Coal Mine Canyon Arizona: How to Get There? Map and Directions (2022)

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

To say that the West Coast is a land of wonders may seem cliché. Nature parks such as Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon have now become common knowledge for travelers from all over the world, and are often featured in nature documentaries. But we truly believe that the West Coast is full of secrets, and for this reason, we do not get tired of exploring it in search of new destinations in nature that are not as famous and, as a result, are excluded from classic itineraries, but are still absolutely worth visiting at least once in a lifetime.

Today we want to draw your attention to Coal Mine Canyon, an incredible hidden gem inArizona we’ve been wanting to tell you about for a long time that will blow your mind. The colorful Coal Mine Canyon is not far from the Grand Canyon, but most travelers have never even heard of it. Although it’s quite easy to get to it, it seems that only 200 visitors come eachyear! It’s one of those destinations that you would secretly recommend to a friend of yours who goes there, and that’s why it’s worth talking about it here. We will give you all the info you need to visit this beautiful canyon.


  • What Is It?
  • Do you Need a Permit?
  • How to get to Coal Mine Canyon? Map and Directions
    • Coal Mine Canyon View Point (North)
    • Blue Point (South)
  • Can You Hike On Trails?
  • The Best Time to Go and Where to Stay
  • Photo Gallery

What Is It?

Coal Mine Canyon is one of the most remote canyons in Arizona and its main characteristic is the rainbow of colors painted on the badlands, the pinnacles, the hoodoos, the ravines and the peculiar balanced rocks that emerge from the base of the gorges. The palette includes colors and shades that range from black to blue to gray to white to red to orange to pink. The tall walls, towers and rock formations caused by erosion are impressive and may remind one of the parks in Utah or of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Arizona.

Do you Need a Permit?

Coal Mine Canyon is located halfway between the Navajo Nation (north) and the Hopi Reservation (south). A permit is required to visit the canyon (cost $12 in 2020), available from the Navajo Parks & Recreation Office in Cameron, or online. There are no visitor centers or rest areas in Coal Mine Canton and you need to protect yourself from the heat.

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How to get to Coal Mine Canyon? Map and Directions

The entrances to the Coal Mine Canyon are on State Route 264. The landmark on the route is Tuba City, a town on the road between Page, Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, which makes it a strategically perfect place for an intermediate stop.

  • Coming from Page (north) takes 1 hour and 15 minutes (via US-89 N)
  • Coming from Kayenta (east) it takes 1 hour and 25 minutes (via US-160 W)
  • Coming from Grand Canyon Village (west) takes 1 hour and 45 minutes (via SR-64 E and Desert View Drive)
  • Coming from Flagstaff (south) it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes (via US-89 N).

Since there are no paved roads in the accessible part of Coal Mine Canyon, you may be wondering if you can drive on the canyon roads in your car (or rental car), or if it would be better to use a 4×4. Clearly, an off-road vehicle is ideal, but the road does not present any particular problems for those with cars that are lower to the ground. Obviously, if it has rained in the last few days, then it’s not possible to drive on these roads. If that is the case, you will have to give up visiting Coal Mine Canyon.

Coal Mine Canyon View Point (North)

From Tuba City, drive southeast for 16 miles until you reach a fork on the left after mile marker 337 on SR-264. The road is unpaved and leads to a windmill, which you must use as a point of reference, since there are no other signs. Pass in front of the windmill or – if you find cattle standing in the road like we did – go around the windmill on the road immediately on the right. A few yards later you will find a clearing with a picnic table. Park there and reach the observation points on foot.

Blue Point (South)

It is also possible to access the southern section of the canyon, where you can reach observation points that are even more remote and more beautiful. The area is known as Blue Point. To get there, get back on the SR-264 and continue south for another 3 miles, turning left at a green sign that displays the distances to Hotevilla and Keams Canyon. Here too you will find a dirt road that passes between two ridges.

You can travel on this road for as long as you wish or until you get tired of the scenery. However, there are no signs, and you won’t even find obvious landmarks or picnic areas either. When you see an observation point that strikes you as interesting, leave your car along the road and walk to the edge of the canyon. On the map above you can also see the end of the route. When you reach it, I suggest that you turn around, because there is not much else to see.

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Visit tip

Do you want to know an easy way to find an unforgettable Blue Point viewpoint? After getting off of SR-264, follow the directions that I gave above and turn right here to take the road heading downhill. Follow the main road until you reach this curve to the left where you will turn. Drive for a few more minutes and continue on this road to this point. Leave the car here and look out over the edge of the canyon, where you will find unforgettable views!

Take a look at the map inside the article.The three points that are indicated are the first detour to Blue Point, the second detour to Blue Point and the viewpoint (Blue Point).

Can You Hike On Trails?

