Coal Mine Canyon is Arizona’s Best Kept Secret
Updated: Oct 2, 2018
While there are plenty of world-famous sights in Arizona, there are several natural wonders that are hidden. Either because they are far off the beaten path or simply because the locals do a good job of keeping them under wraps, there are a few sights that most sightseers simply skip over. Perhaps the most beautiful of these is Coal Mine Canyon.
Nestled on the border of the Hopi and Navajo reservations, the area around Coal Mine Canyon is mostly undeveloped. What has been settled is farmland. For that reason, the only roads around the canyon are dirt, making it a difficult drive but one that is well worth it. Unlike the grandeur of scale presented by locations like the Grand Canyon, the beauty of Coal Mine Canyon comes from the starkly colored rock formations. Situated on the edge of the Painted Desert, seemingly every color of stone imaginable is present.
Not only are the views fantastic, but the hiking offers a spectacular experience as well, although it should be noted that this is not a spot for amateur sightseers. There are no marked trails and so to venture into the canyon, hikers must be very careful and have the necessary tools to ensure they will be able to find their way back. Along the rim of the canyon, however, there are some vague footpaths, particularly between outcroppings that provide incredible views.
While it is certainly out of the way (the nearest town is Tuba City), the views of Coal Mine Canyon are well worth the journey. Particularly at sunset, some of the sights rival any in Arizona. Just make sure you have the proper permits before driving onto Navajo or Hopi land!
For those looking for things to do in Arizona that are a bit more on the beaten path, there are plenty of options, no matter if you are looking around Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson or anything in between. From guided hikes to ATV tours to driving way out into the desert to see the wildlife, Arizona is truly a state filled with fun activities for all ages.