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NAVAJO NATIONAL MONUMENT
Navajo National Monument was established by President Taft in 1909 to protect three ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings known as Betatakin, Keet Seel, and Inscription House, located on the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. They exist today as remarkably well-preserved dwellings, built hundreds of years ago.
Of these three sets of ruins, only Betatakin and Keet Seel remain open to the public. Inscription House was closed in 1968 due to its advanced state of deterioration and unsafe condition. Betatakin and Keet Seel however, are spectacularly well preserved. Both are located in a deep canyon, requiring a descent of about 1000 feet. Betatakin is easier to reach, requiring about a 5 mile hike, while Keet Seel is about 18.5 miles. As you might expect, the Keet Seel ruins are, by far, much larger and more spectacular.
Keet Seel is the largest village at Navajo National Monument and one of the best preserved in the Southwest, It was also occupied much longer than Betatakin. Tree-ring dating and pottery fragments show that people settled here by 950. By 1300, they finally departed altogether, but not before sealing the entryways of many rooms containing pottery jars filled with corn. The craftsmanship, the architecture and the state of preservation for both sites is stunning.
Each site can be done in a single day (not both, of course), but the hike to Keet Seel is one which requires that you be in excellent physical condition, especially if you plan on doing it in one day.
Click here for the full trip report on Betatakin.
Click here for the full trip report on Keet Seel.