Kayenta, in the northeastern portion of Navajo County, is
approximately 20 miles south of the Utah border on U.S. 163. It is
148 miles north-northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona, and 99 miles west
of Shiprock, New Mexico.
Because of its remoteness, in the early days the Kayenta
region was seldom visited by non-Indians. Although in 1874,
Mormon emigrants moved their wagons through on their route
from Tuba City to Aneth on the San Juan River, the Navajos and
Paiutes of the area were only occasionally disturbed by itinerant
traders and wandering prospectors. In 1910 things changed with
the opening of a trading post at Kayenta. In 1914, the March Pass
School opened its doors. By 1916, another trading post had
opened for business.
Since that time, and especially since the paving of roads
through the area, Kayenta, at an elevation of 5,660 feet, has had
considerably more traffic and has been designated a “growth center”
of the Reservation. Today, its position as a gateway to the
tourist attractions of Monument Valley as well as its midpoint
location on state Highway 160 between Shiprock and Tuba City
have helped establish Kayenta as a major community on the
Navajo Reservation. Navajos refer to Kayenta as Tohdenasshai.
Services and mining comprise the principal economic activities in
Kayenta. Peabody Coal and Black Mesa Pipeline companies are
major employers. Peabody Coal Company owns and operates two
mines in the area, Kayenta mine and Black Mesa Mine, as well as
a central warehouse. As tourism and residents have increased
their demand for services, this sector has grown significantly.
This scenic area has motels, restaurants, gasoline service stations,
convenience stores, curio shops, trading posts, parks and
recreational facilities for tourists' enjoyment.
The Kayenta Shopping Center’s 44,700 square feet of space
is occupied by Bashas' Supermarket, True Value, Videos Plus,
Navajo Check Cashing, the Clinic of Chiropractic, Dineh Optical,
Pizza Edge, Norwest Bank, and the Kayenta Visitor Center.
Twenty-seven miles north of Kayenta is the Navajo Nation’s
most famous attraction, Monument Valley Tribal Park.
Betatakin, Navajo for “houses in rock shelves,” and Keet Seel
Ruins are approximately 20 miles from Kayenta.
The Four Corners area, a junction of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New
Mexico – the only spot in the United States where four states
meet – is less than 80 miles away. Within a 150-mile radius of
the community are a variety of parks and recreational facilities.
Arizona is the home of Grand Canyon National Park with the
Vermillion Cliffs and Paria Canyon. Glen Canyon National
Recreation Area and Lake Powell are the result of the construction
of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. The pre-historic
Indian dwellings of Canyon de Chelly National
Monument, and the monoliths and arches of Monument
Valley, Rainbow Bridge National Monument and the Navajo
Scenic Area are nearby.