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 98 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.
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 results of the construction of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River.
The prehistoric 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.