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24 September 2018 / leggypeggy

A bonus stop at the Navajo National Monument

Betatakin cliffs dwellings in the Navajo National Monument

The south-facing Betatakin cliff dwellings in the Navajo National Monument. 

Betatakin, Navajo National MonumentLuckily for us, our western USA camping tour included a brief stop at a site not mentioned on the original itinerary—the Navajo National Monument.

Named for the people who now occupy the region, the monument protects Betatakin, Keet Seel and Inscription House—three well-preserved collections of dwellings that were built hundreds of years ago by Ancestral Puebloans (sometimes called Anasazi).

About 800 years ago, the land surrounding the national monument was dotted with Ancestral Puebloan farms. Their villages were nearby and they traded in goods such as cotton, turquoise, sea shell and parrot feathers. Rainfall was scarce back then and the Puebloans were eventually forced to move on or relocate to the cliffs.

Betatakin, Navajo National Monument

The Betatakin cliffs and dwellings were what we visited. Well sort of. We hiked the 1.3-mile Sandal Trail that took us to a spot where we overlooked those dwellings.

As an aside, Inscription House is closed to the public and getting to Keet Seel takes many, many hours.

The Ancestral Puebloans lived in Betatakin from about 1250 to 1300. Their agricultural fields were on the canyon rims and floors, but they lived in the cliff face’s alcove. The alcove was deep enough to provide shelter from bad weather and, because it faced south, was able to make the most of sunshine in summer and winter.

Archeologists think about 125 people lived in Betatakin in the Puebloan heyday. They reckon the people spent most of their time outdoors, tending fields. About 135 rooms—used for food storage, living and ceremonies—have been documented.

The cliff dwellers stayed for about five decades, and then moved on. No one is sure why they did, but theories abound—drought, erosion, social pressures, religious dictates or other unknown causes? Tree-rings show that a 20-year drought ended about 1300.

These ancient dwellings were rediscovered in the late 1880s.

Our stop included a bit of time at the visitor centre, where artefacts—especially pottery—are displayed.

P.S. All the scenery pics are from our walk along the Sandal Trail, so not every pic has a caption.

Some definitions
Anasazi—Navajo (Diné) word meaning ancient ones.

Ancestral Puebloans—they also lived at Mesa Verde (coming soon), Chavo Canyon, Aztec Ruins, Wupatki, Walnut Canyon and more.

Betatakin—Navajo word meaning ‘ledge house’.

Diné—Navajo name for their own people.

Keet Seel—Navajo for ‘broken pottery scattered around’.

Betatakin, Navajo National Monument


Leave a Comment
  1. Eliza Ayres / Sep 24 2018 10:29 pm

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal and commented:
    Loving your trip and photos, Peggy!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. ralietravels / Sep 24 2018 10:32 pm

    I have been enjoying your Southwest travels. I doubt many from the US have seen the Navajo National Monument.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 24 2018 10:34 pm

      It was an unexpected stop for us. The photos aren’t amazing, but I thought the stop was well worth reporting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. beetleypete / Sep 24 2018 10:36 pm

    More fascinating natural and man-made treasures from your travels, Peggy. Always a delight.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Popping Wheelies / Sep 24 2018 10:47 pm

    Very interesting and some great pictures. The 20 year drought prior to 1300 caught my attention.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 7:03 am

      Thanks. We are very drought conscious in Australia. Some areas here haven’t had rain for seven years.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Popping Wheelies / Sep 25 2018 7:20 am

        I was aware of your drought but not aware it’s that bad. I hope things improve for everyone.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 7:30 am

        Thanks, but the forecasts are not promising. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  5. paolsoren / Sep 24 2018 10:55 pm

    Peggy, It has happened again. Your post on the Navajo Monument just appeared on my blog as an “Information” in the column where comments appear. It also happened with LordBofB’s lost post.
    I have asked WP for help but haven’t received any response from them. I just ignore it but is is strange. And I don’t know how to contact WP any more directly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 7:04 am

      Very strange. The only thing I can suggest is to unfollow me and then re-follow later on. That might break the ‘spell’.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paolsoren / Sep 25 2018 8:32 am

        I have unfollowed you and will refollow later. But maybe tomorrow you could post a dummy post and take it down an hour later and I will see what happens.

