This riding holiday crosses three distinct portions of the Navajo Indian Reservation. It begins in Canyon de Chelly, whose impossibly high walls are dotted with Anasazi ruins and present-day Navajo dwellings and farms.
You then ride two days among the famed mesas, buttes and natural arches of Monument Valley before moving on to spend the final days in the rarely visited foothills of Navajo Mountain. From this camp one can see hundreds of miles across a labyrinth of sandstone canyons draining into the Colorado River.
This is a trip for people who are willing to forego creature comforts to become immersed in the unique culture and dramatic landscape of Navajoland. Crossing some of the most picturesque tribal lands of the Navajo, with colourful rock formations starkly contrasting with the deep blue sky, this land is also strongly connected to the history and culture of the Navajo People.
This trail is vehicle supported.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from KK of Clonmel. on 18/10/2018
Meet in the lobby of the Red Lion hotel in St George, Utah at 9am. Riders, horses, and gear will be transferred to Canyon de Chelly. The drive is about 6 hours, and there will be a stop for lunch in Kayenta. Spend the first night camped at Navajo Camp at the mouth of the canyon. There will be a chance to drive to Spider Rock overlook to view the canyon from the rim.
After breakfast, saddle up and ride down the Bat Trail into Canyon de Chelly. The trail down is rough and the going is slow, but once in the canyon the trail is smooth and offers wonderful opportunities for trots and canters. Riders will see Spider Rock, many Anasazi ruins and petroglyphs, and Navajo hogans. Camp near the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto.
Continue up Canyon del Muerto, viewing Anasazi ruins and Navajo farms along the route. The "Canyon of the Dead" was named after a massacre of Navajos at the hands of Spanish horsemen in 1804. Follow a switchback trail up and out of Canyon del Muerto. The horses and riders will be transferred across a stretch of the Navajo Reservation to a campsite among the buttes of Monument Valley.
Ride through the buttes and mesas of Little Monument Valley, back to camp in the valley. The sunsets and sunrises in this colourful country are spectacular. There will be an opportunity to stop at the visitor's centre and the rows of stalls selling Navajo Indian jewellery. You can also enjoy a shower at the campground if you wish.
Today you will ride past the popular Totem pole and through deep sand dunes to the true backcountry of the area leading to a maze of canyons. Stop for lunch at some rarely visited ancient ruins. There are good opportunities for long canters across valleys and through drainages today.
Take one last ride in valley, stopping at some of the most popular viewpoints that are seen in the many movies that have been filmed here. Around noon, the horses are loaded into a truck and you all transfer to Navajo Mountain. This graceful Hogan-shaped mountain lies just north of the Arizona/Utah state line is sacred to the Navajo. This is very rough terrain, which is why the Navajo people living here were able to escape capture during the Kit Carson era. There are hogans still standing which were built during this period. The red, pink and white sandstone is a labyrinth of drainages, domes and hidden arches. Camp on the northeast side of Navajo Mountain.
Ride from camp into the maze of canyons draining toward the Colorado River. From several vantage points one can see north for hundreds of miles across the vast Colorado River Plateau into Utah and Colorado. Have a scenic lunch looking down on Lake Powell. Return to the Navajo Mountain Camp for a farewell dinner and final night in this peaceful landscape.
From the campsite, ride a half-day down to a wonderful hidden arch named Hawkeye arch, and enjoy this last ride on the horses in one of the most remote parts of the reservation. Return to camp and transfer back to St George for approx. 7pm.
Please follow this link for a map of the start point of this itinerary: Navajoland Trail
We have an extensive range of Western Riding holidays across the world. Please click on the link below to go to our listings page:
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses on this ride are chosen for their stamina and surefootedness in rough terrain. Although predominantly Quarterhorses, other breeds and crosses will be among the outfitter's remuda. Western-style tack is utilised. Riders are welcome to bring their own saddles. Clients are expected to groom, tack and untack their own horses.
At Canyon de Chelly: Travelling on the Navajo Reservation is sometimes like travelling in a third world country. Permits are arbitrarily granted, modified and rescinded. Mr. Heaton occasionally has problems with this at Canyon de Chelly. If the permit to take his own horses into the Canyon is rescinded at the last minute, then you will be riding horses in Canyon de Chelly rented from the Navajo-owned stables. Mr. Heaton makes every effort to avoid this situation and he covers the additional rental fee if this can’t be avoided.
This ride is moderately paced, riders will spend around six hours a day in the saddle.
The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/210 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
This is a vehicle-supported camping trip. Spring-bar canvas tents are used which comfortably fit two people and their gear. Mattresses and cots are provided to sleep on and you can either bring your own sleeping bag or rent one from the outfitter for $35 for the week. A portable toilet is provided at the campsites. Warm water is available for washing hands and face in the morning and evening. There is an opportunity to transfer to a developed campground for a hot shower one of the nights in Monument Valley.
