hopi indian reservation

Day 123 – Arizona Indian Country

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Day 123 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Overall, while the weather was spectacular and my day-glo legs saw the sun for the first time in months, the day of sightseeing was somewhat disappointing to me.  After a pleasant surprise on the Navajo Indian Reservation, I was looking forward to exploring the First, Second, and Third Mesa located in the Hopi Indian Reservation.  We got an early start to the day to allow ample exploring time.

Hubbell Trading Post

Our first stop, and ultimately the most interesting stop of the day, was prior to entering the Hopi Reservation at the Hubbell Trading Post.  Trading posts were encouraged by the U.S. Government in the late 1860s after the establishment of the Navajo Reservation.   The US Government created the reservation after the Navajos’ homes, crops and livestock were destroyed while they were wrongly imprisoned for four years at Bosque Redondo.

Hubbell, who learned the ways and language of the Navajo while clerking at forts and trading posts, purchased William Leonard’s trading post in the 1870s at the age of 23.  He employed Navajos to demonstrate weaving and crafts and created a market for Navajo rugs drawing business from the East.  In addition, he opened his home as a hospital when smallpox swept the reservation.

As the Navajo Nation grew, it engulfed Hubbell’s property.  In 1915, his 160 acres, which includes the trading post, his home, a barn, a chicken coop, a bread oven and a guest hogan, was one of the few private in holdings on the Navajo Reservation.

Hubbell’s Trading Post was declared a National Historic Site in 1965 and continues to promote arts and crafts of the Navajo.  The Hubbell Trading Post is part of the National Geodetic Survey database, which means its position is marked with a high degree of accuracy.  The marker is generally a metal disk and is sometimes called a benchmark.  Another form of geocaching is benchmark hunting…found it!

Hopi Indian Reservation

First Mesa

After wandering around the Hubbell property, Petey and I moved on to the Hopi Indian Reservation.  Here we drove 600 feet up a narrow, paved road to reach a village atop the First Mesa.  The only way to pass through the current village to see a 300 year old village is to take a one hour guided tour for $13 AND PICTURES WERE PROHIBITED!  Just 70 miles to the east I could see any ruins I wanted to for free, view them at my leisure, and take pictures.  Obviously, I opted out.  I’m certain Petey was pleased with my decision too…he didn’t have to wait for me in VANilla.

hopi indian reservation
First Mesa from a distance

Second Mesa

We continued on to Second Mesa of the Hopi Indian Reservation.  Unfortunately the visitor center was closed. I drove around the area, and took in a beautiful view of the desert, sandstone plateaus, and a snow capped mountain all in the same line of sight.

Second Mesa

Hopi Cultural Center

A little further west, we stopped at the Hopi Cultural Center.  The complex included a hotel, a gift shop, a small museum, and a restaurant that prepared traditional Hopi cuisine.  I ordered a lamb and homony, clear broth stew with a side of Indian Fry bread.  I tasted it without adding the salt and green chiles provided…bland; but the condiments added a flavorful kick…YUM!

hopi indian reservation

Third Mesa

I didn’t find anything to note at the Third Mesa on the Hopi Indian Reservation, so I proceeded to Tuba City.  The only other stop suggested in the Reader’s Digest book was Coal Canyon.  According to Reader’s Digest, veins of coal run through the canyon.  The book stated there were no signs and to turn at the windmill.  I saw the canyon from a distance and found the windmill, but the turn would have been across a cattle guard onto a dirt road that ran through land fenced with barbed wire.  I wasn’t quite certain that I wouldn’t be entering private property, so I kept going west watching dirt devils spin across the desert.

Camping in Cameron

Originally, I planned to stay the night in Tuba City, but I arrived fairly early.  I consulted my AAA campground guide, something new I picked up on my last visit home.  After reading the options, I found only two campgrounds in the area. The campground in Cameron sounded better because there were bathrooms (without showers) and hiking trails.  I turned south, registered for a site, and ended up at a campground without a bathroom, no trails, and electrical power which only accommodated larger 30 amp trailers with a different type of outlet, thus I couldn’t even plug in VANilla.  Fun!  I’d rather be in a Wal-Mart parking lot. ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

9 thoughts on “Day 123 – Arizona Indian Country

  1. So interesting Beth. I also love the way you describe the meals you have. It’s fun to read and I can picture you in these places.

  2. The town where all the desert dwellers come for supplies is Quartzsite lcoated at the junction of 95 and I-10, looks like you will miss them (March)
    Principal Economic Activities
    Tourism is the major contributor to Quartzsite’s economy. The retail trade and services sectors benefit from the visitors who reside at the numerous (ore than 70) mobile home parks in the vicinity between October and March. Nine major gem, mineral, and 15 general swap-meeting shows are popular tourist attractions, attracting approximately 1.5 million people annually. http://www.ci.quartzsite.az.us/

  3. Sad you didn’t take the tour of ancient Wolpi atop Hopi First Mesa. It’s a spectacular site, unique in all the world. Well worth any fee for the tour. I have visited the Hopi many times, and always find it a rewarding experience. As far as photos, the Hopi ban photos on their entire reservation, namely because they are a very private People, and their customs and traditions have been distorted and twisted by “other cultures” who have visited. So we should respect their wish for privacy and preservation of their closely-held cultural beliefs.

  4. I am looking for a higher resolution photo of the 2nd Mesa for a project I am working on. I see one image you have on your site. Do you have other images that you would be willing to share if photo credit is given? I could really use some help.

    Irene Haws
    785-249-1913 (cell)

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