Keet Seel Trail

Kayenta, Arizona

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This is a backpack to one of the largest and best-preserved cliff houses in Arizona. This trail takes you to one of the largest and most spectacular prehistoric cliff houses in Arizona, the 160-room Keet Seel, tucked under a huge overhang in a remote canyon. People of the Anasazi culture lived for more than a thousand years in the Four Corners region, the area where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona join at a common point. Along the trail grow high desert plants typical of the Colorado Plateau country: four-wing saltbush, big sage, virgin’s bower, Mormon tea, rabbitbrush, nakeweed, skunkbush, juniper, and pinyon. You may be lucky and spot a rock squirrel or chipmunklike antelope squirrel, although most of the canyon country’s mammals tend to be nocturnal. Common raven, turkey vulture, scrub jay, canyon wren, rock wren, red-tailed hawk, and other birds may be seen or heard. Keet Seel is a Navajo phrase meaning “broken pottery,” and you may see pottery shards and other artifacts eroding out of the sand along the trail. Admire and photograph them, but please return them to exactly where you found them.

Keet Seel Trail Professional Review and Guide

"This is a backpack to one of the largest and best-preserved cliff houses in Arizona. This trail takes you to one of the largest and most spectacular prehistoric cliff houses in Arizona, the 160-room Keet Seel, tucked under a huge overhang in a remote canyon. People of the Anasazi culture lived for more than a thousand years in the Four Corners region, the area where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona join at a common point.

Along the trail grow high desert plants typical of the Colorado Plateau country: four-wing saltbush, big sage, virgin’s bower, Mormon tea, rabbitbrush, nakeweed, skunkbush, juniper, and pinyon. You may be lucky and spot a rock squirrel or chipmunklike antelope squirrel, although most of the canyon country’s mammals tend to be nocturnal. Common raven, turkey vulture, scrub jay, canyon wren, rock wren, red-tailed hawk, and other birds may be seen or heard. Keet Seel is a Navajo phrase meaning “broken pottery,” and you may see pottery shards and other artifacts eroding out of the sand along the trail. Admire and photograph them, but please return them to exactly where you found them."

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Kayenta
Distance: 14
Elevation Gain: 680 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: Backpack
Season: Usually open between Memorial Day and Labor Day
Trailhead Elevation: 7,000 feet
Top Elevation: 7,000 feet
Local Contacts: Navajo National Monument
Local Maps: USGS Betatakin Ruin, Keet Seel Ruin, Marsh Pass
Driving Directions: Directions to Keet Seel Trail

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May 2018