About Navajo, Arizona
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation 5,676 ft (1.754 m); population n⁄a.
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) no DST⁄ PDT (UTC-7).
Navajo is a unincorporated community in Apache County in the Navajo Nation, on Route 66 in the eastern part of Arizona, on Route 66. See a Map of Navajo.
Time passes and old memories fade along Route 66
The Navajo Motel, on Route 66 in Navajo, now it is the Navajo Travel Center
Human beings have been living in Arizona for the last ten thousand years. In more recent times (from 700 to 1150 AD), the Ancestral Puebloans, or Anasazi made the Colorado Plateau their home. They lived in the area comprised by the Little Colorado River and the Rio Puerco to the south, the Rio Grande to the east, the colorado River to the east and southern Utah and Colorado to the north. They were farmers.
But drought and bellicose migrants from the north pushed them to the southeast, into New Mexico, where they became the Pueblo people ca. 1300 AD. Their land was occupied by the Navajo (who called themselves Diné - or "People"), hunter gatherers who later learned farming from the Pueblo people.
The Navajo, like the Apache, were of a Canadian origin, they were Athabaskan who migrated to the southwestern USA.
The Spanish under Francisco Vazques de Coronado reached neighboring Zuñ Pueblo in 1539 and sent a group commanded by García López de Cárdenas westwards. They passed by the spot where Navajo is now located and with the help of Hopi guides, reached the Grand Canyon and became first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.
The Spanish returned in 1597, occupied New Mexico and subdued the Pueblo people, but the Navajo kept them out of their territory. For years they raided the Spanish settlements. The invaders named them "Apachu de Nabajo" (Apache of Nabajo), which later became simply, "Navajo".
Mexico "inherited" Arizona after its independence from Spain in 1821 and lost it to the US after the Mexican American War (1846-48). The American Army sent expeditions to reconnoiter the area in the 1850s.
Fort Defiance was established in Arizona in 1851 by Col. Edwin V. Sumner and was the base used to subdue the Navajo.
The springs that give Navajo its name were known to natives and used by the different expeditions that explored the area in the 1850s
Lieutenant Amiel Weeks Whipple's 1853 expedition that surveyed the 35th parallel from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Los Angeles, California, along the 35th parallel north. Described the spot as follows: "Navajo spring, a fine pool of water which breaks out at the surface of a valley".
The expedition led by Lt. Edward Fitzgerald "Ned" Beale (1822 - 1893) to survey and build a wagon road from New Mexico to California, camped here in September 1857. His party used camels, imported from Tunis as pack animals. Though hardier than mules, the camels scared both horses and mules so the Army decided not to use them any more.
The outbreak of the American Civil war led to a retreat into New Mexico, to Fort Wingate near what is now Grants (on Route 66). The campaign against the Navajo continued from there. Also, at that time, as part of the war against the Confederacy, the Union government decided to split New Mexico and create a new territory: Arizona.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to create the United States Arizona Territory in March 1862. It defined a north-south border with New Mexico along the 107th meridian. This cut off the Confederates' access to California. The Senate passed the bill in Feb. 1863 and it was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on February 24, 1863.
Navajo Springs was the location where, on December 29. 1863, the federal officials formally inaugurated the government in the Arizona Territory. They raised the flag and took oath here. The first territorial Governor, John Noble, took office in Navajo Springs.
The reason they chose this spot was becaues it was well within the Arizona Territory and the different parties that took part of the ceremony could reach it easily.
They had an incentive to do so before the end of 1863 (two days away at the time of the oath): their commissions and salaries would be forfeited if they did not do so by the end of the year.
A member of the party described Navajo Springs as follows: "...there is abundant water, in springs right on the surface, and good grass. We have to bring wood, however, several miles. It is very rare in this country...".
Proclamation To The People Of Arizona.
"I, John N. Goodwin, having been appointed by the President of the United States, and duly qualified, as Governor of the TERRITORY OF ARIZONA, do hereby announce that by virtue of the powers with which I was invested by an act of the Congress of the United States, providing a temporary government for the Territory. I shall this day proceed to organize said government. The provisions of the act, and all laws and enactments established thereby, will be enforced by the proper Territorial officers from and after this date.
A preliminary census will forthwith be taken, and thereafter the Judicial Districts will be formed, and an election of members of the Legislative Assembly, and the other officers provided by the Act be ordered.
I invoke the aid and cooperation of all Citizens of the Territory in my efforts to establish a government whereby the security of life and property will be maintained throughout its limits, and its varied resources be rapidly and successfully developed.
The Seat of Government will, for the present, be at or near Fort Whipple.
Signed at Navajo Springs, Arizona
December 29, 1863"
the Governor: Richard C. McCormick, Secretary of the Territory
The war against the Navajo concluded in 1864 with their defeat. They were marched (the "Long Walk") to internment near Ft. Sumner New Mexico. The tough campaign and the harsh internment conditions led to public outcry and this to a treaty in 1868 which allowed the Navajo to return to their homeland. the Navajo Reservation was created and peace reigned in the region.
