Lower Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona

Native Tours on Native Land

By: Teresa Bitler

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July 8, 2017

Get firsthand knowledge of Arizona’s tribal lands with an American Indian guide.

About the author

Teresa Bitler

Teresa Bitler

Teresa Bitler is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Sunset and Valley Guide magazines. She is the author of Great Escapes Arizona as well as four Arizona-related iPhone travel apps and is currently working on her second guidebook, Backroads & Byways of Indian Country. She can be reached at www.teresabitler.com.

You can visit many of Arizona’s tribal lands on your own, but with an American Indian tour guide, you can access areas usually off limits and gain cultural and historical insights you’d otherwise miss. Here are seven American Indian tour companies offering one-of-a-kind Arizona experiences.

Canyon de Chelly Beauty Way Jeep Tours

For more than 90 years, the Staley family has escorted visitors – originally by foot or wagon, today by Jeep – into Canyon de Chelly, located in northeastern Arizona. The popular three-hour tour stops at highlights such as Kokopelli Cave, Petroglyph Rock and White House Ruin, but you can customize your experience with a visit with a Navajo weaver and excursions to Spider Rock or Mummy Cave. Hikes and overnight camping trips are also available.

Monument Valley Simpson’s Trailhandler Tours

You’ll see more of Monument Valley’s iconic landscape in northern Arizona – and experience fewer crowds – on a Navajo-led tour. Book with an established company, like Monument Valley Simpson’s Trailhandler Tours, whose guides were all born and raised in the valley. The company offers several Jeep tours, including a 2½-hour tour to 11 of the most photographed stops, as well as customized photography tours and an overnight stay in a traditional hogan.

Team Yellowhorse Outfitters on the Navajo Nation

Increase your chances of a successful trophy hunt with Team Yellowhorse Outfitters. The licensed Navajo guides take you to remote parts of the Navajo Nation to hunt larger-than-usual elk and deer using rifles, muzzle loaders, or bow and arrows. Fully guided hikes include meals, lodging in tents or trailers, field dressing and more.

Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours

You can’t enter Antelope Canyon, east of Page, without a Navajo guide, so if seeing the curvy walls of this spectacular slot canyon are a priority, reserve a spot on a guided tour before you go. Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours offers two options: a guided sightseer’s tour and a photography tour. The first one lasts one hour and includes information on the history and geology of the canyon, while the photography tour, offered daily at 11 a.m. when the light is best, doubles your tour time so you can set up the perfect shot.

Hualapai River Runners

This American Indian-operated tour group sets out on the Colorado River west of Grand Canyon National Park and ends with a helicopter ride to Grand Canyon West, the park operated by the Hualapai Tribe. One-day trips include moderate rapids, a hike to Travertine Cavern Falls and the opportunity to experience the Skywalk over the Grand Canyon (for an additional fee) once you helicopter to the rim.

Hopi Arts Trail

You can pick up a Hopi Arts Trail Passport and map at the Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites in Tuba City – in Northern Arizona – and take a self-guided tour, but for a better understanding of Hopi arts and crafts and an opportunity to interact with the artists themselves, go with a guide instead. You’ll be able to connect with local guides listed on the Hopi Arts Trail website, and tours can be customized to incorporate stops at Old Oraibi, Taawaki Petroglyph and other ancient sites.

San Xavier Co-Op on the Tohono O’odham Nation

A 1,500-acre farm near Mission San Xavier del Bac on the Tohono O’odham Nation in Southern Arizona, San Xavier Co-Op holds regular workshops on harvesting and preparing American Indian foods like cholla buds, mesquite and prickly pear. There has even been a class on raising bees for honey. Most of the attendees are tribal members, but anyone is welcome.

If you’d rather enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labors, you can shop for native beans, spices, canned vegetables and other goods at the co-op store.

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