Saturday, January 30, 2016

Coal Mine Canyon – A Beautiful Surprise Near Tuba City, Arizona

There are no guardrails so standing back
from the edge is a smart move when
visiting Coal Mine Canyon
It was almost sunset and I peered, cautiously, over the edge of Coal Mine Canyon. This beautiful canyon, unknown to most, is on Navajo Nation land, close to the border of the Hopi Reservation. Like many areas on the reservations, the location is unmarked. 

Many beautiful areas on the reservation where you can photograph such natural beauty or go hiking are found down dirt roads and look as though they would not be open to the public. 

Nearby is an inhabited farmhouse. As the sun set, I heard the dogs barking at coyotes in the distance.

Such is the overlook at Coal Mine Canyon. You need directions to get there. And, if we hadn’t been told that it was open to the public by a Native American man who lived close-by, we would have missed this treasure all together. 
The colors on the canyon walls are vibrant.

I had the joy of gazing over the edge of the sand and stone rim. It was rather scary as there are no guardrails or marked edges. If you go to Coal Mine Canyon you’ll find a magical deep canyon with red mudstone, bleached white rock and coal streaks. At sunset the light can play off the colors in the stone and make for amazing photography. It is a beautiful canyon.

Coal Mine Canyon, Navajo Nation
Visitors need a permit from the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Dept. for camping or hiking. The closest permit location to Coal Mine Canyon is the Cameron Visitor Center in Cameron at U.S. 89 and Arizona 64. This is 50 miles north of Flagstaff. Keep in mind that the Canyon is located on Navajo Nation land and can be closed to visitors at any time. Last time I checked, you could no longer hike down into the canyon.

The formations in the canyon make for great
Getting to Coal Mine Canyon
The road to the canyon rim is very sandy. It is an easy drive in dry weather but might require a four-wheel drive in wet weather. There are no markings or lights along the road, so it is recommended that you drive it during daylight.

Directions:  Take I-17 north to Flagstaff, I-40 east to U.S. 90 north at Exit 201, U.S. 160 east to Tuba City and Arizona 264, the turnoff for Moenkopi. Go southeast on 264, then turn north (left) onto an unmarked dirt road, between mile makers 336 and 337. Another landmark is the large windmill.  If you see an old rodeo grounds on your left, you have gone too far. Once you turn off on the dirt road head toward the windmill and then turn left. The rim will be off on your right.

More Information
Website with Permit Information:
General Information:  928-679-2303 or