Ever heard of a hogan? Discover Navajo describes it as, “The Hogan is a sacred dwelling. It is the shelter of the people of the earth, a protection, a home, and a refuge. Because of the harmony in which the hogan is built, the family can be together to endure hardships and grow as part of the harmony between the sacred mountains, under the care of “Mother Earth” and “Father Sky”.
The dirt floor represents Mother Earth and is kept very clean. A single door facing east to welcome the morning rays of the sun, and an opening in the center of the roof that represents the sky and serves as a hole for the stovepipe. In this way, with dirt and the sky as part of the home, the Navajo stays connected to what he holds most dear. A kerosene lamp throws shadows on the log walls where wedding baskets and cradleboards are hung.
Many hogans are used primarily for ceremonial purposes, but some Navajo families have begun to use them as lodging to provide tourists with the real Navajo experience.”
Where you can rent a hogan
There are several companies that you can go through in order to stay in a hogan overnight. Discover Navajo, Mother Earth Hogan, Fir Tree Bed & Breakfast, and there are airbnb options like Nizhoni Hogan, Rose Hogan, and many others! Just do a little search on airbnb and type in “hogan monument valley” and you’ll find several others.
I did a full overnight hogan tour with Simpson’s Trailhandler Tours and it was amazing! They offer different tours including photography tours, rides throughout Monument Valley, and the most exciting one (in my humble opinion) is the overnight hogan tour! To begin, they pick you up in the lobby of The View Hotel and give you a tour of the main park with interesting stories and facts about the area.
After seeing some of the iconic landmarks, they take you to a beautiful picnic area and feed you Navajo tacos! Shortly after dinner, they’ll put on a performance where they will demonstrate some traditional dances along with their music. Once the dancing and singing are finished, your tour guide will drive you to your very own hogan for the evening!
The structure and materials of hogan’s are made out of natural resources such as desert juniper trees, juniper barks (for insulation) and dirt (red desert earth) plastered over the dome-shaped structure made out of juniper logs. It’s cool in the heat of summer and warm in the winter. They will provide sleeping bags & pads but ask that you bring your own pillow. They have primitive toilets nearby and will provide toilet paper. Other than that, you’ll have to bring any other items that you’ll need for a successful camping trip. For example, if you’re like me and enjoy a charged phone, bring a portable charger that you can use overnight as there are no power outlets.
After getting settled in for the night, our awesome tour guide, John, told us the Navajo’s version of ghost stories! One of the highlights of the entire trip if you ask me. Once he was finished, he left us a lamp and camped nearby leaving all of us in the Hogan to rest after a long day.
It had been quite awhile that I’d experienced such a dark, starry sky and it was amazing. In addition to the complete blackness is was SO quiet! I really think it’s a good idea to spend some time in an environment like this because it re-centers you on what’s important in life and makes you feel small (which in my opinion, is really healthy to feel once in a while).
Hogan camping is a unique experience that should be on your bucket list, especially while visiting Monument Valley. Want a Complete 4-Day Itinerary for Monument Valley and the surrounding area (including where to eat and sleep?) Find the guide here!
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