The Hopi Reservation, including its unique Blue Canyon, is a must-see Arizona attraction if you are looking for a unique cultural experience combined with stunning desert scenery. The Hopi Tribe is a sovereign nation located in the northeastern part of the state. The reservation occupies part of Coconino and Navajo counties, encompasses more than 1.5 million acres, and is made up of 12 villages on three mesas. The name Hopi means The Peaceful People” or “Peaceful Little Ones.” And not only the people of this Indian reservation radiate peacefulness, but so does the nature around them. It is a place to relax, detach from your daily worries, and even reevaluate your values. In this post, you will learn how to arrange a visit to the Hopi Indian Reservation with respect to its people and their land.

The first thing you notice when you arrive at Blue Canyon in Hopi Reservation in Arizona that its splendid beauty.
The first thing you notice when you arrive at Blue Canyon in the Hopi Reservation in Arizona is its peaceful beauty.


I will never forget my visit to the Hopi Reservation. It was the summer I spend in Phoenix, Arizona, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment. On my first weekend there, I took a  day trip to beautiful Watson Lake, Arizona, and I felt well. The next weekend I headed to the Hopi Reservation.

Unfortunately, during that trip, in the middle of the Blue Canyon tour, I was hit with my first wave of chemo sickness. I survived the tour thanks to my Hopi guide. I became so weak, he took me to his house and let me sleep there before my trip back to Phoenix.

Afterward, we talked about life in the reservation and his ties with an outside world. He blessed me with the native prayer and gave me a CD with his music. He is a well-established composer but decided not to leave his land for a better life.

A local guide could help you to get a closer look at the Hopi Culture.
A local guide could help you to get a closer look at the Hopi Culture.

Where is the Hopi Reservation Located?

The Hopi Reservation is located in northeastern Arizona, away from any major tourist paths. To reach it, you need to make a special trip. It is a pleasant ride with almost no traffic, but be aware, no gas station, or any major settlements along the way once you leave the highway. Make sure to have enough gas, food, and water.

The Hopi Tribe

The Hopi are considered to be the oldest of the native people within North America. They have a current total population of nearly 14,000. Over the centuries. The Hopi Indians survived as a tribe. To this day, they have managed to retain their culture, language, and religion despite influences from the outside world. 

The Hopi people describe themselves as caretakers of the earth and aim to live as peaceful and humble farmers respectful of the land and its resources.

You need a permit and a local guide to enter Blue Canyon in Hopi Reservation.
You need a permit and a local guide to enter Blue Canyon in the Hopi Reservation.

Tourism in the Hopi Reservation and Blue Canyon, Arizona

Tourism is a source of income for the Hopi tribe, so visitors are encouraged to visit. However, please be respectful of local law, culture, and way of life. I advise you to arrange for your visit before you arrive. You are welcome to stay in the hotel, but you should not be venturing out on your own deeper into the land.

Intensely spiritual and fiercely independent, Hopi people value their privacy, particularly while conducting religious ceremonies throughout the year. Therefore, please respect and abide by each village’s posted rules and regulations regarding visitation.

Shades of white and red in Blue Canyon, Arizona.
Shades of white and red in Blue Canyon, Arizona.

You will be treated with respect in the Hopi Reservation, but do not expect wide smiles or small talk you are used to in other parts of the USA. It is due partially to cultural differences, partially to a painful history, and probably most importantly due to current struggles. Native Americans are facing numerous challenges with no solution on the horizon.

After many visits to various Indian reservations, including my favorite Monument Valley in Navajo Nation, I can tell you that it is heartbreaking to see how people there are torn between preserving their way of life and leaving it all behind in search of a better life.

During the summer, the sun is brutal in the Hopi Reservation, even early in the morning.During the summer, the sun is brutal in the Hopi Reservation, even early in the morning.

How much time do you need to visit the reservation and the Blue Canyon?

You should plan to stay overnight, especially during the summer when days in Arizona are ungodly hot. Arrive in the evening, stay at Hopi Cultural Center Hotel, and next morning take an early tour to see Blue Canyon. There is a lot to explore at the reservation, so stay longer if you have an opportunity.

How to arrange for your visit to the Hopi Reservation and Blue Canyon

The Hopi Reservation is located off the beaten path, so it is better to arrange your visit in advance. You would not want to just show up there and learn that no rooms are available or all tour guides are booked.

Contact The Hopi Cultural Center for availability. I called the hotel and asked for a recommendation for a guide and then worked out the details with him over the phone.

The colorful range of Blue Canyon as seen from a distance.
The colorful range of Blue Canyon as seen from a distance.

Hopi Cultural Center Hotel is open 365 days a year and features 33 spacious rooms and one master suite. Each unit comes with  one or two double beds, a comfortable sleep mattress, dining/work table, coffee maker in each room, basic cable TV, telephone for local calls, and a private bathroom (2 Handicap accessible upon request at time of check-in.)

The hotel is clean but basic. There is a restaurant on the site. The best part is outdoors, especially at night – the dark sky and the silence will make you feel at peace with yourself and the world.

Nature's creation at Hopi Reservation, Arizona.
Nature’s creation at the Hopi Reservation, Arizona.

Touring of the Blue Canyon in the Hopi Reservation

Blue Canyon – Visitation is only possible with a permit and a Hopi guide!

Blue Canyon is the Hopi Reservation’s major attraction. You can reach it by a 15-mile drive on dirt tracks. This remote uninhabited region spans the border between the Navajo and Hopi reservations. It features the incredible array of badlands and eroded rock formations.

Blue Canyon in Arizona is a mecca for photographers.
Blue Canyon is a mecca for photographers.

The region is similar to Goblin Valley in Utah but has the added attraction of color variation. Most formations at Blue Canyon occur in the reddish rocks, at lower elevations. The red is mixed with white from sharp linear boundaries to solid patches of the two colors. The area impresses with the variety of erosive forms, including stout hoodoos, balanced rocks, thin spires, narrow ravines, and tiny arches.

Blue Canyon showing off its mix of red and white.
Blue Canyon showing off its mix of red and white.

As ever, sunset or sunrise are the optimum times to visit natural attractions because the colors are more vibrant, and the shadows add an extra element to the composition. You will need at least two hours to see the easily reached sections fo Blue Canyon, but you can easily spend a whole day there exploring.

You can see the majority of the area by walking on the flat ground at the base of the ridges, but climbing gives an alternative perspective. Be careful, many rocks are very slippery!

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