The south-facing Betatakin cliff dwellings in the Navajo National Monument.
Luckily for us, our western USA camping tour included a brief stop at a site not mentioned on the original itinerary—the Navajo National Monument.
Named for the people who now occupy the region, the monument protects Betatakin, Keet Seel and Inscription House—three well-preserved collections of dwellings that were built hundreds of years ago by Ancestral Puebloans (sometimes called Anasazi).
About 800 years ago, the land surrounding the national monument was dotted with Ancestral Puebloan farms. Their villages were nearby and they traded in goods such as cotton, turquoise, sea shell and parrot feathers. Rainfall was scarce back then and the Puebloans were eventually forced to move on or relocate to the cliffs.
The Betatakin cliffs and dwellings were what we visited. Well sort of. We hiked the 1.3-mile Sandal Trail that took us to a spot where we overlooked those…
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