        Liked by 1 person

      • paolsoren / Sep 25 2018 8:35 am

        But I also think you must unfollow me as well and re follow.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 8:47 am

        I hope to post tomorrow about Monument Valley. Fingers crossed.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Derrick / Sep 24 2018 10:56 pm

    Did you see the plateau where John Wayne posed on horse back ?
    There is a Navajo who does it now for tips, make a great photo
    Did you read about the wind talkers in the museum ?
    We met one of them on our trip, hard to think what he went through, killed before he could be captured
    He was really willing to tell us his story (god only knows how old he was) he showed us photos of him in his marine uniform with other marines, nice old boy he was
    But driving around the trail was really interesting, just took far too many photos, but in monument valley it’s easy to get carried away
    Monument valley was also the backdrop to a lot of western films (have a look at some of the John Wayne films how many places can you recognise ?

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 7:10 am

      Hi Derrick, I don’t know if we saw John Wayne’s plateau in particular, but we certainly took in all the sights. We did see a display about the Navajos who served as code talkers during World War II. Remarkable stories there. We also got to Monument Valley (which is not too far from the Navajo National Monument). I’ll write about that next.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. MichaelStephenWills / Sep 25 2018 12:32 am

    Great coverage, Peggy. There is so much so see in that area. Canyon de Chelly is another Navajo Historical/Cultural site in the area.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Phil Huston / Sep 25 2018 1:36 am

    The Navajo are a peaceful people. With an amazingly complex language dating back 1,000 years. They have no slang, or “bad words.” It may not be widely known but a very high percentage of “Injuns” from whatever tribe portrayed in American Westerns were Navajo. Their land was desolate and excellent for filming that genre and as before, they were easy to get along with. And probably the only people to make fun of the size of John Wayne’s manhood to his face. And not get busted. Those stories are better told here

    As for the Navajos, we should all find time occassionally to walk the magic that is the Navajo Way. How the realms of the “real” and the spiritual are entertwined and constant and all things are related. Because when the wind talks and the mountains sing, it’s real and we might learn something if we listened.

    As always, amazing pictures, amazing journey. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 7:23 am

      Oh Phil, thanks so much for the link to that article. Yes, we could learn a lot from many cultures if only we were better listeners.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. theunassuminghiker / Sep 25 2018 1:45 am

    Are you still in the U.S.? That’s a long trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Derrick / Sep 25 2018 2:05 am

    We took this as a side trip when we did Route 66
    We also saw the petrified forest and Death valley (it had record temperatures when we were there 121c, don’t know if it’s got any higher since)
    But to see Monument Valley at its best I think it would be on horse back and camp out overnight

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 7:26 am

      I agree completely. It would be best to see all this on horseback and camping.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Curt Mekemson / Sep 25 2018 2:30 am

    Stopped off there several years ago, Peggy and I walked the Sandal Trail. Thanks for the revisit! –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jacqui Murray / Sep 25 2018 3:23 am

    So this is where Tony Hillerman’s characters hang out. Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 7:28 am

      Stayed tuned for my post on Monument Vally, which is near to the Navajo National Monument.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Superduque777 / Sep 25 2018 7:30 am

    Liked by 1 person

  14. onecreativefamily / Sep 25 2018 9:36 am

    One of my favorite places. I loved Mesa Verde so much. We were there 2 yrs ago and will be revisit it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 12:34 pm

      We also had the chance to visit the wonderful Mesa Verde. I’ll post about it soon-ish!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. shawnthompsonart / Sep 25 2018 12:09 pm

    Nice photos, and interesting landscapes. I also like the photos of the pottery and dinosaur footprint.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 12:35 pm

      They had two dinosaur footprints in the visitor centre and I posted the more distinct image. Glad you like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. gerard oosterman / Sep 25 2018 12:29 pm

    A great journey and narrative. I am trying to understand how it must have felt living in those rooms and during that period. I am sure the Navajo communities at that time worked very well. They must have cooked with fire. Where did they get the wood from? What were their favourite recipes?

