Sandal Trail at Navajo National Monument

“Okay, guys!  We’re off!”

“Today I’m going to walk Sandal Trail and you two are going to be good and wait for me.”  Bridget and Spike jump into the Perfect Tow Vehicle, happily unaware that they aren’t getting out again until we’re back at our campsite.

I drive us to the Visitors’ Center, park the PTV in the shade, crack the windows, and say goodbye to the crew.

Crying ensues. 

I close my ears to it and walk away.  Spoiled babies. 

I’m glad I didn’t bring Bridget and Spike along on the trail. 

There aren’t any signs prohibiting dogs, but it’s a nice change to take pictures without someone pulling me by the leash in my hand.

This is a treat.  What a perfect day for this.  The trail starts with a display of a Navajo three-fork structure and a small sweat lodge.  Along the trail interpretive markers explain how native plants were used by the Hopi, Navajo, Southern Paiute, and Zuni.  Pinon pines pose artfully on slabs of rock.

At the trail’s end there’s an overlook where the Betatakin village comes into view. 

Four people are on the overlook when I get there.  They chatter in German and hold up cameras that look like cannons.  When they leave, I take my turn at the spy glass.   I can see the rooms of the village (circa 1250-1300) tucked under the sandstone alcove.  (I won’t give you a history lesson here.  You can do a search and learn more.)

There  are three easy trails at Navajo National Monument.

(I’ll walk another one tomorrow!)  One trail that I won’t be hiking is the trail to Keet Seel, which is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the Southwest.  It’s a 17-mile (roundtrip) overnight backpacking hike that takes you 1,000 feet down to the canyon floor. That is, if you make it.  It is very strenuous.

You have to make reservations for that hike.  A guide takes you through the dwellings, and each tour is limited to twenty people.  There’s also a day-long, guided hike to see Betatakin up close.  Maybe that’s your speed.

Sandal Trail is my kind of trail.

It’s not very long (only 1.3 miles round trip), paved, a gradual descent, and with bridges and handrails for going over the rough spots!

After walking Sandal Trail, I return to the PTV and the crew. 

Unlocking the door, two sleepy-eyed faces appear.  Bridget and Spike are happy to see me.  (Being left behind apparently is forgotten.)  “I had FUN!”  They wiggle with delight.

If you plan to come to Navajo National Monument, maybe you should skip the slideshow.  I don’t want to spoil it for you!

Sandal Trail and Betatakin Canyon

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I ask a park employee if Canyon View Campground ever gets crowded.

He says that more people come here starting in June when the guided hikes are offered.  You can camp in either of the two campgrounds for seven days.  Tomorrow I’ll show you the view from our back yard!



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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62 Responses to Sandal Trail at Navajo National Monument

  1. jeff says:

    all I can say about the pictures is ‘wow”

  2. Rita from Phoenix says:

    Santa Mick gave you one nice camera! The clarity is unbelievable. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Val. Lakefield Ontario says:

    Thanks for the fabulous slide show……..Glad the crew settled down so you could go alone. Loved the Spike shot at the trailer door yesterday.

  4. Chuck says:

    WOW, another great slide show!!!!

  5. mockturtle says:

    Beautiful! My kind of place.

  6. Ed says:

    Sue, when I open your blog page the Slide Show will always start cycling. Is there some way that you can have the Slide Show not start until I click it to start? This is not a biggie but you talk about not streaming videos because you don’t want to use up all of your monthly byte allotment. I am the same way so it would help us frugal types if we could start the Slide Show when we wanted too. I sometimes remember to page down looking for a Slide Show that I can turn off but when you get old the memory is not what it once was.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Ed .. .The only thing I can think of to suggest is ALWAYS scroll down when opening up my blog to see if there is a slideshow. If there is one, click to stop it from cycling.

      I’m curious if this is a problem for many readers. It doesn’t seem to use up much for me, as I have it on for a long time while I answer comments, never thinking to stop it from cycling.

      I try not to post slideshows often. It is the best way I have of showing a lot of photos, not just for readers, but also for myself.

      So remember, Ed, scroll down, scroll down… and thank you for coming back.

      • Mick says:

        The slide show is not streaming video. The photos are downloaded once and held in local memory. To prove this watch the activity light on your modem; with streaming video it will run full speed forever.

        • Ed says:

          Thanks Mick, that makes me feel better when I forget to scroll down and shut the Slide Show off while I read the blog text.

      • Dominick Bundy says:

        Hi, sue and Crew. Awesome pictures. I always stop the cycling. then simply click on the arrow each time I’m ready to see the next photo. Very easy, no problem at all.

