“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.
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
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!