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Coal Mine Canyon

  • A hidden gem on the Navajo Reservation
  • Coal Mine Canyon is beautiful and remote
  • Colorful Coal Mine Canyon


  • This hidden gem is located near the border of the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations.
  • Beautiful scenery and amazing vistas make it well worth the journey.
  • For now, this area is uncrowded and rivals many more popular areas with its sandstone formations and canyons. 

Coal Mine Canyon


On the border between the Hopi and Navajo Indian Reservations in the vast desert of northeast 
Arizona, Coal Mine Canyon is a long way from any famous attraction and is not signposted in any way yet has 
become quite well known because of the amazingly colorful formations that line the upper end of the ravine. The 
canyon is one of many remote, little-visited sites in the Southwest where the main interest comes from the detail 
of the rock - the colors, forms and textures of the eroded sandstone - rather than the large scale appeal of 
such grand places as Zion and Monument Valley; others include Bisti Wilderness, Coyote Buttes and Paria 
Rimrocks. There must be dozens more similar places as yet unpublicized, hidden away in the high desert plains 
of this part of Arizona - Coal Mine Canyon sits at the edge of the 120 mile wide Painted Desert, a sparsely settled 
region without many roads but covered by extensive areas of exposed, weathered rock.
Coal Mine Canyon is first sighted about 15 miles from Tuba City, and the usual viewing area is reached by a half 
mile drive along a dirt track - narrow and bumpy but fine for all vehicles - that leaves highway 264 between 
mileposts 336 and 337. This track leads to a new-looking 2 story residence, but the canyon rim is a little way to 
the right, at the end of a side track that passes an isolated windmill and water tank, ending at a parking area next 
to a rather forlorn picnic spot consisting of a few concrete tables & chairs surrounded by bare red earth within a 
fenced enclosure. The place has quite a lot of litter, but the views to the north are the reason why people visit, as 
ahead the flat land falls away abruptly and steeply, down several hundred feet to the floor of quite a narrow 
canyon 4 miles long, the sides of which are composed of an unbelievable array of intricately eroded spires, 
hoodoos, gullies, fins and cliffs, of every color imaginable. The rocks around the rim are soft and crumbly 
(various thin layers of the Dakota sandstone group), lying on top of thicker bands of the Entrada Formation, 
with red, white, black and gray the main colors. The top strata have wildly contrasting tints in quick succession - 
red then white then orange then black, over a vertical distance of just a few feet. The bright red layers are the 
result of coloration of shale due to partial burning of the underlying coal. The erosional forms are generally similar
 to many other Southwest parks (such as Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Cathedral Gorge and Red Rock Canyon), 
but none of these can match the variety of both color and form on show at Coal Mine Canyon.

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Call 928 679-2303
Come visit us! Coal Mine Canyon, Coal Mine Canyon, AZ - 86045,US

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