Coal Mine Canyon, as I was saying, is not particularly difficult to explore. You can enjoy its beautiful panorama by taking short walks along the canyon ridge. In the case of the Coal Mine Canyon View Point (north), after parking your car you can look directly at the edge. There are no guardrails and no information panels. Everything is wonderfully pristine. You must not try the descent to the bottom of the canyon, because a special permit is required to do that. If you are careful, you can decide to venture along the ravines (fingers) that protrude on the edge of the canyon, allowing you to reach the ridge to enjoy even more exciting views.

As for Blue Point, it’s a different story. As I have already mentioned, you’ll have to follow a dirt road that crosses through the middle of a mesa, passing through of two sections of the canyon. Once you stop the car at the point that I recommended, you can get closer to the ridge to take some pictures or admire the wonderful view. Also in this case, you will not be able to go down into the canyon for the same reason mentioned above.

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The Best Time to Go and Where to Stay

The best time to see Coal Mine Canyon is at dawn, but to get there on time, you’ll need to stay overnight in Tuba City. Here’s a list of hotels in the area.

The town has no tourist attractions, but it’s the closest place to your destination, and it’s also a suitable solution if you’re wondering where to stay between Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. Alternatively, you can consider other towns that are a bit further away and some are more pleasant than Tuba City:

Photo Gallery

Warning: Operating hours can change and closures for extraordinary events can occur, so we strongly suggest to check the venues official websites.

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How do I get to Coal Mine Canyon? ›

The rim of Coal Mine Canyon is in the Navajo Nation and a permit is needed to visit it. The permit can be obtained in Cameron at the Cameron Visitor Center located at the intersection of Highways 89 and 64 (SW corner). The visitor center is open five days a week from 8AM to 5:30 PM during the winter months.

Where is the coal mined in Arizona? ›

Introduction. Arizona produces approximately 12 million tons of coal per year, all of which is extracted from the Black Mesa field in the northeastern part of the state, an area subject to Indian land leases.

Is there water in the Little Colorado River? ›

The Little Colorado River has turquoise-blue waters

A consistent year-round source, the water at Blue Spring tumbles out of the ground at a rate about 50,000 times that of your shower and appears a brilliant turquoise blue due to the calcium carbonate minerals suspended in the water.

Is Tuba City on the reservation? ›

Tuba City is located in Coconino County, Arizona on the southern edge of the Kaibito Plateau. This town is one of the largest communities on the Navajo Reservation but it also has a small Hopi population.

What are the top three products mined in Arizona? ›

Arizona leads in copper production and is a major producer of crude perlite, molybdenum, silver, & zeolites. It also produces bentonite, cement, common clay, construction & industrial sand & gravel, crushed & dimension stone, gypsum, lime, and salt.

How many abandoned mines are in Arizona? ›

The estimate for Arizona is over 200,000 abandoned mine features with an estimated 20,000 being located within the National System of Public Lands (NSPL).

Can you swim in the Little Colorado River Gorge? ›

It is available to swim in and explore, but you have to be a reserved camper only!

Why is the Little Colorado so blue? ›

The source of its milky blue waters

The Little Colorado River gets its blue color from dissolved calcium carbonate in the water. This mineral is found in chalk, antacids, eggshells, dark green vegetables, rocks, and more.

Why is the Grand Canyon water so blue? ›

The river cuts through sandstones, limestones and some dolostones. But the culprit for the beautiful blue is the limestone! Limestone is composed primarily of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and is white in color. As the river breaks down this rock into tiny crystals, these crystals will get mixed up into the water.

What is Tuba City known for? ›

Attractions. The following attractions and infrastructure are located in Tuba City: The Explore Navajo Interactive Museum, opened in 2007, is located next to the historic Tuba City Trading Post. Ancient dinosaur tracks have been found and are preserved about 5 miles (8 km) west of the town.

Is Tuba City a dry town? ›

As Tuba is located within the reservation, it's a dry town, with no alcohol available.

Is Chinle AZ on the reservation? ›

A community located a mile west of the mouth of Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona.

Where is Coal Mine Canyon? ›

Coalmine Canyon lays on the border of the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe. Be aware both Tribes have different rules and regulations regarding the canyon. The Navajo Nation occupies the western portion of the Canyon while the Hopi Tribe occupies the eastern portion.

Why are canaries in mines? ›

An allusion to caged canaries (birds) that miners would carry down into the mine tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide collected in the mine, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners, thus providing a warning to exit the tunnels immediately.

What type of bird was used in coal mines? ›

On this day in 1986, a mining tradition dating back to 1911 ended: the use of canaries in coal mines to detect carbon monoxide and other toxic gases before they hurt humans.

Can birds detect carbon monoxide? ›

Birds are sensitive to carbon monoxide as well as airborne particles of insecticide sprays, hair spray, perfumes, paint fumes, room deodorizers and even bleach or ammonia fumes.

Do they still use birds in mines? ›

Today, animals have been replaced by digital CO detectors that warn miners of danger. Use of canaries in coal mines ended in 1986. However, you may still hear people use the phrase “canary in a coal mine” today. It's an idiom that describes something that may be a warning sign of trouble or danger to come.


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