaded, which is hard to use when RS can't seem to find you and is giving you a location on the other side of the river. Nevertheless we found our crossing, then things got cool. The blue water, pitch darkness and illuminating lights were very cool, so were the several large carp surfacing and splashing all around us due to the attraction from our headlamps. The crossing even became a little funny, when Carrie mistook one of the splashing carp for a snake! After the crossing and now on a badly sliced open back heal, there was a small moment of anxiety, as we realized it was going to be difficult to find our packs in the heavily vegetated area we hung them. However, similar to not spotting our crossing at first, that anxiety dissipated quickly when I caught that ever so welcoming bright reflection coming off our packs in the dark night. Camp was all about getting food into us, catching up on the beer we had brought and reflecting on our eventful day.

On Sunday, it was a quick Easter Egg hunt, breakfast and then the climb out. I had to wear boots because of my newly slashed open heal and did not feel like the wet crossings, so I took a well cairned high route through the boulders on high on the east bank and met Carrie at the helipad, where we began the climb out together. The climb out never seemed that hard, but we both agreed it seemed to drag on and you are never as close to being done as you think you are. We saw the five guys researching rattlesnakes on the way out and finished to an empty trailhead, apart from the driver picking up the herpetologist. We finished up a little before noon.

The LCR really took my breath away this weekend and you could not have asked for better conditions. Maybe a tad warm at times during the day, but nearly perfect night time temperatures and a nice cloudy climb out. Thanks for talking me into this one at 9 p.m. on Thursday night @carriejane!

Finally, A little HAZ appreciation to @bifrost and @slowandsteady who came through with a little last minute dog help!


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