Navajo National Monument and a paradise camp!

Monday, April 29

Today we leave Sunset Crater Camp to drive about 180 miles to Navajo National Monument in the heart of the Navajo Nation Reservation.

On the way out of the Coconino National Forest, I count three RVs parked about 400 feet or more from the road.  How do they get away with it?  I’d be slapped with a fine so fast my head would spin.

Right past the last illegally parked RV, we meet a green pick-up truck heading in the opposite direction.

I read these words on the door of the pick-up:  National Forest Service.  Uh-oh.  Somebody’s gonna’ have company.

Okay . . .  We’re on our way to Navajo National Monument . . .

The drive north on Highway 89 and eastward on Highway 160 is very scenic.

The landscape is a dramatic display of buttes, cliffs, mesas, plateaus, ridges, and valleys of various hues.






Scattered along the route are signs announcing Navajo jewelry for sale at tables set up in the open sun.  Passing through Tuba City the highway takes us past the Hopi Reservation on the right.

Bridget and Spike sleep until we turn onto the road to Navaho National Monument.

A sign warns RVs and trailers not to enter if over 28 feet total.  We continue on.  Only 12 more miles to go!

After a few miles I pull over.


This looks interesting.  I let Spike and Bridget out to relieve themselves.


I put them back in the PTV.  I don’t want them falling into the canyon!  Then I venture further out and take some photos.




Further along I stop at Tsegi Point Overlook.


From this point I can see Fir Canyon through the haze.



Oh my.  This place is incredible!  I wonder what the campground will be like in such a place as this.  I sprint up the walkway and start up the PTV.

“It won’t be long now, little pudding pops.  Just a little bit farther.”


With every curve of the road, my anticipation grows.


We approach the Visitors’ Center. 

I drive by.  I want to check out the campgrounds first.  Sunset Campground has a cramped feel.  Sites are short and close together.  Not pretty and a lot of campers here.  I hope Canyon View Campground is better. 

The road deteriorates on the way to Canyon View.

Good.  Maybe it won’t be as crowded.  We drive in and pass site #1, empty . . . site #2, empty . . . sites #3, #4, #5, #6, all vacant.  I continue driving through the entire campground, repeatedly glancing to my right at an absolutely stupendous view.

The campground is empty!  Aw gee, we’ll be all by ourselves in the prettier campground.  Heh-heh-heh.

I pick out the best site and drive back to the Visitors’ Center.

A dark-haired lady at the desk offers me a brochure.

I thank her and ask where I pay to stay at Canyon View Campground.

“Oh, it’s free.  Just pick a spot.”

Ooh, a gorgeous campground all to ourselves and it’s free!  I take a quick look around at the usual souvenir caps, books, and postcards.  In another room are pottery displays.  On the way out I ask the young lady, “Is there internet up here?”

She smiles and says, “No, no Wifi here.”  I can read in her eyes, “What did you expect?”

I hurry out to the crew in the PTV.

It’s noon and probably in the nineties. I drive us back to the site I picked out at Canyon View Campground.   Oh well, I didn’t think there’d be internet way out here.  The Navajo Nation Reservation is the size of West Virginia and we’re in the middle of it.  This means we’ll have to leave tomorrow night.  I don’t want to ignore the blog too long.  That will give us only one full day to look around.

I nestle the BLT between shady trees, making sure the PTV is in the sun.

I take in the view.  We’re high up and a cool breeze blows.  Several trails lead away from camp.  Gee, it’s beautiful here.

In order to put the BLT back in order, I remove the Wilson antenna and pole from my bed.  Might as well put it in the bumper mount to get it out of the way.  Back inside . . . Hmm . . . I wonder what the air card will say.  I turn it on and it reads “searching.”  Well, that’s no surprise.  We are in the middle of nowhere.  Just as I’m about to turn it off, one tiny bar flickers on and off.  What?  Could it be?

I run outside, grab the end of the antenna cord, poke it through the open window, run back in, and connect it to the air card.

“Holy cow!  Five bars!  Five steady bars!”

I let the ramifications of this revelation sink in. 

I can blog.  I can email.  I can read the news. I can check the weather reports before we leave.  I look out the window at the paradise we’re in.  I laugh out loud.  We don’t have to leave after one day.  We can take it easy here in this incredibly lovely, quiet camp . . .  and it’s free!