In general this is a "minimalist camping experience," and appeals to riders who are willing to experience rustic conditions to see this remarkable country. Riders should be prepared to help with chores around camp; set up tents, assist with tacking and untacking one's own horse, and lend a hand wherever assistance is needed.
An assortment of home-cooked meals will be provided while on the trail. The cuisine is hearty and variable, prepared in an outdoor kitchen and over an open fire. Lunch is carried on a packhorse or in individual saddlebags and consists of fresh fruit and sandwiches. The possession or consumption of liquor, and the possession of firearms, is unlawful on the Navajo Reservation. Riders with specific dietary requirements should speak to one of our travel consultants before booking this ride; every effort to accommodate these needs will be made but cannot be guaranteed.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
All travellers are required to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel. For more information, and to apply online please visit the following website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Electronic travel authorities once obtained will be valid for a period of two years, or the validity of the travellers passport (whichever is shorter). There is a $14 charge for this service (2015). Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely to be detained and sent home.
On 5 January 2004, the US Authorities introduced the US-VISIT Programme. This means that all those aged between 14 and 79 travelling to the US are now finger-scanned and digitally photographed on arrival at passport control.
There are British consulates at many locations in the US, please check with the Foreign Office website for your closest one. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0232/0233 or see www.fco.gov.uk
The climate in this part of the southwest is variable and unpredictable. In the autumn, days can be warm or hot, sometimes up to 90 F. At the higher elevations and in the desert where the humidity is very low, evenings cool down considerably, frequently to 30 F. In September, the days are usually clear and warm, with cool to cold nights. However, anything can happen and riders should be prepared for storms and the associated cold winds. Layered clothing is the easiest way to prepare for the erratic temperature fluctuations.
No specific health precautions are required for visits to the USA.
Medical treatment can be very expensive; there are no special arrangements for British visitors. The British Embassy and Consulates-General cannot assist with medical expenses.
Comprehensive travel and medical insurance is essential; at least $1,000,000 cover, which includes hospital treatment and medical evacuation to the UK, would be wise. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake including horse riding.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org
The voltage is 110V in the USA and you will need a flat blade plug and possibly an adaptor depending on the appliance. Check the voltage input required for mobile phone and digital/video cameras before leaving.
Camera with plenty of film.
Jeans or jodhpurs
Chaps or leggings
Riding boots (comfortable for hiking as soon walking on foot may be required)
Long and short sleeved shirts
Bandana or buff to protect your face from the dust
Winter coat and lightweight rain coat
Sneakers or soft shoes
Wide-brimmed hat with tie
Warm sleeping apparel
Hot water bottle
Long Underwear/thermal underwear
Sunscreen & skin lotion
Waist pouch (recommended)
Water bottle/canteen - two 1 litre bottles which can be re-filled at the water tank prior to setting off for the day.
Towel/washcloth, small shampoo
Flashlight and extra batteries
Camera and film
Sleeping bag -(should be rated down to minus 10 degrees F)**
Pillow and case
*Riding helmets are not required, but Unicorn Trails strongly encourages riders to consider wearing one.
**A pillowcase which can be stuffed with a sweater or jacket is a handy substitute for a pillow.
***Sleeping bags may be rented for the week at a cost of $35.00 (2015 rate) with prior arrangement.
Low camp beds are used and foam pads are provided for placement under sleeping bags.
Extra luggage cannot be left at the hotel in St. George. However, the outfitter is able to arrange for a secure place to keep extra luggage while you are on the ride. Please enquire at Unicorn trails.
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 7 days riding available on set dates.
2018: 21 April; 6 October.
Monty Roberts particularly ‘The Horse Whisperer’.
We also recommend Notes From A Big Country by Bill Bryson, Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck and Talking to the Ground by Douglas Preston. This book also has an extensive bibliography.
For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com. Another fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
If you prefer films we suggest you try Lonesome Dove.
The USA has 4 main times zones - Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST) and Pacific Standard Time (PST).
Vermont is on EST, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah are all on MST, California is on PST.
Weights and measures are imperial although weight is always expressed in pounds, not stone. The US gallon is 3.8 litres in contrast to an imperial gallon which is 4.2 litres.
Mobile telephone: In 2015 3G is widely available throughout the US in cities, towns, villages and along main highways with AT&T having the best overall coverage and T-mobile offering better speeds in cities. 4G is beginning to be available in cities. There are still a few rural areas which have no GSM reception but do have the older CDMA telephone networks. To be able to call from these areas we recommend buying a cheap Verizon phone from eg Walmart (from $13) and topping up with credit. Almost all hotels and airports offer free wifi connection.