The largest Native American reservation in the US, popularly known as the NAVAJO NATION, covers much of northeastern Arizona and extends into both western New Mexico and Monument Valley in southernmost Utah. Everyone can speak English, but Navajo, a language so complex that it served as a secret code during World War II, is still the lingua franca. The reservation follows its own rules over Daylight Savings; in frontier-style towns like Tuba City, the time varies according to whether you’re in an American or a Navajo district.

When the Americans took over this region from the Mexicans in the mid-nineteenth century, the Navajo – who call themselves Dineh, “The People” – almost lost everything. In 1864, Kit Carson rounded up every Navajo he could find and packed them off to Fort Sumner in desolate eastern New Mexico. A few years later, however, the Navajo were allowed to return. Most of the 300,000-plus Navajo today work as shepherds and farmers on widely scattered smallholdings, though craftspeople also sell their wares from roadside stands and tourist stops.

As you travel in this region, respect its people and places. Though the Ancestral Puebloans are no longer present, many of the relics they left behind are on land that holds spiritual significance to their modern counterparts. Similarly, it is offensive to photograph or intrude upon people’s lives without permission.

On a practical note, don’t expect extensive tourist facilities. Most towns are bureaucratic outposts that only come alive for tribal fairs and rodeos and hold few places to eat and even fewer hotels and motels. For information online, visit discovernavajo.com and explorenavajo.com.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

In 2013 Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy. But now the city is on the rebound: cool start-ups are filling once-neglec…

23 May 2018 • Jacqui Agate local_activity Special feature
A city in motion: why Detroit should be on your radar

A city in motion: why Detroit should be on your radar

Perhaps no city in history has fallen from such heady heights as Detroit. Through the earlier half of the twentieth century, the city bubbled with industry. Det…

22 May 2018 • Jacqui Agate insert_drive_file Article
King of the road: on the Civil Rights Trail through America’s south

King of the road: on the Civil Rights Trail through America’s south

This year marks 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, and also the launch of a new Civil Rights Trail through the USA's south – a r…

04 Apr 2018 • Ella Buchan local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs