Old Oraibi is located on Third Mesa, and it's known as the oldest continuing inhabited town in the US, settled in 1150. I didn't find the village particularly picturesque, but what was most fascinating were the old stone buildings, dating from the 1100's, that people still lived in.
You will need permission to visit Oraibi. There is a shop selling crafts and to ask general questions, called Hamana So-o's Art and Crafts.
For more information on the Hopi, and who to contact if you choose to tour on your own, please go to the website below.
Walpi is probably the most easiest village to see, plus the most scenic and interesting. The Hopi have guided tours, with a Hopi tour guide, which are scheduled daily between 9:30 am and 4:00 pm. Admission is $5.00 US
The tour lasts about an hour, and will take you through the village. The guide will give a little history of Walpi and it's surrounding villages and will answer any questions that you may have.
The guide we had could have been more enthusiastic, as she seemed flat and uninterested in what she was doing, but she did cover the information quite well.
After her presentation, we then went on a walking tour of the village. Just to give you a heads up -- there are a lot of village dogs wandering around. However, they are harmless; amazingly gentle and friendly, they are the most laid-back dogs I have ever seen in my life. Just ignore them if you are not into dogs, and they should wander off.
Again, as in Oraibi, a majority of the villagers live in ancient stone houses, with some modern conveniences, such as tv antenna, water, electricity. We even heard heavy metal blaring out of one house.
One part of Walpi, however, does not have electricity or running water, and these villagers choose to live this way. The picture to the left shows this part of Walpi.
This is the most interesting part of the tour, as you are shown old communal ovens (used for ceremonial purposes) and this part of Walpi is on the most picturesque part of the Mesa. Our guide then pointed out very interesting archeological features of this part of the village, such as ancient Kivas. Kivas are family ceremonial rooms, and the entryway is usually a ladder from the top of the roof.
Hopi Cultural Centre
Located on Second Mesa, the cultural centre is a motel, museum and restaurant rolled into one. The museum is worth taking in, as it has lots of artifacts, and many vintage photographs of the Hopi before they banned photography. There is also a scale model of First Mesa, so you can get a really good idea of how the villages are set up. Admission to the museum is $3.00 US
The restaurant is quite good, and offers reasonably priced American and Native dishes.
Take a Look Around You
At first glance, the area where the Hopi Mesas are located may seem desolate and barren, but if you look around, there are many interesting geological land features.
As you enter the Navajo Reservation ( the Hopi Reservation is right in the middle of it), you will see the beginning of the Painted Desert. You can also spot cinder cones from extinct volcanoes.