So you see the Betatakin ancient ruins from afar, but you want to go down there!!! Yes, you can!
There are free guided hikes, but this is a strenuous 3-5 hour k=hike at an elevation of 7,300 ft. This is ranger guided and the clim out of the canyon is 700 feet.
You will be needing sturdy shoes and about 2 liters of water. Don't even attempt to do this if you have respiratory or heart problems!
Call 928-672-2700 for tour times at Navajon Nation.
If you follow the Sandal Trail, there will be another trail that forks from it - The Aspen Trail. This trail promises a view of the lush forest ion the desert.
The Aspen Forest Overlook Trail also leads to a dramatic view of the Betatakin Canyon at an observation point 300 feet below the canyon rim.
You will see Douglas Fir, quaking aspen and lots of foliage in the lush forest. It does not lead to the Betatakin ruin itself or the canyon floor. It is about 0.8 mile.
They were having a little ceremony at the Navajo Nation Visitor Center and they were giving awards to the great people keeping the center and the park running well.
They have exhibits and films and even book sales. The twins like the little bird with the tweeting noise which was driving me a little crazy. But they halso have the Navajo National Arts and Crafts Enterprise which has a gift shop specializing in Navajo silverwork.
Restrooms are also available and accessible to visitor with limited mobility.
Near Navajo National Monument, at Kayenta, there is a burger king which features a really cool museum- like display of 'code talkers.'- the navajo speakers who formed a secret coding unit for the US military during the second world war. Basically, they spoke in different dialects of navajo to transmit messages and the Axis never figured out the trick or cracked the code.
The owner of the Kayenta Burger King, is Richard Mike, whose father King, was one of the original code talkers. His display features explanations, memorabilia and all kinds of cool stuff. I HIGHLY recommend that you stop off, if not for the food, then to see the display presented from a personal perspective.
Although in the Navajo Nation, the Betatakin was actually made by the Hopi Indians who descended from the Hisatsinom. They also made the Keet Seel and the Inscription House.
It's amazing how they built the cliff dwellings, and how to they were able to hunt with arrows and tend their fields. Their potteries are also distinct, and they followed ceremonies as evidenced by their kivas. They also have ceremonies for rain and Hopi elders still make pilgrimages to their ancestral villages.
We were so lucky to have witnessed a nice humble ceremony set up by park officials at the Navajo Visitor Center. They set up a tent and gave awards to several park employees and volunteers, native Navajo mostly who are proud of their heritage and serve on the parks.
The Navajos actually came from (believe it or not) Northern Canada in the late 1500s or probably even earlier. They settled beside the native Pueblo Indians, and then later acquired horse and sheep through the Spanish -- and the navajo nation became a powerful one.
With power came conflicts with the Hopi and Pueblo people, and in 1863, the US Army invaded the navajo nation to end the conflict, killing a lot of the people and having survivors march nearly 300 miles to a reserve near Fort Summer, New Mexico (called The Long Walk)! A treaty allowed them to return years later and they started living there again with their sheep and horses...during the time we visited there was even a horse riding event and we saw them going into the desert foliage...awesome sight.
Now there are 300,000 Navajos living near the area.