NOTE:  Such a long post today, I’ll show you Canyon View Camp tomorrow!


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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88 Responses to Navajo National Monument and a paradise camp!

  1. Aerolite Steve says:

    sounds like a great place to stay for a few days. Enjoy!

  2. Barb Brady says:

    Wow, from one flickering bar on the cell phone to 5! In a place people said there was no signal. That Wilson antenna is the best!

  3. Carolyn says:

    What fun! beautiful mountain type views … I like rocks more than sand 😉
    I like the way you write … I’m riding along with you … don’t like the 90’s .. guess the no humidity makes it better… FREE ~ yay!

  4. Nothing better than free camping in a beautiful spot in the middle of nowhere…with a cell signal! Being self sufficient is what it’s all about.

    Oh..we’re in the middle of Saskatchewan, Canada right now!

  5. Bee says:

    I swear, you have the best luck! Murphy always seems to be traveling with me! Yes, -this- post was indeed the best advertisement for Wilson equipment. Enjoy the stay and don’t forget the Indian bread before leaving. (Honey optional)

  6. Glenda Cornwill says:

    What a revelation that you have internet access after all and now you can stay longer. My heart was beating fast along with yours as you connected and found you had five bars………….that’s how good your descriptive writing is…………really takes us all for the ride. Enjoy such a beautiful spot and I look forward to many more photos!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Yes, tomorrow I’ll post photos of our campsite and the campground. Another day the crew and I will hike and take photos of big rocks. 🙂 The cliff dwellings are too far for us to walk… The best one is a 17-mile hike. That’s okay. We may be able to get a zoomed photo of an old village of ancestral Puebloans on the shorter hike.

      Thanks for the compliment on my writing.

  7. mary ann (pontotoc ms) says:

    sooo beautiful~the road less traveled is the place to be, and five bars to boot! thanks for sharing all the photos of the pups, i’ve been loving them.

  8. Ed smith says:

    I know I keep repeating myself but again I say, “you’re the best”.

  9. Cathie Laurent says:

    I hope you stay as long as you can. Sounds wonderful!

  10. DesertHawk says:

    Never been to Navajo National Monument, but have wanted to go there. From the photos, it is “My Kind of Place”.

    I may have to do a trip up there just to enjoy it myself. Been wanting to get the Scamp out.

    Canyon View CG is the one to strive for.

    DesertHawk in Las Cruces

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t know why so many short RVs and truck campers are squeezed into Sunset Campground. They could come up here and have bigger campsites with their own private look-out on the red rock view. You’ll fit in here just fine with your Scamp. But you knew that already .

      • DesertHawk says:

        Might be the Flush Toilets & Running water at Sunset CG & the paved road. Perhaps there is electric outlets in the Restrooms as well?

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I think that probably is the reason. Makes me glad that I don’t need the campground to provide me with a toilet and running water. I’d rather have a beautiful campsite without neighbors.

  11. Dixie Nivala says:

    BINGO!! You hit gold—Doesn’t it feel so good to get a good deal all around!! He-He—- Enjoy Sue, You deserve it!! Hugs to the pups! Dixie

  12. mockturtle says:

    Just how bad was the road?

  13. Marcia GB says:

    Once again you have found a wonderful spot that provides what you need. We visited the Navajo National Monument area in 1995 and felt it was so filled with sacred energy. I long to go back out there, especially the 4 corners area and really take our time exploring. We covered a lot of territory in 2 short weeks but 2 months would be so much better. Ah well, not this year or next but maybe 2015. I do love reading on your blog about the places we have traveled as well as those we haven’t yet seen.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      As an Easterner exploring the West for the first time, I now understand better the relationship of native Americans (wish there was a better term, gee, I’m a native American) with the environment. The magnificence seems to touch one’s soul. Clumsy wording, but you know what I mean.

  14. Chuck says:

    Pudding Pops????? Poor Spikey…..Another set of beautiful pictures and your luck is incredible at finding campsites!!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, Chuck, you would not believe the enormous number of names I have for the crew. I don’t know where they come from. It’s almost a language of its own!

      Yeah, wait til you see the photos in the next few days . ..

  15. Linda in NE says:

    Must have been your lucky day……a great camp site AND Internet. And even better, FREE!!! Hope you and the pups are enjoying it to the hilt.

