Welcome to our Hogan – a sacred dwelling to the Navajo people.
Vacation is about escaping the everyday...a break in the mundane. With no alcohol allowed, no electricity, no running water, no cell service or wifi (yikes!), we were truly off the grid, which is necessary sometimes.
Pre-Covid, my friends and I planned an Arizona road trip to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon. I’m a planner at heart, and I google the shit out of a destination before visiting, including searching all of the geotags on Instagram to see what it’s actually like there. Well, I came across an actual Navajo Sheep Ranch that you can stay at and of course after seeing a few photos I instantly booked it.
While it’s essentially glamping, it was much more bare bones and I mean that as a good thing. I’m always looking to experience something authentic to the place, and sleeping on a cot in a Hogan, waking up every few hours to chop wood to keep the fire going was just that. The walk to the outhouse at 3AM was set under a sea of stars — no light, no obstruction, just us.
I know I’ve said Hogan twice already, but what the hell is that? Yes, I’m talking about the small hut which is a traditional dwelling for ceremonies to the Navajo people. Each log is hand carved, and the entire structure doesn’t use any nails. The logs are shaped to perfectly fit together, and it’s as mindblowing as it sounds. Then the dwelling is covered in mud and dirt with the entrance facing toward the rising sun.
Staying on the Navajo Sheep Ranch felt like we were in a different world. We spent the night taking turns keeping the fire alive, because when it went out it got cold. I may or may not have slept with three layers on, including my winter jacket. But on the bright side, it was an easy wakeup for a sunrise hike with just the mountains and the dogs.
Our host brought us homemade Navajo porridge that my friends still talk about. The ranch had horses, dogs, sheep and goats. The morning we left we had to stay on one side of the property because they had a sacrificial ritual with a goat for the medicine lady. Like I said, it felt like a whole different world...
We headed to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend which were less than 20 minutes away, and were so insanely packed with tourists you literally had to fight to get a photo alone in the canyon. Seeing what people will do for the ‘gram really makes you *realize things*. The Navajo Ranch was the highlight of our trip, and since then I’ve dug deeper to find experiences alike instead of a luxe hotel that is essentially a status symbol.
I’m not paid to write about this. If you’re in Arizona or planning a trip, definitely check out Shash Dine. And if not, I hope this inspires you to find and support local experiences wherever you’re visiting. Have you been somewhere like this or have a place you can’t stop talking about? LMK!
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