Road Trip Through the Western Agency of Navajo Nation
The new year is the perfect time to start planning your summer and spring road trips! Cowboy Lifestyle Network is proud to be partnering with the Navajo Nation to help promote their culture and hidden gems on the reservation. Today, we are thrilled to take a virtual trip through the Western Agency of the Navajo Nation. Fun fact, Agencies on the reservation act much like counties do. In addition, we are excited to highlight Western Agency Delegate, Paul Begay and get some feedback about his work as a legislator for the Navajo people.
Delegate Paul Begay lives in Page, Arizona with his wife Cindy. Paul attended Tuba City Boarding School for early education, then attended Richfield Jr High and graduated from Richfield High School. His college years were spent at Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, and Dine College, Tsaile, Arizona. In his free time, he enjoys fishing but claims being a Council Delegate is a very demanding job so he doesn’t fish as much anymore these days.
CLN: What are causes do you support? What are you passionate about?
Paul: Each chapter that I oversee has projects that they really want to complete for their community. I would like to help make that a reality for them. I’m proud to have sponsored the Western Navajo Pipeline that was approved by the Navajo Nation Council and signed by President Nez and Vice-President Lizer. It’s a major accomplishment that will bring water to the Western Navajo region.
CLN: What are the major issues in the community you represent?
Paul: The number one issue is lack of water. Water that can be used by our people, livestock, farming, to build homes, schools, hospitals, public safety buildings, roads, stores, etc. We need water to start and complete any project or infrastructure that we want to build.
CLN: What would you like to accomplish before the end of your term?
Paul: I would like to have completed at least two major projects for each of the five chapters that I represent. The pandemic is making these plans difficult but we are trying our best.
CLN: Are there any areas in your region that you want people to learn more about?
Paul: My region is located in the middle of various National Parks & Monuments and Tribal Parks. The world-renowned Antelope Slot Canyons are located within the LeChee Chapter. Forbes Magazine chose our Antelope Slot Canyons as the #1 “go-to” place in the whole world about four years ago! This spectacular site is surrounded by the Grand Canyon, Zions National Park, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Petrified Forest, just to name a few. We hope to see you soon!
Now that we’ve learned a little more about Delegate Begay, let’s talk about the Western Agency. The first thing you should know about the Western Agency is that it is the largest Navajo Nation Agency (5,579,499.49 acres) out of the five agencies (Western Agency, Central Agency, Fort Defiance Agency, Eastern Agency, and the Northern Agency). Inside of the Western Agency, there are 18 Chapters and 5 Districts. Let’s jump into your trip itinerary!
Stop #1: Twin Arrows Navajo Casino & Resort
Every savvy traveler has a home base for their road trip, so why not start your journey at one of the best casino resorts in the state? Not to mention, it’s closer to all of your road trip destinations than it would be traveling from the valley. Situated on the “mother road,” Route 66, you’ll find that this is a perfect way to begin your Navajo excursion.
Twin Arrows is Northern Arizona’s premier casino resort destination. It is nestled within a picturesque view of the majestic San Francisco Peaks just east of Flagstaff, Twin Arrows is the centerpiece of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise’s properties. You can stay here knowing that both art and architecture have been combined to embody and showcase the rich history of the Navajo people while providing an unparalleled casino resort experience. The resort is known for its high-profile amenities, including luxury guest rooms, gourmet dining, culturally infused casual dining, a fitness center, a heated indoor pool, and more than 11,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting space. You can’t beat staying at the Twin Arrows Casino Resort.
Stop #2: Little Colorado River Tribal Park
The Grand Canyon is a beautiful place to visit, but to see exceptional beauty, you should head to the eastern gateway of the Grand Canyon at the Little Colorado River Tribal Park, which is only a short 7 miles from the start of the Grand Canyon. The Little Colorado River Gorge is considered the gateway to the historic Grand Canyon, the LCR has two viewpoints that are within walking distance from the parking lot for your viewing pleasure. There are plenty of ramadas and park benches for your enjoyment. The rugged terrain and ridged rocks are what the area has to offer for the avid adventurer. Please note you must attain a Backcountry Permit before hiking. For more information, you can visit the Navajo Park and Recreation Visitor Center located at the entrance into the canyon. Hwy 89 and 64. It’s located about 10 miles from the Navajo Parks and Recreation Visitor Center.