  16. Dominick Bundy says:

    Hi Sue and crew, I was just wondering how you can tell if you are parked 30 ft. or 300 ft. inward from the road . Do you use some type of measuring device. Or would it be just a estimation?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Just an estimation. One of my paces is 3 feet, so I count paces and multiply by 3! I do that for 30 feet. I counted paces once for 300 feet and now I estimate.

  17. Cari in Texas says:

    You seem to have an angel of some sort riding on your shoulder as you travel and look for campsites. I can’t believe you found an entire campground empty, and free, to boot. As always, I love your descriptions of the area, the people you meet, and the antics of the Crew. And your photos are beautiful!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Cari! I was very surprised to find this campground empty. I guess people were intimidated by the road, which really wasn’t bad at all. Or it’s that need to group together with other people around, something I’ll never understand.

      Thank you, glad you like the photos.

  18. cinandjules (NY) says:

    Oh boy…someone probably ended up with one of those “fat” tickets.

    Oh my God! The first four pictures were amazing! Can’t imagine what they look like in real life! Is the color change…sedimentary levels? Definitely postcard quality.

    Free! Whooeee!

    Your last post you mentioned that you might be off the “radar” due to the vastness of the Navajo nation territory. (Thank you Mick again for the Wilson antenna.) I’ll stick my neck out and say…don’t you ever hurry and NOT enjoy the surroundings because you feel the need to write this blog for us to read. Take a minute for yourself and the crew.

    Just how long is the PTV and BLT combined?

    Looking forward to seeing the sights……………thanks.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Maybe those RVers got a warning and not a ticket. It must drive the rangers nuts because nobody in that area seemed to know or care about the regs.

      The scenery on the way here is absolutely breath-taking. I guess that’s sedimentary rock. One thing I can’t convey with photos is the vast emptiness. People say the ocean looks vast. To me this seems an even greater expanse because the buttes, mesas, and mountains at the far horizon give a sense of the distance. It’s incomprehensible.

      Sweet of you to say I should enjoy myself, regardless of blogging.

      I don’t know exactly how long the PTV and BLT are together. I’ll “pace” them tomorrow if I remember, and let you know. (It’s dark as I write this.)

      • cinandjules (NY) says:

        We’re just along for the ride…………you’re the driver. 🙂

        The BLT is 16 ft and the PTV has to be ?? I was noticing that you don’t have those big mirrors on the PTV. We had them on the RV and it was still a task.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          The BLT is 17 feet including hitch and narrow enough that big mirrors aren’t needed. After my coffee this morning, I’ll get the length of the PTV

  19. Mick says:

    Those who wonder about the return for giving should be in my shoes now…|||||

  20. Rusty n' Timber says:

    YAAA, 5 Bars, Sue, us too, enjoy

  21. Rita from Phoenix says:

    The two rock pillars on the side of the road are called elephant legs. I love to drive across Navajo Nation…it’s so scenic. Once I got sort of stranded in the middle of no where and spotted a grove of cotton wood trees of in the distance with a nice looking house. I took a chance and drove to the house and asked permission to camp near their home. I was welcomed with open arms but was warned of a bull roaming the area (it’s open range). Next morning as I was getting ready to leave, an elderly lady come with coffee and fry bread…wow! I didn’t expect that. The coffee was delicious as well as the bread. We still exchange xmas cards to this day. I’m sure there are many more areas of the reservation with beautiful camp grounds that I’ve never been to. Most Navajos still do letters of introduction when travel across the USA like in the old days. It’s almost impolite not to accept a letter of introduction when someone offers. I’ve made many native friends by this method all the way into Alaska. Enjoy your travels cuz I sure am enjoying myself sitting in the cyber backseat.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Interesting information, Rita… Elephant legs, good name for them.

      How very nice of the lady to be that kind and welcoming to a stranger.

      Speaking of open range… Today’s post was too long for me to include some of the sights along the way. A herd of sheep grazing along the side of the road, not fenced in. And a horse! I wanted to take a pic but there was a bunch of people behind me. More traffic because Hwy 160 is the detour around the part of Hwy 89 that fell apart.

      There’s a road sign warning motorists to look out for horses in the road.


      Could it be that those elephant legs are the remains of collapsed arches???

