Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
Elevation: 7110- 7267 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Visitor Center
Attractions: Scenic view of Betatakin
The Sandal Trail is located in the Navajo National Monument near Kayenta, Arizona. The trail begins behind the Visitor Center where it follows a paved path over slickrock and several wooden bridges. At the end of the short trail there is an overlook where visitors can peer down into the alcove of the well preserved Betatakin cliff dwelling built by the Anasazi or Ancestral Puebloans back in the 13th century. The trail should be accessible to wheelchairs with some minor assistance in places due to the grade.
To get there from Kayenta drive west on Highway 160 for 19 miles and turn north onto AZ-564 and follow it for another 9.5 miles. If coming from the Tuba City direction drive east on Highway 160 for 52.5 miles to get to the turnoff.
The Sandal trail begins right behind the Visitor Center. At the same point the Canyon View trail branches off on the left while the Sandal trail goes to the right.
The trail is a wide paved path where even the slickrock is paved in order to smooth it out.
Soon after the trail departs from the Visitor Center the more primitive Aspen trail forks off on the left. The Aspen trail descends into the head of Betatakin Canyon where springs provide moisture for a lush growth of aspen and conifer trees.
The Sandal trail is interpretive in nature with signs along the route that point out interesting facts.
The parts of the trail that would otherwise be rough have wooden bridges to smooth the transition.
After a half mile of traveling along the rim the trail comes to an end at an overlook with great views of the Betatakin Cliff Dwelling on the opposite side of the canyon.
A zoom lens comes in handy to get a better view of the well preserved cliff dwelling.
A viewing scope at the overlook provides everyone with the best view in the house.
Betatakin is a Navajo word that means 'house on a ledge' or 'Ledge House'. Looking closely at the alcove one can see the almost terraced ledges that the various rooms are built upon. It is quite remarkable that they were able to secure the building materials so well to the rock that they have remained intact all of these centuries.
There is about 150 feet of elevation gain on the hike back up to the Visitor Center. Spread out over the distance of a half mile the average grade is about 6%. That is a little steep for the trail to be designated as officially wheelchair accessible. There are several benches to rest upon along the trail but on the day we were there nobody seemed to be taking advantage of them. With the aid of the viewing scope the view of the Betatakin Cliff Dwelling is better from the Sandal trail than it is from the canyon's floor although not nearly as romantic. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.