Blue Canyon is a hidden gem of the American southwest— remote, rugged, mystical, and unknown to most landscape photographers as well as the throngs of tourists visiting the famous Grand Canyon.
Of late this impressive place has received some attention. However, I found it difficult to find all the information at one place while planning our trip to Blue Canyon. So if you are thinking of visiting Blue Canyon Arizona, I have all the details here for you.
Blue Canyon is a remote, uninhabited badlands region in northeast Arizona. It comprises of impressive eroded rock formations with striking white lines. Blue Canyon is part of Moenkopi Wash and is on Hopi lands, which means you need a Hopi guide to explore this region.
Blue Canyon lies between the town of Tuba City and the villages of Hopi Reservations.
The closest town to Blue Canyons is Tuba City which lies 27 miles to its west. Tuba City is a small town with maybe around three to four hotels. However, this little town has all the big fast-food chains like KFC, Subway, Denny’s, … which I found really weird.
We stayed at Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites and loved our stay there.
A hotel by the name Hopi Cultural Center Restaurant & Inn at the Hopi village in Second Mesa is another option if you wish to stay in one of the villages.
Visiting Blue Canyon Arizona
Get a Hopi guide
The legal and respectful way to visit Blue Canyon is with a Hopi guide. You can arrange for a guide at the tribal government center in Kykotsmovi Village, or the Hopi Cultural Center near Shungopavi. The easiest and guaranteed way to get a guide is to book one in advance by clicking here.This link has a list of authorized Hopi guides/tours.
We explored Blue Canyon with the noted Hopi anthropologist Micah Loma’omvaya. Micah shared with us the history of Hopis as well as the geology of Blue Canyon.
Our Blue Canyon tour started from the Hopi Cultural Center in Second Mesa. We met Mica outside the Center on a warm May evening, left our car at the Center’s parking lot, and hopped on to his spacious vehicle. This sunset Blue Canyon tour lasted for about 3-4 hours.
Blue Canyon tour
Blue Canyon is spread-out, and the best way to explore it is to walk around with your guide. There are a slew of features—hoodoos, spires, boulders, mounds, balanced rocks, and various kinds of patterned rock formations. This is indeed a one-of-a-kind place. The most striking and unique feature is the white pattern on the red-brown boulders and mounds. At some places they run crisscross and at other places they form stripes and circles. These patterns seem to be man-made but they are all naturally formed. In fact, these white markings run all the way through the rocks (I have a picture of it above); they are not just superficial lines. It is intriguing and mind-blowing to think of the ways erosion can work and create wonders.
Remember to only ascend places where your guide says is safe and ok to get on. Blue Canyon is made of fragile sandstone and mudstone and has taken millions of years to form. Marvel and enjoy another of Mother Nature’s handiwork.
Our tour ended back at the Second Mesa village, and we called it a day with a satisfying dinner of blue corn fry-bread and beef stew at the Hopi Cultural Center restaurant.
Any more questions about this place? Feel free to ask in the comment section.
(We visited Blue Canyon in May 2018)