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Visiting Tribal Lands

Each of Arizona's 22 Native American Reservations operates under its own unique governmental structure and establishes its own rules for visitors.

Cliff dwelling at Canyon de Chelly
Canyon De Chelly National Monument by Tom Narwid

Visitors should not assume that what applies in one Tribal community is the general rule for all Tribal communities. Please observe all Tribal laws and regulations. For specific information, we recommend that you contact the individual tribe(s) prior to your visit.

Guidelines, dos and don'ts when visiting Tribal lands

  • Taking photos, video and audio recordings, as well as sketching, is a particularly sensitive issue. Permits may be required, and fees and restrictions vary, particularly for professionals. Therefore, it is important to contact each individual Tribe regarding its policies. Do not attempt to engage in any of the above-mentioned activities without prior authorization. Failure to comply with Tribal regulations could result in fines, confiscation of equipment and/or expulsion from Tribal Lands.
  • Dances are sacred ceremonies. Observe them as you would any other religious function by dressing and acting appropriately. Be mindful of where you sit, stand and walk. For example, at certain Hopi dances, men and women sit apart; during pow wows, it may not be appropriate to stand beside a drum; and it is inappropriate to walk across the pow wow arena during a dance. Never pick up any object that is dropped during a ceremony. Please refrain from talking to the ceremonial dancers. Applause after ceremonial dances is considered inappropriate.
  • Some of the Tribal buildings and structures may be several hundred years old and damage easily; do not climb on walls or other structures. Do not disturb or remove animals, plants, rocks or artifacts including pot shards, as Tribal and federal laws prohibit the removal of such items.
  • Use caution when driving, especially at night. Much of the reservation land is open range, and small herds of sheep, goats, cattle and horses move freely along and across roads.
  • Like any community, a reservation is a home to those who live and work there and should be respected as such. Although most reservation communities are open to the public during daylight hours, the homes are private and should be entered only by invitation.

Basic tips for traveling on Tribal lands

Road Conditions

All U.S. highways, state roads and main tribal roads are paved. Secondary roads are usually graded and graveled. However, travel off recognized and numbered roads is strongly discouraged. Inquire locally about road conditions.


Keep your gas tank full, and be sure to check fluid levels. It can be a very long way between service stations.


Be prepared for anything. Winters can produce snow six feet deep. Summer temperatures are often over 100 degrees. Winds may blow with gale force any time of the year. High-profile vehicles may have to find a place out of the wind and stop.

Flash Flooding

After hard rains, normally dry washes often become roaring streams from storms that are miles away. Never attempt to cross a running creek.

Dust Storms

Some areas (usually marked with warning signs) are prone to dust storms. If caught in a dust storm, try to find a place to get off the road.

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