Stop #3: Horseshoe Bend
Everyone should know the iconic Horseshoe Bend, but what about getting a tour of it? When you are mapping out your time allocation, make sure to give yourself an ample amount of time to explore everything this beauty has to offer. With so many options for hiking, flying, or floating, there truly is something for everyone. If you choose to do a flying tour, that would be the best way to see as much as you can in a short period of time, but if you’re down to get adventurous, we highly recommend hiking or booking a guided raft tour. There is no wrong way to get outside and start exploring, below is one of the tour companies that take care of the details for you!
- Horseshoe bend resides 1,000 feet above the rivers surface which is equivalent to a 99-storey building.
- The formation was created over the course of a billion years and was caused by the continual flow of water through the canyon walls.
Stop #4: Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon
This might be the most picturesque stop of your whole trip, although it may also take the most planning. All visitors are required to book a tour to view the sculptured slot canyons. Not to worry though, there are several authorized tour guides in the area that are happy to impart their knowledge about the area’s history and geology. The canyons have been shaped by several million years of water and wind erosion, and the result? The magnificent canyon was named for the herds of pronghorn antelope that once roamed the area. The most popular tour is the Upper Antelope Canyon because more sunlight enters the canyon and the walls reach up to 120 feet. The Lower Antelope Canyon tour is equally impressive, immersing visitors in the swirling embrace of sandstone walls. For more information, please check out this website.
Stop #5: Navajo Nation Monument
Home of the two largest ruins in the state of Arizona; Betatakin and Keet Seel. This is a great stop where visitors can learn about the “ancient ones” that once roamed the land. Navajo National Monument is a free park and is open year-round. The Visitor Center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Visitor services and park activities are limited at this time. The park offers a Visitor Center, free self-guided trails, free seasonal ranger-led canyon hikes, free camping, and many other visitor experiences.
Three (3) self-guided trails are available to use from sunrise to sunset even when the park is closed. Trails can be accessed from the parking lot and begin behind the Visitor Center.
1) Sandal Trail: a 1.3 mile (2.09 km) round-trip paved trail to the Betatakin Cliff Dwelling overlook. The Betatakin Cliff Dwellings can be seen from a 1/4 mile distance so bringing binoculars is recommended. The trail is paved with a 150 feet elevation change. The trail generally takes 30 minutes to walk the entire length depending on the amount of time spent at the overlook. NOTICE: This is the only point in the park where visitors can view the cliff dwelling other than on the guided tours.
2) Aspen Trail: 0.8 miles (1.29 km) steep round-trip nature trail that leads to an overlook of a relict forest on the canyon floor. The elevation change is 350 feet and is strenuous for non-hikers. The trail generally takes 30-45 minutes depending on the amount of time spent at the overlook. NOTICE: Cliff dwellings can not be seen from here.
3) Canyon View Trail: 0.8 miles (1.29 km) round-trip canyon rim trail that leads to the park’s historic ranger station and provides views of the canyon. The trail is flat and is not paved. The trail generally takes 15-20 minutes to walk the entire length. Notice: Cliff dwellings can not be seen from here.
*Please note that all visitors must be accompanied by NPS staff when visiting Betatakin and Keet Seel for visitor safety reasons and to protect irreplaceable archaeological and cultural resources. The park does not allow unsupervised visits to both Betatakin and Keet Seel. Visitors may visit Betatakin and Keet Seel by joining scheduled NPS guided hikes. NPS guided hikes are not offered at this time due to park closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stop #6: Monument Valley
End your Western Agency Road Trip with the majestic views of Monument Valley. Enriched with beautiful culture and natural rock formations. This is a perfect place to end your trip and if you’re looking for a full guide on Monument Valley, make sure to check a previous article we did highlighting the must-see attractions. As always, we encourage everyone to be a good steward of the land, pack in what you pack out, and always be respectful of local culture.
Last Stop: Explore Navajo Museum & Historic Tuba City Trading Post
The Explore Navajo Museum depicts the journey Navajos take through life. A delightful stop before returning back to “home-base.” As a perfect ending to your road trip, the Explore Navajo Museum will elaborate on the land, language, history, culture, and ceremonial life of the Navajo. The Tuba City Trading Post has been a part of the Southwest landscape since the 1870s, which was following the Long Walk of the Navajo people. This establishment is still a working trading post and offers the same services as it did decades ago. It is said
“Visitors will find authentic Indian arts & crafts, Indian jewelry, pottery, sandpaintings, kachina dolls, rugs, and clothing. The selection and quality merchandise will satisfy not only the serious collector but the casual souvenir hunter and everyone in between.” (www.ExploreNavajo.com)