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Old 10-01-2008, 12:03 PM   #1
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R 13, ~Shiprock to Lukachukai, then R 12/64 to Chinle

Has anyone traveled across the Navajo reservation on 13 from just outside of Shiprock to Lukachukai and then onto 12 and then 64 into Chinle? How's the road? I know it's narrow; I just need to know if it's paved and what the condition of the pavement is.

For this upcoming trip, we're wanting to do Chaco from Farmington and then head on down to Canyon de Chelly. The 13/12/64 route looks the most interesting, but we don't want to subject the AS to too much shake and bake!


Lynn
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Old 10-01-2008, 12:30 PM   #2
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How's the road? we don't want to subject the AS to too much shake and bake!
We were down there five or six years ago, the roads were not paved in New mexico, Arizona is, but secondary and bumpy. Chaco is to be avoided with the trailer & mo/hos. If you want to do Chaco (& should, it's great!) drop the AS somewhere & drive in.
The gov. has resisted improving the road so as to keep that area from becoming a zoo. You'll enjoy that area, don't forget Monument Valley.
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Old 10-01-2008, 12:31 PM   #3
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I don't recall if it's paved, thus this post is of no value. What I can tell you is I get a flat tire every time I travel on route 666 up there! Just a coincidence?
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Old 10-01-2008, 12:48 PM   #4
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What I can tell you is I get a flat tire every time I travel on route 666 up there! Just a coincidence?
Due to so many strange things on that road (real & imagined), the number was changed a few years ago. It is now 491.
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Old 10-01-2008, 03:06 PM   #5
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We were down there five or six years ago, the roads were not paved in New mexico, Arizona is, but secondary and bumpy. Chaco is to be avoided with the trailer & mo/hos. If you want to do Chaco (& should, it's great!) drop the AS somewhere & drive in.
The gov. has resisted improving the road so as to keep that area from becoming a zoo. You'll enjoy that area, don't forget Monument Valley.
Ah, ok. I guess we'd better go the long way around. We're staying in Farmington to do Chaco. The only other place we're doing that we haven't been to before is the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary down south of Gallup:

Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary - Wolf Rescue, Wolf Dog, Sanctuary

Here's one of them:



Here's a map:




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Old 10-01-2008, 05:33 PM   #6
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. The only other place we're doing that we haven't been to before is the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary down south of Gallup


Lynn

OOOOOH, looks neat! Let us know how you like it and if you think the photo tour fee looks to be worth the $$. I am almost ready to start planing the 2009 Gen Disarrays gone AWOL tour and that place might be a good candidate.
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Old 10-01-2008, 05:53 PM   #7
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We were down there five or six years ago, the roads were not paved in New mexico, Arizona is
Do some checking; my memory was jolted by by my bride of 30 years , who
REMINDED ME we took 13 west, IT was paved, but the road turned sour in
Red Valley, Arizona. So, between Lukachukal, over Buffalo Pass, to Red
Valley is the question.
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:51 PM   #8
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My atlas shows rt 33 between 491 and the AZ as a scenic route, but unpaved. The roads on the res can be like a maze with no road or route signs.
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Old 10-01-2008, 07:14 PM   #9
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Off the beaten track too!

If you head out that way please post a report of what you find. I for one would like to know for a future trip. While you are in the Chaco area. Angel Peak has about 7 miles of dirt road but camping on the top is highly recommended. Also the Bisti Badlands on Rt 371 is a unique geologic area that I can recommend.
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Old 10-01-2008, 07:15 PM   #10
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My atlas shows rt 33 between 491 and the AZ as a scenic route, but unpaved. The roads on the res can be like a maze with no road or route signs.
Yep, that's what Mike said, too. I figure we'd best avoid it, durn it.

We are looking forward to Chaco and the wolf sanctuary, though. Canyon de Chelly is just kind of a nice stop-off with decent photography (if I can get myself out of bed early enough).


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Old 10-03-2008, 10:23 PM   #11
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Canyon de Chelly is a great place to visit. You have to have a Navajo guide. There are options. We hired a guide and used our SUV to drive—you need 4wd in the sand. It cost around $80 for one day about 5 or 10 years ago (stop at the visitor center to find a guide—ours was named "Tex" which I suggested was a strange name for a Navajo; we got along very well with him and after a couple of hours he was kidding me and telling me slightly dirty stories when Barb was off looking at something—like jewelry). The motel at the west end of the Canyon (only way in) is, I believe, the Thunderbird. They have tours on something that looks like a landing craft. I think they have an RV campground. On the NE side of the canyon (on top) on 64 is Dine Community College and the main building is supposed to resemble a hogan. Worth seeing, though 10 years ago maintenance was an issue as it always on the res. "Dine" is Navajo for "The People", i.e., Navajo.

There's a paved road from 491 (just north of Newcomb and south of the road at Little Water which goes to Lukachukai). It goes west to Toadlena where there's an old trading post which has a good museum of old and very valuable Navajo weavings. When we were there several years ago, a couple from NJ were managing it after giving up the corporate life. I wonder if they're still there. Going SE from Toadlena is a dirt road going back east to 491 and along the way is the old trading post at Two Grey Hills. That design of weaving is highly valued although they didn't have many there a few years ago.

Lukachukai also has a old trading post and is worth looking around. Lots of unemployment there and lots of alcohol. I recall the road crossing the Chuska Mtns (to the east of there) as winding and may have been gravel. It's been a while.