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 12:39 pm

      We were told that some Navajo communities still live a very basic existence with no electricity and no running water. Hard to imagine. I assume they cooked with fire. Indian fry bread is one recipe they made. It’s still popular today and probably easier to make with baking powder.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. dreamweaver333 / Sep 25 2018 1:57 pm

    Reblogged this on dreamweaver333.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. efge63 / Sep 25 2018 4:44 pm

    Good morning !!

    Really great Post. I learned so much about…

    Walking in Beauty: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony
    In beauty I walk
    With beauty before me I walk
    With beauty behind me I walk
    With beauty above me I walk
    With beauty around me I walk
    It has become beauty again
    Hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shideigi hózhóogo naasháa doo
T’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa doo
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
    Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me
    I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
    I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.
    I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
    I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
    I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
    In beauty all day long may I walk.
    Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
    On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
    With dew about my feet, may I walk.
    With beauty before me may I walk.
    With beauty behind me may I walk.
    With beauty below me may I walk.
    With beauty above me may I walk.
    With beauty all around me may I walk.
    In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
    In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
    My words will be beautiful…

    Linguistic Note: The word “Hozho” in Dine’ (roughly translated) Concept of Balance and Beauty. Consideration of the nature of the universe, the world, and man, and the nature of time and space, creation, growth, motion, order, control, and the life cycle includes all these other Navajo concepts expressed in terms quite impossible to translate into English. Some Navajos might prefer the term: “Nizhoni” meaning ‘just beauty.”
    Written by Robert S. Drake, for Tom Holm, PhD, University of Arizona American Indian Graduate Studies Program, Native American Religions and Spirituality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 8:47 pm

      Such a beautiful and informative post. Thanks so much. We’ve had a hard day with a very sick dog, so the words are uplifting.

      Liked by 2 people

      • efge63 / Sep 25 2018 8:52 pm

        Aww .. I am sorry … I wish your dog to overcome the problem……

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2018 8:56 pm

        Thanks, but I think the outcome will be sad.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. derrickjknight / Sep 25 2018 8:11 pm

    History and photography – good work

    Liked by 1 person

  20. bestregardsfromfar / Sep 25 2018 10:43 pm

    Wow, such an amazing post with great photographs! We are going on a roadtrip through the U.S.A. (we are from Paris) this Spring and your post definitely got me counting the days! Thanks! Best, Marcella

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 26 2018 7:23 am

      You’ll have a fantastic time. I’ll be adding more posts about our trip. They may provide more inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Invisibly Me / Sep 26 2018 6:11 am

    This made for fascinating reading! Also piqued my curiosity as to why the cliff dwellers moved on, maybe its one of those mysteries that will never have a proper answer. It’s great you got to go to the Navajo National Monument despite it not originally being planned. Amazing photos as always! xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 26 2018 7:25 am

      I think you’re right. We’ll most likely never know why the cliff dwellers moved on. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 2 people

  22. lulu / Sep 26 2018 7:09 am

    I am always fascinated to explore Pueblo’s and imagine the lives lived in them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 26 2018 7:30 am

      We were told that some people in this area still live a very basic life with no electricity and no running water.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. America On Coffee / Sep 26 2018 1:42 pm

    This is an excellent highlight of the tour. So glad you enjoyed! You are an excellent tour guide. (-:

    Liked by 2 people

  24. chattykerry / Sep 27 2018 12:12 am

    These are beautiful photographs, Peggy, and a reminder that America is not as new as we perceive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 27 2018 6:56 am

      Excellent point, Kerry. America is ancient. Aren’t we lucky to have the evidence!

      Liked by 2 people

      • chattykerry / Sep 28 2018 6:00 am

        There are still some people who believe the Vikings came first…⛏

        Liked by 1 person

  25. kkessler833 / Sep 28 2018 8:11 am

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Sep 30 2018 3:56 am

    Thank you, Peggy, for this wonderful tour of these incredible monuments and cliff dwellings. The alcove is HUGE – impossible to imagine until you see those tiny dwellings tucked like doll furniture deep inside. And I love the tall arched cliff face that looks like a natural cathedral. It’s thought provoking to consider how the Navajo made this sere land into a home, that even though they no longer live there, the legacy of their lives remains. Of course I know about Canyon de Chelly, but this one is new to me. I hope one day to see this in person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2018 9:02 am

      You are most welcome. Like you, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of that alcove. I hope you get to see it one day.