  22. Connie & Mugsy says:

    Is it really in the 90s that far north in AZ? Or was that an unusually hot day. I googled and one site had weather… temps of around 79 for the next few days. Must be elevation differences?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Maybe it’s all this red rock? I don’t know for a fact it was in the nineties, but it certainly felt that way. I do think I read a prediction of 90s for Tuba City, while other predictions were lower. Arizona is crazy with weather… different temps all over the place.


      It was 105 in the shade on my back patio yesterday, in Phoenix! Weather service showed 102 for the high but I think it must be the reflection from the pool making it a little bit hotter!

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        It was very hot down by the Visitors’ Center. Canyon View is a short distance away but much higher. The temps up here are perfect! Stay cool, Joan!

  23. placestheygo says:

    That is tremendous news about getting internet!! Can’t wait to see pictures. Hope you continue to have the place to yourself.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      A Class C pulled in after I posted. I think they parked at the other end. I only know they’re in the campground because they walked by. . . no noise.

  24. Donna D. (stickhouse in CT) says:

    Was thinking I wouldn’t “see” you for a couple of days but lo and behold, here you are. What an amazing area! Those rocks, hill, mountains, etc. are so beautiful. So glad you are deciding to stay for awhile. There has got to be more beautiful nooks and crannies in that area and you have time to explore. I’m envious but will certainly enjoy your photos.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I should have asked the lady at the Visitors’ Center about dogs. I haven’t seen any signs barring dogs from trails. I would like to see the ancestral puebloan villages, but they require a very long hike that’s ranger-guided.

  25. Grace says:

    I can’t believe that campground was so empty. Isn’t that just great! They must have known you were on your way. My heart sunk when you said “No RVs over 28.” Our RV is 27″ but with the toad, we’re just a little longer. How long is your complete rig? Did you see any reason for us not to be able to enter that area? Thanks, Sue! You’re the best! Grace (in Tucson)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t think you would have a problem, Grace, because you could unhook the toad and drive it in order to turn around at the end of the campground. (It isn’t a loop campground). There are pull-throughs at Canyon View where you’d have room to park the toad as well as the RV. I don’t know about Sunset. In fact the site we’re in, which isn’t a pull-through, could accomodate your RV and toad.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Grace . . . I took a look at your website. You are incredibly talented and skillful with a brush! I LOVE your paintings.

      • Grace says:

        Thanks for the responses, Sue. Yes, unhooking the toad is no reason not to camp there. It’s absolutely in our future! It looks so incredibly beautiful. Thanks for the compliment on my paintings. There’s a link to my bead embroidery on my website, too. That’s what I’ve been up to lately. Like the OFM, I’ve been having too much fun!

  26. Val. Lakefield Ontario says:

    Spectacular scenery, thank you. Glad you included the winding road shot.. Wonder if my Aliner could handle travels there. Have it up for sale, but it’s so cute, not sure I really want to part with it to buy the regular TT…..look forward to more pics…..”Hi to the Crew”

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Val,

      I don’t see why your Aliner couldn’t come up here. An Aliner is little, right? If the BLT can make it, I don’t see why an Aliner couldn’t. But you’re selling it, remember? 🙂 Funny how we become attached to our little homes-on-wheels.

  27. Kay says:

    OMGosh… In my mind I can see you dashing out the door plugging in the Wilson and running back in and letting out a squeal…. LOL….

    Beautiful pics… Guess I wont get in there, all 62 feet not going to make the cut. Maybe, I can park RV somewhere and drive the Burban in show the traveling companions.

    Enjoy your stay, you hit the jackpot!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Kay,

      It’s quite a lot of miles to drive here (from the south) and not have a place to stay for the night. I suppose you could camp at Gouldings RV park in Monument Valley (further north) and make a day trip here. I think it’s a little over an hour’s drive from MV to here.

  28. Terry says:

    Well Sue, what a fantastic camp site that you have come across. Beautiful scenery, peace and quiet and a big plus 5 whole bars. We have a saying in Australia when luck comes your way that the Fairies must have ###### on you. A great blog and beautiful pics.Cant wait to see more. You might have to keep an eye on the kids that they don’t get into any dangerous situations. Lots of happy camping. Regards Terry

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Terry!

      You Australians have a way with words! 🙂 Thank you for the compliments on my blog and photos. I promise to keep a close watch on the crew.

  29. Dawn says:

    As I was reading I was saying..OUT LOUD…’forget the blog, forget the internet totally…STAY a few days, stay a week! We’ll wait.” So glad you can do both. Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Dawn!