Apache County has the most land designated as Indian reservation of any county in the United States (68.34% of its area).
Apache County was established in 1879 and at that time, Navajo Springs was the point where old military route from Albuquerque to Holbrook met the stage mail route, "Star Stage Mail" which ran along the south bank of the Puerco River between Fort Wingate, NM and Fort Whipple (nowadays Prescott) AZ.
The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, which was later acquired by the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Rail Road), built a siding in 1883 3 miles to the north of the historic Navajo Springs, and called it Navajo Springs.
The Name: Navajo
The station was originally named Navajo Springs after the springs (which in turn had been named after the Natives), but later, to make it easier for the telegraph, it was shortened to "Navajo". A trading post (Navajo Springs) opened next to the siding.
The AT&SF forcibly moved Navajo people from its right of way in Navajo Springs and by the 1930s it held all the land. However htis was reversed in the 1980s after a land dispute between Hopi and Navajo, which led many of the latter to relocate in the area in land that was purchased by the Federal government and included in the Navajo Nation.
In 1926 Route 66 was created and it was aligned just to the north of the village. Navajo figures in the 1927 Rand McNally road map, 15 mi. west of Sanders and 23 miles east of Adamana. At that time Route 66 was unpaved (a graded highway). The Arizona State Highway Road Map of 1935 marks it as bieng 13.8 miles from Sanders. Route 66 had been "straightened out", shortened and paved. Adamana was bypased and a new alignment ran to the north of it.
Jack de Veere Rittenhouse mentions the town in his 1946 guidebook of Route 66; he noted that it had a café, a trading post (Marty's Trading Post) with five cabins and gas and groceries. At that time it had 52 residents.
The Mother Road was replaced by I-40 in the 1960s which overlapped the old Route 66's alignment in many places.
Where to Stay
There is lodging on Route 66 in Navajo itself
>> Book your Hotels in neighboring Chambers (7.5 miles east)
Lodging Near Navajo along Route 66
- 40 miles. Motels and Hotels in Holbrook.
- 72 miles. Motels and Hotels in Winslow.
- 107 miles. Motels and Hotels in Twin Arrows.
- 129 miles. Motels and Hotels in Flagstaff.
- 141 miles. Motels and Hotels in Bellemont.
- 163 miles. Motels and Hotels in Williams.
Heading East.... In Arizona
- 7.5 miles. Motels and Hotels in Chambers.
East... In New Mexico
- 57 miles. Motels and Hotels in Gallup.
- 118 miles. Motels and Hotels in Grants.
- 138 miles. Motels and Hotels in Acomita Pueblo.
- 196 miles. Motels and Hotels in Albuquerque
- 231 miles. Motels and Hotels in Moriarty
On the Santa Fe Route 66 segment in New Mexico
- 254 miles. Motels and Hotels in Santa Fe.
>> There are RV campgrounds near Navajo, in Holbrook AZ.
Weather in Navajo
The climate in Navajo is arid and dry. Summers are hot and winters cold. The day-to-night temperature swing is considerable throughout the year due to the low relative humidity; this means that Summer nights are pleasant and cool, but winter nights are quite cold.
The average high temperature during summer (July) is around 95°F (35°C) and the average summer low is approx. 59°F (15°C).
The winter (January) average high is 50°F (10°C); and the average low is 21.9°F which is below freezing (-6.1°C).
The arid area does not receive much rainfall, only 9.5 inches per year (240 mm). Half of it falls during the Summer Monsoon period from July to October (5 in. - 127 mm). There are some 49 days with precipitation every year.
Snowfall is light with about 6.5 in. per year (16.5 cm), which falls between October and April.
There is almost zero tornado risk in Navajo: Apache County has no Tornado watches. The area west of the Rocky Mountains does not experience tornados.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Navajo
To the west are Holbrook, Joseph City, Winslow, Winona and Flagstaff (129 miles).
Map of Navajo and Route66
Map of Navajo and Route 66 in Arizona.
Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: I-40 where it overlaps the old alignment.
See Route 66's alignment in Arizona
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66's alignment in Arizona: Navajo
Route 66 across Arizona
Historic Route 66 has been designated as an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway in Arizona.
Click on the link for a Full description of Route 66 across the state of Arizona.
Below is more information on the Route 66's 1926 alignment that passed through Navajo. The later 1930s alignment passed just to the north of the town.
Navajo, Arizona, its Sights and Attractions
Things to Do and Places to See
Tiny Town in the Navajo Nationy
Navajo a small village located in the Navajo Nation, in Arizona, on Route 66 it is close to the historic Navajo Springs site.
The Navajo Motel
Next to I-40s Exit 325, on the south side of the Interstate there used to be a classic Route 66 motel, the Navajo Motel (See the old postcard above).