      Liked by 2 people

  27. jeanleesworld / Sep 30 2018 9:07 pm

    Lovely photos as always. No small wonder such a place can inspire so many stories and legends. Oh, for a time machine to see what life was truly like back then! x

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2018 11:48 pm

      Oh wow, you’ve opened a can of worms. Now I want a Time Machine.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jeanleesworld / Oct 1 2018 2:11 am

        I know, right? Bo is reading the HG Wells’ novel to Blondie right now, and it’s got us all thinking about time machines. 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 2 people

  28. Nilzeitung / Oct 1 2018 9:48 pm

    Toll !!!!>>>>>(*L*) Ja !!!!Toll (°J°)

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 1 2018 10:08 pm

      Thanks so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nilzeitung / Oct 1 2018 10:38 pm

        I want to kill you too because of nice weather !!!! wish you a great week great happy days,

        Liked by 2 people

      • Nilzeitung / Oct 1 2018 10:45 pm

        I am terribly sorry I also want to envy you because of the nice weather !!!! wish you a great week great happy days,

        Liked by 2 people

      • Nilzeitung / Oct 1 2018 10:50 pm

        ich bedaure das google übersetzt total falsch macht was sie will. es tut mir sehr leid.

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Oct 2 2018 7:26 am

        Your comment about the weather made me laugh. I know Google Translate doesn’t work very well most of the time. I knew you meant jealous or envious. Thanks for commenting and thanks for the laugh.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. Forestwood / Oct 2 2018 10:18 am

    It is always intriguing to think about why a civilization left the place it had inhabited for so long. Perhaps it was environmental, as suggested, but as with the Viking settlement in Greenland, the environmental pressures caused worsening health issues that prevented them from eeking out their existence in a harsh environment.. (ie. of all things chronic middle ear infections!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 2 2018 12:07 pm

      I had no idea chronic middle ear infections tormented the Vikings. Always something new to learn.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Forestwood / Oct 2 2018 12:12 pm

        Absolutely. and blogging is always another way to learn!! I watched a few documentaries on the Viking’s early settlements in Greenland. I believe that they suffered with the ear trouble due to a lack of nutrition, and not understanding, as the Inuit did, how to live in that harsh environment. That local knowledge of an area is so vital. We see that with many new settlers in many cultures around the world, don’t you think, Peggy?

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Oct 2 2018 3:48 pm

        Local knowledge helps, but I think a desire to settle and having people around you to help you settle make the biggest difference.

        Liked by 1 person

  30. Nilzeitung / Oct 4 2018 7:27 am

    guten Morgen !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 4 2018 8:15 am

      Same to you, although if you are in Germany, I should say guten Abend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nilzeitung / Oct 4 2018 8:34 am

        love thanks!, Yes, I’m in Germany, now you can – say night good. because 00: 30. cufflin wake up, fisrt must go to sleep as the Moon and Sun we alternate us, so good morning.

        Liked by 1 person

  31. Green Global Trek / Oct 4 2018 2:11 pm

    Love the photos of the cliffs and the dwellings!! And oh the pottery….gorgeous! Looks incredible.


    Liked by 1 person

  32. Lynz Real Cooking / Oct 5 2018 12:32 am

    Thanks for sharing these amazing photos Peggy! You are giving us a great view of such gorgeous scenery!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Sheryl / Oct 8 2018 11:57 am

    The Navajo National Monument looks wonderful. It’s fascinating to learn more about how the cliff dwellers lived.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 8 2018 12:38 pm

      It’s a fascinating part of the country to visit. So rewarding.


  34. danielwalldammit / Oct 16 2018 8:30 pm

    Love the pottery display.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 16 2018 11:08 pm

      You’re the first person to comment on the pottery. I love it too.


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