Navajo National Monument preserves three of the most-intact
cliff dwellings of the ancestral Puebloan people (Hisatsinom). The Navajo
people who live here today call these ancient ones "Anasazi."
The monument is high on the Shonto Plateau, overlooking the Tsegi Canyon
system in the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. The monument features
a visitor center, two short self-guided mesa top trails, two small campgrounds,
and a picnic area. In the summer, rangers guide visitors on tours of the
Keet Seel and Betatakin cliff dwellings. Tours are usually available during
the spring and fall months as well.
Total size: 360 acres
Navajo National Monument is 50 miles northeast of Tuba City or 20 miles
southwest of Kayenta, Arizona.
Ancient pueblo cultures included three branches. One of them, the Kayenta, are thought to have built distinctive villages here. Their pottery styles were more vivid and multicolored, their buildings more randomly grouped and their social organization less formal. The Hopi are believed to be their descendants. The villages lie along a sacred migration route of eight Hopi clans, whose elders visit the ruins as shrines (the Hopi Reservation is 50 miles south).
Two of the largest villages lie in Tsegi Canyon and are best known by their Navajo names-Betatakin ("ledge house") and Keet Seel ("remains of square houses"). The ancient people who lived here are called Hisatsinom by the Hopi and Anasazi by the Navajo. They began as farmers living in pithouses, then above-ground homes. When erosion destroyed farming in the canyon bottom, many of them took shelter in the cliffs. By 1267 A.D., Betatakin contained three stone-walled households on its ledges in a south-facing alcove. Twenty years later, 100 persons lived there; it was vacant after 1300 A.D. Keet Seel was occupied as early as 950 A.D. by a more transient population-indicated by more kivas and design variations. It had as many as 150 inhabitants who departed about 1300 A.D. The Hopi still gather in the kivas for religious ceremonies.
Designation Date: March 20, 1909, by President Theodore Roosevelt
Canyon in Navajo National Monument. Now part of Navajo Nation,
the Hopis once claimed this land as the home of their ancestors-the
Hisatsinom, "people of long ago."
software downloads: Windows
Media - Quicktime
167 KB | High:
Navajo For Kids/NPS
Navajo History and Culture/NPS
Navajo Additional Information
National Park Service
HC-71, Box 3
Tonalea, AZ 86044-9704
Back to the top