      Sweet of you to want me to enjoy, regardless of the blog. There’s another reason I’m so very happy to have internet connection — I want to hear from Rusty as soon as he gets his new place so I can share the happy news!

  30. Sparky says:

    Isn’t is amazing these formations of rocks and mountains?!! Your photos make us remember our trips out west and how awe inspiring so many places are in our country. You find the best places!

  31. Micky (in Monterey, CA for now) says:

    I camped there oh, maybe 17 years ago. I don’t remember there being 2 camping areas at that time, but there was only one other camper there, at the end of May. My best memories of the place….the good energy, the amazing beauty, and at night, the stars seemed so close I might reach out and touch them. Thank you for bringing it all back!
    The Navajo Rez is high on my list of places to spend some time when I retire and have my little Casita, in the fall of ’14. In the mean time, I’m loving enjoying it through your eyes, and your heart Sue!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      And I’m loving that I can share my life and travels with you, Micky. The fall of 2014 isn’t far off. Soon you’ll make your own adventures in retirement!

      • Micky (in Monterey, CA for now) says:

        You are a huge encouragement to me Sue, plodding along in this last year or so, before retirement….it drags! I’m an RN and it’s been good, but I’m ready to move on! There is so much to learn about this new lifestyle! I am buying the Benchmark books (through your site, I might add:-), and following you every step of the way.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Yes, I remember how the last year dragged. And then the last few days sped by!

          I appreciate you ordering your Benchmarks through my blog. I think you’ll be pleased with them.

  32. rhutch11 says:

    Hi Sue and crew,

    When I was telling you about Bluff and the blue corn pancakes I should have told you about the free camping at Navajo National Monument too. It is a beautiful location with much to do. Check at the visitor center for a ranger led hike back to some ancient ruins. It’s about a 4-5 mile round trip which may be longer than you like to hike.

    On your way to Bluff, UT on Hwy 163 just passed Mexican Hat there is Goosenecks State Park with free camping as well. There are no camping amenities there other than fire rings and toilets. It’s a good place to spend the night though (a few overnight campers) and well worth seeing the Goosenecks. No other geological site like it in the world. Then you are only a short distance to Bluff. I traveled extensively in all of that area on my trip in 2011.


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Ron! Goosenecks is definitely on my itinerary. You know me by now… I don’t care about amenities. 🙂

      I doubt dogs would be welcome on that hike. It’s a bit long for us anyway. That’s okay. I’m not bored!

  33. MKReed says:

    Love the photos and stories as usual but I wanted to pass along another persons blog to you for fun his photos of his CoonHound Maddie traveling around the USA in you guessed it a Casita! He’s promoing is book and rescue dogs but the fun thing is all his photos of his dog Maddie. It’s called I know you’d enjoy the photos of his dog they are funny.

  34. susan in dallas says:

    I keep coming back to look at your photos of the rocks and mountains. They are mezmorizing.

  35. earthdancerimages says:

    Hey Sue! On your travels to Tuba City you passed part of The Painted Desert! This time of year, they don’t have a lot of color but WOW if you get there after a good rain storm !!! Colors are amazing! Your camping angel is firmly attached to you! What beauty you are finding! Years ago I camped at Navajo National Monument and remember the nights as so amazing with no light pollution! I mention this because the weather channel just showed that Saturn is now visiable with the naked eye at night, rings and all! I’m not sure which direction you should look but I bet you could see Saturn very well from there! Tummy rubs to the crew and looking forward to hitting the road next week sometime!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I wanted to post more photos of The Painted Desert. The colors and formations are eye-catching for sure! We had cloud cover here when we went to bed last night. I’ll look at the stars tonight (and maybe Saturn) as I do every night.

      I know you are getting anxious to get out on the road. Good luck with your art sale!

  36. Ms. Minimal says:

    The view is breathtaking! Thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through you, Sue.

  37. Wayne Scott says:

    Ok now I gotta check out that antenna. I’m hunting your site for the model # etc.

  38. Well before you direct me, I see it, the link at the top, should have known. Thanks,

  39. cozybegone says:

    WOW….every time I open your blog I’m blown away. What a special landing…may the spirits be with you! You sure hit the jackpot … I’d be doing my happy dance for sure. On to your next post…I’ve been four behind and this is just what I needed today…may you continued to be blessed and saying “thank you for sharing” never seems enough!

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