Saturday, June 23, 2012

Navajo National Monument: Betatakin Ruins

Yesterday evening Noelle and I made our way to Navajo National Monument. The monument terrain is a great contrast to the surrounding landscape. Right away we were impressed. We found a site at the clean, well-maintained, and free Sunset View Campground. Wee set up camp, ate dinner and then I went for a little walk on the Canyon Rim Trail. The walk was interesting. It started at the visitor center near an old hogan and Navajo cart and led to an old visitor contact station left over from the 60s.
Hogan and Wagon
Old Contact Station
I retraced my way back to camp and settled in for the night.

In the morning we headed over to the visitor center for our guided hike to the Betatakin Ruins. We met our guide at about 8:15. His name was Bill Little and we followed him in his truck to the trailhead.  The hike started out on an old road with lots of great views looking out over the Tsegi Canyon system.
Canyon View
Bill explained some of the Navajo uses of some of the plants that we saw as we hiked. Soon the road ended and we were on a trail. The trail we followed left the monument and later reentered it. The trail was built back in the 30s by the CCC. The boys even left a few marks on the sandstone along the trail.
More CCC Graffiti

We descended into the canyon and made our way up to the ruins.
Noelle hikes Into Canyon
The ruins were impressive.
Betatakin View
In my opinion they are just as interesting as any other cliff dwellings anywhere and said to be amongst the best preserved. We walked to a spot just outside the ruin complex and Bill told us about some of the archeology and discussed how life may have been for the Ancestral Puebloans who lived there. Then he took us to see some interesting pictographs and petroglyphs.
Sheep Petroglyphs

After admiring the ruins and rock art, Noelle and I were on our own to hike back to the car.
Noelle Leaving Ruins
The views were spectacular, but the temperature was rising and there wasn't much shade on the trail. It was hard work trudging through some of the loose sand in the noontime sun,
Noelle on Trail
Hiiking in the canyon
The tough, sandy section of trail.
Hiking out of the Canyon
but eventually we made it back up to the canyon rim, and shortly thereafter to the car.             

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