  7. Dave says:

    I was able to hike to the ruins back in 70’s and I remember it being a strenuous walk. I noticed the paved trail and it’s unusual to see one in such an isolated area. Today, I use a power wheel chair and was wondering if that trail is good enough to use one on? I’m always looking for paved trails.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Dave . . . You know, I was thinking about people who use a wheelchair when I was walking the trail, wondering if that is why it’s paved. The paved surface is very smooth and the trail is wide enough. I believe you’d have no problem going down the trail to the overlook.

      As for the return, I really don’t know. It’s uphill all the way, and I don’t know how much power your wheel chair has on an incline.

      I’ll see if I can find anything online about it. I’ll also ask at the Visitors’ Center if people have used power chairs on that trail without a problem.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Here’s an interesting blog called Wheelchair Travel Adventures (you may already have seen it). The link will take you to their experience at Navajo NM. I’ll continue to see what I can find out.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Dave . . . I spoke with the lady at the Visitors’ Center. She does not recall whether anyone in a power wheelchair did the Sandal Trail. She thought maybe the path tilted too much to the side (I didn’t get that impression myself). We both agreed it would be better to try it with another person along. If alone, you could, of course, try it and turn around if you change your mind.

      If you are going through this area and your rig isn’t too long, I think you could come up here and get enjoyment from this place, even if you didn’t go all the way to the end of the trail (although it truly sucks if you couldn’t do it).

      I wish I could give you a definitive answer, Dave. I’m fortunate never having needed to learn anything about power wheelchairs. Please reply so I know you saw this.

      • Dave says:

        Thank you very much for your info and research. I’ll put this on my list to go to. I was at the fort in St. Augustine once and the ranger told me when I got to the gate that she was impressed with the way my chair climbed the slope. She said some really have trouble getting up the hill. I didn’t think it was that steep, but it did give me some reference. Thanks again.

      • Dave says:

        Also thanks for the link. I’ve seen some in the past, but not this one.

  8. cinandjules (NY) says:

    WOW is right! Love the slide show.

    This blog has always been informative….neat places, interesting sights and wonderful stories.
    I laughed that the crew initially balked at your decision to leave them in the PTV…..and when you came back they both had sleepy eyes. Yawn…stretch….yawn! Sue you’re back already? Geez that was fast. We just closed our eyes for a second!

    The cliff dweller tour sounds really neat…just the overnight part would make it impossible (crew) but then again 17 miles..1000 feet down means 1000 feet back up! Ah hah…one of Rusty’s donkeys with Spike and Bridget in the saddlebag…now that would work!

    I’m going to miss the photos of your backyard. I’m sure they are going to be breathtaking. Tomorrow I’m flying to Caleeefornia to pet sit my parent’s dog for two weeks. So don’t send out an APB…………. hopefully when I get back there will be an address for Rusty.

    Until then safe travels and keep living your dash! 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Gee, I’ll miss your regular comments here!

      Your description of the crew waking up when I came back is perfect. That’s how they acted … 🙂

      I’d want to ride a donkey on a trail that long and steep!

      Have a wonderful visit with your parents’ dog!

  9. katydid says:

    Wow, what a great slide show.

  10. TexCyn says:

    Thanks for today’s tour. I don’t think I’d be taking the 17 mile hike either, although I’ll bet it’s really something! I’m pretty sure my dogs would not like me being gone overnight. (nor could I walk that much right now anyhow)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I read a hiker’s account of the hike. Don’t remember where online. It sounded exhausting. You have to carry a 2-day supply of water on your back, along with your food and sleeping gear. You have to climb down a steep cliff, cross sand dunes (2 steps forward, 1 step back, and climb a 60 foot ladder to get into the dwellings! Not to mention the trip back . . . And during the summer?

      I’m sorry to read you are having problems with walking . . .

  11. Dixie Nivala says:

    Fabulous pix–what gorgeous country!!! I know what you experience with the crew– My 2 Min Pins do the same thing if they think I’m leaving without them! Sometimes I just have to have a little break and not take them! I don’t know that they forgive me or Not! Hugs to the pups! Dixie

  12. Judie from Alabama says:

    Great slideshow, mine doesn’t start automatically, only when I click on it. Enjoyed it all. Thanks!

  13. placestheygo says:

    Glad you were able to get out and enjoy a hike by yourself. I’m sure the crew would have loved it but you definitely got to view more alone. Looking forward to your backyard pictures!

  14. Reine in Plano,TX says:

    Your pictures are great and we watched the slide show even though we’re going in June. Pictures just can’t convey the same impression as being there in person. The shadows change during the day. The wind blows the trees. It’s just different in person.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Reine,

      After talking with the Park employee about increased number of visitors starting in June (due to the tours starting), I’m concerned that you might get here and not be able to find a campsite long enough for your truck/Casita. It’s a long way from anywhere, so be sure to come early in the day in case you can’t grab a site.

