The many locations to photograph in the Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation Tribal Parks
The Navajo Nation Reservation is over 25,000 sq. miles and covers over four states: NM, UT, CO, and AZ. The management of the Navajo Tribal Parks is carried out by the Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation which is one of the oldest programs within the Navajo Nation Government.
The Navajo Parks and Recreation department oversees several Tribal Parks including the Little Colorado River Gorge Navajo Tribal Park, Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Four Corners Monument Navajo Tribal Park, and the Tseyi Heritage Cottonwood Campground- Canyon de Chelly.
The Navajo Nation shares jurisdiction with the U.S. National Park Service within some of the Navajo lands. This makes for an interesting balance of power and decision-making in regard to roads, trails, and permitting.
Best Locations for Fine Art Landscape Photography in the Navajo Nation
The arid desert landscape of the Navajo Nation is the setting for some of the most stunning and picturesque landscape scenes in the United States. Antelope Canyon, located within the Navajo Nation in Arizona, was shaped by millions of years of water and wind erosion.
The canyon was named for the herds of pronghorn antelope that once lived in the area. This is one of the most popular destinations for landscape photographers who love to capture the sun’s light shafts streaming down to the canyon floor. The canyon walls light up with pink, red, orange, and gold colors.
Another iconic landscape in the United States for fine art photography is Monument Valley. It also lies within the Navajo Nation territory. Monument Valley, located on the Utah-Arizona State Line, is considered a sacred area by the Navajos.
The landscape of Monument Valley with its stunning colors and sandstone landforms has played a major role in many movies. John Ford filmed many of his famous westerns in this area. The ionic photographs of the Mittens make for stunning wall art. Although Monument Valley Tribal Park’s lower valley is not open to the public before dawn, you can hire excellent Navajo guides to take you into often photographed areas such as Artist Point, John Ford Point, and the Totem Poles.
With its countless rock formations and scenic drives with breathtaking vantage points, Monument Valley is a great place to capture fine art photographs.
Another beautiful area to visit and take photos of is the Canyon de Chelly National Monument which is an area of rock formations and archaeological sites. Canyon de Chelly is located in northeastern Arizona, U.S., on the Navajo reservation.
The park is co-managed by the US Parks Service and the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department (NPRD). Lining these canyons are several hundred pre-Columbian cliff dwellings, built at the base of red sandstone cliffs or in caves on the steep canyon walls. For nearly 5,000 years, people have lived in these canyons.
Inside Canyon de Chelly is Spider Rock which is the canyon’s best-known feature. It is a very unusual and striking rock formation. Spider Rock is a sandstone spire that rises more than 700 feet from the floor of the canyon. It is named for Spider-Woman who is a key figure in the Navajo folklore.
The Navajo Parks and Recreation department protects the Little Colorado River Gorge Navajo, Tribal Park. The Little Colorado River Gorge is a scenic entryway into the Grand Canyon. It is known for its stunning red rock formations and clear blue-green waters.
Horseshoe Bend is technically not in the Navajo Nation lands but it is a short drive from Antelope Canyon. If you are in the area, you should take the time to check it out. The 1,450-mile-long Colorado River, which flows across the Colorado Plateau and through Arizona’s Grand Canyon, forms a horseshoe-shaped loop as it travels through the red rock canyon.
The cliffs in the area eroding, and have sheer drop-offs which can make a photographer a little nervous. But it is worth the time and effort to capture a fine art photograph of this unusual formation of rock and river.
The History of the Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation is the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States. They are the second most populous of all Native American peoples in the United States with some 300,000 individuals. The Navajo Nation territory covers over 47,000 square miles and includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
In prehistory times, the Navajo and Apache migrated to the Southwest from Canada. Navajos were originally hunters and gatherers but after settling in the Southwest, they adopted many practices of the nearby Pueblo Indians who were farmers and more sedentary. The Navajos adopted Pueblo artistic elements and crafts such as painted pottery and weaving as well as began creating beautiful silver jewelry.
Today, many Navajo continue to live a traditional lifestyle speaking the Navajo language and practicing their customs. Many Navajo continue to live in the same area as their ancestors on their reservation and government-allotted lands. The challenge is these lands are mostly dry and arid and cannot support crops or livestock to provide a means of support for its residents. Many Navajo have moved away from the reservation lands.
Fine Art Photography of the Navajo Nation Landscape
Without a doubt, some of the most iconic landscape photographs of the United States would include photos of landscape formations found in the Navajo Nation lands. If you wanted to add some stunning fine art photography to your home’s décor, a fine art print from one of these areas would make a great addition to your home. Feel free to view some of my fine art photographs found in the following galleries.