Map showing where the location of the now gone Navajo Motel
It was described in the postcard (ca. 1950s) as " NAVAJO MOTEL, CAFE & SERVICE STATION Navajo, Arizona Curio Shop - Post Office On Highway 66-12 Miles east of the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest 20 large luxurious double and single units carpeted wall to wall - tile baths Cooled by Refrigeration."
It was located on Route 66, which later became the South Frontage Road of I-40, so it was not bypassed by traffic. In fact it was in a key location. Nevertheless, it is now gone.
In its place is the Navajo Travel Center.
Navajo Travel Center
I-40 Exit 325. Navajo, AZ
(928) 688-2334. www.ExploreNavajo.com
The Navajo Nation Tribal Council established the Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprise as an enterprise of the Navajo Nation in 1982.
It no owns and operates three properties located in the Navajo Nation: the Quality Inn Navajo Nation, the Quality Inn Navajo Nation Capita and this "Navajo Travel Center".
All three properties are staffed almost exclusively with Navajo people.
You can buy typical Native American crafts, horse hair pottery and Route 66 souvenirs. It has a gas station and a Subway sandwich shop.
The street view of the Navajo Travel Center nowadays
Tours & Itineraries plus outdoor Fun
Nearby Route 66 Towns
The "Navajo Springs"
Located 3.1 miles to the southeast of Navajo.
This is the Map and Directions, to reach the springs.
There is tall grass and during the wet summer period, it may get boggy. Check before visiting the spot.
There is a small monument next to a water tank at the springs, it was erected by the DAR (Daughters of the Revolution). It reads:
"ARIZ TERR GOVERNMENT ORGANIZED HERE DEC. 23, 1863."
Read above about this historic event.
The Alignment of Old Route 66 near Navajo
Navajo is located on the segment from Sanders to Holbrook, described below:
From Sanders west to Holbrook
Leave Sanders and head north along US 191 until reaching Exit 399 of I-40, cross to the north side and head west along US 191 Frontage Rd. (also I-40s Frontage Road). This is a 6.5 mile-long stretch that ends at US 191 just north of Chambers. See this Map from Sanders to Chambers.
The road ends there (in the past it continued west) meaning there is a gap in the old roadbed. So you must drive south towards Chambers along US 191 and at I-40's Exit 333 head west again along I-40 until Exit 330.
At Exit 330 you have two options: a) drive the segment to the north of I-40 to its dead-end, turn back and then b) drive on the south of I-40 through Navajo to Crazy Creek. A total length of 8.5 miles. This is shown in this Map West of Chambers to Crazy Creek.
Along this segment, the road goes by Navajo, and then continues west to Crazy Creek.
At Crazy Creek the old road uses a culvert to pass under I-40 and reach its north side. The road (Pinta Rd.) runs north of I-40, parallel to it, but not close to it. It is a 12.3 mile segment that ends at the Petrified Forest National Park on Park Road. See the Map from Crazy Creek to Petrified Forest NP.
At this point there is a nother gap, you will have to follow Park Rd. south to I-40, and at Exit 311 head west along I-40. You will see the original US 66 on the south side of I-40, and you can reach it if you want to drive along it, at Exit 303. This Map of US 66 from Petrified Forest to Little Lithodendron Wash, it is a 8.1 mile-long segment.
Little Lithodendron Wash Bridge
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
This wooden bridge is 243 ft. long and 23 ft. wide, it spans the Little Lithodendron Wash, also known as Carrizo or Little Carrizo Wash -Carrizo is Spanish for "rush".
Little Lithodendron Wash Bridge on Route 66
Lithodendron combines the Greek words "Lithos" (stone) and "Dendros" (tree), "stone tree" after the neighboring Petrified Forest National Park.
Read more about the historic bridge at our Holbrook page.
After the historic bridge, at Exit 300 you must get on I-40 westbound all the way to Exit 294, at Sun Valley, where you can drive the original alignment along Pima St., this ends right next to Exit 292 in a dead end. You can backtrack a couple of miles and reach I-40 at Exit 294 (See this map) or, take a dirt road that runs south right beside the dead end,and reach the North Frontage Rd. at Exit 292. See the Map from Little Lithodendron Wash to Hopi Travel Plaza.
West of Exit 292, the roadbed of I-40 overlaps the original alignment until Exit 289, here you can leave I-40 and drive into Holbrook along Navajo Blvd. (3.1 miles). This is the Map of Route 66 into Holbrook
National and State Parks
Read about the parks nearby, at Holbrook: Petrified Forest National Park.
The postcard is from the James R. Powell Route 66 Collection at the Lake County Discovery Museum, view it online, under Fair Use.
Will Croft Barnes, Arizona Place Names, University of Arizona Press, 1988.
Historic Route 66 in Arizona All-American Road, National Scenic Byway, www.fhwa.dot.gov.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.