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

    Oh my! What a wonderful place! I wish I could have gone when I was much younger, though even then, I may not have been able to do the 17 miler if it’s that tough. Maybe in my next

    I would love to see some of those cliff dwelling sites, the petroglyphs and other ancient sites. It’s on my Leap List. (I like that name better than Bucket List.) Reading this is making my feet itchy to get going and start making my dream a reality! I appreciate your (almost) daily reminder that it can be done.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Donna,

      Looking at my Utah atlas, there are a LOT of petroglyphs and cliff dwelling sites in Utah. I’m guessing you wouldn’t have to walk 17 miles over rough terrain to see some of them! Since I’ve retired, if an activity has any resemblance to work, I don’t do it. 🙂

  16. gingerda says:

    I am with everyone else, I loved the slide show. Mine starts automatically too and didn’t realize that if I click on it the arrows pop up and I can stop at each picture and then hit the arrow to go forward again.
    I think that’s pretty neat that the walk way is paved and then handrails to cross over rough spots. Now if they had a bench to sit on along the way it would be perfect. lol.
    Ginger Las Vegas

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      There ARE benches along the way! I think three in all, if I remember correctly, and another one at the overlook. I took a photo but didn’t include it because the slideshow was long already.

  17. geogypsy2u says:

    I have a friend that works there and keep meaning to go. Thanks for the possible motivation.

  18. Lefty says:

    This is on my list of places I will see.

  19. CT says:

    What a beautiful area! Thanks so much for sharing the scenery with us!

  20. Pam says:

    An idea to be able to take pics while walking the pups and not being tugged on so much is to use a bungee cord. Put their leash through the bungee and then hook it to your belt loops, or waistline if you are without loops.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hey, I’ll try that! Thanks, Pam. I could hook them together with the thingamabob that is like two leashes joined at a swivel, and then hook the leash to my pants and hope they don’t pull my pants off!

  21. derocknut says:

    Those are beautiful pictures Sue. You do such a wonderful job of showing us the views. I had never heard of the Navajo National Monument so thanks for giving me the heads up to such a beautiful place. I wonder if you are getting the wind we have had and if your hat stayed on but since you didn’t mention it I suppose it did. Glad that walkway is paved so more people can see the area. That 17 mile hike sounds exhausting, bet not a lot of people take it. Good thing you are there when it’s basically all yours, that’s the best time to be anywhere IMHO.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I appreciate you letting me know you enjoyed the photos. You give me motivation to take more! We had wind the night before last, pretty strong. One day of wind before that. Last two days have been calm with slight breeze.

  22. Breathtaking pictures!!!! The slide show was a real treat. My first thought at the down, down down photo was…Oh no, I wouldn’t be able to make it back UP!!! I really envy your walking ability. Great pictures…great blog!! Love you!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I think you’d do fine here, Pauline. It isn’t that steep going back and there are benches along the way.

      You’re my favorite cheerleader. Thanks. Love you, too.

  23. phxross says:

    Off topic, sorry, but just realized I fell off your blog list… Suddenly thought “Sue hasn’t been blogging” but realized I nay have been evicted from the list (for auto receipt of the blog). I re-signed up today. Have you heard of this before? Anything I need to do to keep the “subscription” going? (checked my spam, etc)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      No, I haven’t heard of that happening to anyone else. Did you do a ‘restore” lately to a point before you subscribed? You weren’t evicted!

      Nice that you want to make sure you don’t miss my posts. 🙂

      (BTW, the only things that are off-topic on my blog are X-rated posts, impolite posts, and downright mean posts.)

  24. Kay says:

    Such beautiful pictures Sue. I am glad the crew gave you some “alone” time, and that you came back to find all was fine.

    Old man winter graced us with several more inches of heavy wet snow on May 1st. I’ve decided his eyesight has failed, or maybe dementia has set in and his calendar may not be flipped monthly.

    You’ll have lots of new things to discover, and we’ll all be waiting to see the beauty through your lens.

    Happy travels.

    PS OCD Rowdy on his 7th hour of romping in the yard, he managed to steal an entire roll of white trash bags and by the looks of the muddy mess, he has the whole roll unrolled back there. I haven’t the energy at the moment to gather them up. Grrrrr

  25. dawnkinster says:

    I may get there, but I’m glad to see pictures today! Looks beautiful. We visited somewhat similar cliff dwellings in NM a couple of years ago. So fascinating to imagine what life was like.

  26. Cari in North Texas says:

    I watched your slideshow even though I do plan on visiting this area someday 🙂 Beautiful photos, as always! It kind of reminded me of my visit to Mesa Verde National Park. I took the guided tour to Cliff House (I think that’s the right name) that was definitely not 17 hours, but it was way hot. I can’t imagine taking an overnight hike at this stage of my life, but who knows? I just need to get in shape LOL

    Your crew is always good for a laugh, crying when you leave, but then sleeping until you return.

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