If you are interested in buying weavings, you can almost always bargain. Some trading posts have price tags 2 or 3 times the actual prices. Ask if there's a "price code" which will allow you to find out the real price. Then try to get it lower. Every place is different. There are places—usually the fancy rug places in Gallup, Santa Fe and some others that will not bargain and have inflated prices. Rug prices have dropped in recent years. When you go to a trading post ask if they have a rug room—that's where the good stuff is. They will often have jewelry and some of it is "pawn". Navajos have for years used trading posts as banks and food stores. They pawn jewelry and rugs and when they can't reclaim them, they go up for sale. It's almost always jewelry and their silver and turquoise can be exquisite. The old posts are disappearing and more and more impersonal supermarkets are showing up.

One of our favorites is Burnham's at Sanders just off and south of I-40 and a bit west of the Arizona/NM state line. Bruce's family have been traders for generations, treat the Navajos fairly and he and his wife, Virginia, are good people. If you're lucky, Bruce will be there and loves to tell stories, but he's pretty busy running auctions. Last time I saw him, a couple of years ago, we talked about our bad knees and Medicare. There are monthly auctions in Crown Point in NM and I think you can find out more on the internet. Hubbell Trading Post has several a year (one tomorrow). There are a couple of trading posts in Farmington on US 64 downtown and several along the way to Shiprock. All are different types of trading posts and have differing quality. These are not the old type of food, pawn and rugs places, but they have a lot of rugs and jewelry and tourist trinkets. There are places along over the res and around it. Watch out for fake rugs—they are too cheap to be real. Ones with thick black tassels at the corners are machine made in India. All Navajo rugs have a tassel at each corner (unless it came off on an old rug), but it's only few threads.

There's a book on trading posts that came out in the '90's, but it's out of print, and may be in the library. We've been all over the res many times and love the art. Once you talk to a Navajo for a while and develop some trust, they are really good people and can be very funny. There's not much in campgrounds on the res. Navajo roads are poorly marked if marked at all and maintenance can be spotty.

If you get to Ganado (south of Chinle and west of Window Rock), the Hubbell Trading Post is a national historic park and well preserved. it's just west of the junction on Ariz. 264. In Window Rock, capital of the Navajo Nation (Dinetah), the government legislative building is also modeled on a hogan and is worth seeing. We had to look around to find someone to let us in. There's also a museum nearby (visible from the highway) worth going through. There are AM and FM stations in Window Rock that broadcast partly in Navajo and although I know about 5 words, I love to listen to it. It is closer to an Asian language than European, but hardly sounds like contemporary Asian languages. It has softer sounds, but the same short syllables. It is very hard for an English speaker to learn.

We are really into the weaving ("rugs") and have read a lot and seen many and bought too many. It's an expensive habit, though less so than an Airstream. It you'd like to know where to buy ones for $50,000 and up, I can tell you where. The poverty is widespread and all the things that go with a culture that a dominant culture tries to destroy have happened there. Nonetheless, the Navajos we've met are well worth knowing. Some of traders have developed a bad attitude about the Navajo, partly because, I suspect, they've never really tried to become part of where they live. That is not easy, of course. There are tribes in northern Canada who speak a similar language and also call themselves Dine. They have the same good personalities and many of them only learned recently they are so closely related.

There is a road map for the res available some places.

Enjoy your trip.

Gene
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Old 10-04-2008, 01:43 AM   #12
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The other half of your trip....

Lynn -

As Gene expounded, there are opportunities too many to list, in getting onto the Navajo territory. For shopping, for discovering, for boondocking, for checking the history, for geocaching, for WHATEVER you are interested in.

Simple, right?

Wrong!

You really need to clarify your trip desires, parameters - whatever it is that you are looking to get out oof your time in the territory. Once you have that more clear, there are UMPTEEN resources to help you achieve that desired list....

I can tell you, that travelling thru the NT (NM & AZ) with 2 kids, a 34' AS, and no real idea or target of what to see or do, left me with a PROFOUND realization that I did not do the area, the territory, or it's people and history justice. I have wished, ever since, that I had invested the time and energy, in a better understanding of the area, the possibilities and certainly the sites and resources that are available.

I did take a ZILLION photos, some that I use as screen savers, some that the kids use as folder covers for school, and at least one that will adorn a Christmas card this season. The Scenery is simply AWESOME. There are really no vistas that aren't jaw dropping. Prepare to be awed....

My bad. I WILL make amends, someday.... Alas, I am now an East Coaster, but my travels will again include the SW as future travel stops.

All the best as you search out your trip!

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Old 10-04-2008, 07:54 AM   #13
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Yes, it is absolutely stunning territory! We've been through nearly all of the area quite a few times; a really super-duper travel guide for the area is Fran Kosik's Native Roads: The Complete Motoring Guide to the Navajo and Hopi Nations. We've got the old edition, very tattered, but there's a new edition out, too.

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Old 10-04-2008, 08:05 AM   #14
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As Axel says, it's good to know about where you are going. Our first of many trips to the res was to discover something about it without a lot of preparation though my wife's father's family has been in NM since at least the 1850's. There's likely to be Indian ancestors and Hispanic too going back much further, maybe thousands of years. Nonetheless, there's always more to learn. Lynn, glad to hear you are familiar with that part of your state and Arirona too. And, Axel, come on back.

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