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    Coal Mine Canyon, a pristine wonder in the Arizona Indian reservations

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    Joel Fulleda

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    Say the West Coast is one land of wonders it may now appear a cliché: natural parks such as Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon have now entered the common imagination of travelers from all over the world, and flock to nature documentaries. But we believe that the West Coast is truly a region of the United States full of secrets, and for this reason we never tire of exploring it in search of always new places. naturalistic destinations perhaps less known and necessarily excluded from the classic tourist itineraries, yet absolutely worthy of being visited at least once in a lifetime.

    Today is the turn of Coal Mine Canyon, an incredible hidden Arizona gem that we've been wanting to tell you about for a long time and that will instantly break the door of your travel dreams. The colorful Coal Mine Canyon is located close enough to the Grand Canyon, but most travelers have never even heard of it: while it is fairly easy to reach, it seems that visitors are barely 200 per year! It is one of those destinations that you would secretly recommend to a friend of yours who goes there, and for this reason it is worth talking about it here, giving all the useful information for visiting this splendid canyon.


    • What is this?
    • Do you need a permit?
    • Where it is and how to reach it
      • Coal Mine Canyon View Point (nord)
      • Blue Point (sud)
    • Is it possible to do some walking trails?
    • When to go and where to sleep
    • Photo gallery

    What is this?

    Coal mine is one of the most remote canyon in Arizona and its main feature is the rainbow of colors that fresco the badlands, pinnacles, hoodoos, gullies and curious balanced rocks that stand out from the base of the gorges: the palette includes colors and shades from black to blue to gray to white to red to orange to pink. The vertiginous walls, the towers and the rocky forms caused by erosion are of an impressive variety and may recall the parks of Utah or, to stay in Arizona, the Painted Desert-Petrified Forest.

    Do you need a permit?

    Coal Mine Canyon is located halfway between the territory Navajo (north) e hopi (south). As we have been able to verify personally by calling Cameron's Navajo tourism office, by 2020 you must have a permit to visit the Canyon ($ 12), which can be purchased at Cameron's Navajo Parks & Recreation Office, or online at this address.

    There are no visitor centers or dining areas and you need to protect yourself against hot which in these parts is really hot.

    Where it is and how to reach it

    The entrances to Coal Mine Canyon are located on AZ-264. The reference point is Tuba City, a town on the road between Page, Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, therefore strategically perfect for a possible intermediate stop.

    • coming from Page (north) takes 1.15 hours (via US-89 N)
    • coming from Kayenta (east) takes 1.25 hours (via US-160 W)
    • Coming from Grand Canyon Village (West) takes 1.45 hours (via AZ-64 E and Desert View Drive)
    • Coming from Flagstaff (South) takes 1.30 hours (via US-89 N).

    Seen the visiting area of ​​Coal Mine Canyon it has no asphalted roads, you may wonder if you can walk the streets of the canyon with your rental car, or if you need a 4 × 4 instead. Clearly an off-road vehicle is the ideal vehicle, but the road does not present particular problems for those with lower category cars. Obviously, this is not valid if it rained in the area in the previous days: in that case you will have to give up the Coal Mine Canyon.

    Coal Mine Canyon View Point (nord)

    The mill to keep as a reference point

    From Tuba City you need to drive south-east for 26km, to a fork on the left after milepost 337 of the aforementioned AZ-264. The road is unpaved and leads to a mill, which must be your point of reference, in total absence of other signs or indications. Pass by or - if you find the cattle as happened to us - go around the mill on the road immediately to the right: a few meters later you will find an open space with a picnic table: park and reach the observation points on foot.

    Blue Point (sud)

    There is also access to the southern section of the canyon, from which they can be reached observation points even more remote, but absolutely more beautiful: the area is known as Blue point. If you want to reach it, go back to the AZ-264 and continue south for another 4,8 km, turning left at a green sign with the mileage distances to Hotevilla e Keams Canyon: here too you will find a dirt road which, however, in this case passes between two ridges.

    You will be able to walk this path for a variable number of miles until you get tired of the views. In this case, however, in addition to the total lack of signs, you will not even find obvious landmarks or picnic areas: when you see an observation point that strikes you, leave the car along the road and walk to the edge of the canyon. In the map above you also see indicated the end of the path: when you reach it I advise you to go back because there is not much else to see.

    Visit tip Want a advice to find an unforgettable viewpoint of the Blue Point more easily? After exiting the AZ-264 following the directions I gave above, turn right here and take the downhill road. Follow the main road up to this bend to the left and take it. Drive for a few more minutes following the road up to this point. Leave your car here and look out over the edges of the canyon: you will see views that you will not forget so easily!

    Take a look at the map inside the article: the three points mentioned are indicated as: first detour to Blue Point; second detour to Blue Point; panoramic point (Blue Point).

    Is it possible to do some walking trails?

    The Coal Mine Canyon, as I said, is not particularly difficult to explore itself: you can enjoy its beautiful landscape through short walks on the canyon ridge. In the case of the Coal Mine Canyon View Point (north), after having parked the car you can look directly on the edge: there are no protections, there are no demonstration panels, everything is wonderfully pristine. Never try to try the descent at the bottom of the canyon, because a permit is required and can only be done with a Hopi guide. Paying attention, you can decide to walk by venturing along the gullies (fingers) that most protrude on the edge of the canyon, reaching the ridge to enjoy even more exciting views.

    In the case of Blue point, the speech is a bit different: as mentioned, you will have to go along a dirt road that cuts one in half table, passing between two sections of the canyon. Stop the car at the point we recommended, you can approach the ridge to take some photos or admire the wonderful panorama. Again, you won't be able to descend down the canyon for the same reasons as above.

    When to go and where to sleep

    Coal Mine Canyon gives its best todawn, but to get there in time you will need to stay overnight at Tuba City: here is a list of hotels in the area.

    The town has no tourist interest, but it is the closest place to the destination, and it is also a suitable solution if you are wondering where to sleep between Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. Alternatively, you can also consider other cities a little distant, some even more pleasant:

    • Available hotels in Kayenta
    • Available hotels in Page
    • Available hotels in Flagstaff

    Photo gallery

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