67 miles N of Winslow; 250 miles NE of Phoenix; 100 miles SW of Canyon de Chelly; 140 miles SE of Page/Lake Powell

The Hopi Reservation, often referred to as Hopiland or just Hopi, has at its center a grouping of three mesas upon which the Hopi have been living for centuries. (Their ancestors moved away from other pueblos in the region after the decline of ancient Ancestral Puebloan centers such as Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde.) Completely encircled by the Navajo Nation, this remote region, with its flat-topped mesas and barren landscape, is the center of the universe for the Hopi people.

Here tradition-minded Hopi, whose name means “peaceful people,” follow their ancient customs. They still grow corn and other crops at the foot of their mesas in much the same way as indigenous peoples of the Southwest have for centuries. Many aspects of pueblo culture remain intact, although much of the culture is hidden from visitors’ view. The Hopi perform elaborate religious and social dances throughout the year, but most of these dances aren’t open to outsiders. Some, however, are replicated at festivals outside the mesas, such as the Suvoyuki Hopi Festival, held the first Saturday in August at Homolovi State Park; the Hopi Festival of Arts & Culture, held the weekend before July 4 in Flagstaff; and the Hopi Festival at Heritage Square, held the last weekend of September, also in Flagstaff.

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Lying within view of the San Francisco Peaks to the west, where the rain spirits called the katsina are said to dwell, the mesas are home to two of the oldest continuously inhabited villages in North America—Walpi and Old Oraibi. Although these two communities reflect their historic role, serving as a direct tie to the pueblos of the Ancestral Puebloan culture, most villages on the reservation are scattered collections of modern homes. They’re not destinations unto themselves, although you can also take a guided tour of Walpi village. The main reason for a visit to this area is the chance to buy crafts directly from the Hopi, at numerous crafts shops and studios along Ariz. 264, which sell kachinas, baskets, pottery, and silver jewelry.

Important note: When visiting the Hopi pueblos, remember that you are a guest and your privileges can be revoked at any time. Respect all posted signs at village entrances, and remember that photographing, sketching, and recording are prohibited in the villages and at ceremonies. Also, kivas (ceremonial rooms) and ruins are off-limits. Be aware, too, that alcohol is prohibited on Hopi and Navajo tribal lands.