Snapshot Expeditions

Navajo National Monument


Adventure to Betatakin Ruins, Navajo National Monument, circa 1933
The Rimrock and Cliff Dwellers Trails


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On the Road
Road to Tuba
Navajo National Monument
Wetherill Trading Post
Lee's Ferry


Day Trip ~ Betatakin Ruins

Following a restful night at the Shonto Trading Post as guests of trader Harry Rorick and his wife, Elizabeth, the tourists arranged for a guided trip to ruins at Betatakin in the Navajo National Monument.  Although the Monument had been established in March, 1909, the number of recorded visits to the Monument in 1933 numbered 375 guests.  (From: The National Park Service, Decade Report, ~ go to Park Statistics.)


Muriel described the trip from Shonto Canyon to the ruins with this brief note in her log of trips taken annually: 

"Horseback over Rim Rock trail to summit of Cliff Dwellers trail,  push and pull down and up the trail to Betatakin."  

Clarence White was more prosaic in his description of the adventure to the cliff dwelling:

Excerpt from:
"Trip Memories" by Clarence White
circa 1934


"The greatest day of the trip, we went to Segi [sic] Canyon, an hour by auto, another on horseback, and one on foot.  We approached the rim of the great chasm with its far-flung vista of Marsh Pass; the canyon walls painted in broad sweeps of Nature's brush; its green carpeted floors colored with splashes and ribbons of the yellowing aspens.  Harry Rorick told us that just under our feet, some few hundred of feet only, was Betatekin [sic], "House on a Shelf" ~ the loveliest cliff dwelling in all the southwest.

"Down a rift in the canyon wall, slowly and cautiously, in about an hour we came to the foot of Betatekin [sic], then up the path to the cliff dwelling.  Clean swept by the ages and loving care, its walls fresh as newly laid up; unsoiled except by the clean marks of an old conflagration; part of the rooms fallen and cleared away, some still roofed as of yore; the whole as much a part of the canyon wall as a rose is of its bush ~ and glorifying it.

"The largest room is but 10 by 7 feet, and five feet high; the smallest has a floor space of seven square feet.  At the height of prosperity Betatekin [sic] had about 125 rooms, and housed perhaps 500 people.  The recess in the face of the cliff is 800 feet high and 600 feet across, forming an almost perfect arch.  It has been established by tree growth rings in the roof beams that Betatekin [sic] flourished from 1260 to 1277."

After making the trip to the ruins, the tourists departed Shonto and headed up toward Navajo Mountain and a brief visit to the Inscription House Trading Post, operated at the time by S.I. and Susie Richardson.

A good account of the Navajo National Monument history is available on-line:

Navajo National Monument:
A Place and Its People
Hal K. Rothman, 1991
An Administrative History

For information regarding Navajo National Monument visitor center and campground facilities go to:



View of Tsegi Canyon from the sandstone slabs along the rim.  Black Mesa can be seen along the horizon at right.  Muriel Clock on horseback, circa 1933.

Tsegi Canyon from Navajo National Monument, circa 2001.

Clarence White and guide, Harry Rorick on trail leading to the Betatakin Ruins in Tsegi Canyon, circa 1933.

Photograph taken on sandstone rim below the overflow campground, circa 2003.


Pools of rain water fill the sandstone crevices following a summer storm.


McKenzie, circa 2001.


A group shot of the riders preparing for the decent into the canyons.  

This area is located just below the parking lot for hikers making the trip to the Keet Seel ruins and the Monument's overflow campground, circa 2003

The cave sheltering Betatakin Ruins, circa 1933.



"Down a rift in the canyon wall, slowly and cautiously, in about an hour we came to the foot of Betatekin [sic], then up the path to the cliff dwelling."  Clarence White, Trip Memories, circa 1934. 



Photograph of Betatakin Ruins and cave, circa 1933.





Florence White stands beside the ladder leading to the ruins located along the edge of the cliff dwellings.


Florence White and Muriel Clock, Betatakin Ruins, circa 1933.


Copyright 2001 ~  Terree Duncan ~ All Rights Reserved