Keet Seel Cliff Dwelling Tour
Keet Seel is CLOSED and will reopen May 24, 2020 and close for the 2020 season on September 12, 2020.
The park is currently accepting all Keet Seel permit reservations by phone call or in person at the visitor center.
Keet Seel has limit of 20 hikers per day and group sizes are limited to 10 people.
The hike to Keet Seel is a 17 mile roundtrip backcountry hike and is very strenuous. The hike includes steep canyon switchback trails and sand dunes that are difficult to walk through. Crossing the stream is a common occurrence and can't be avoided. Quicksand may be present during the summer monsoon season (July-August).
This hike is not recommended for children under the age of 10 years old and for people who are not avid hikers, are physically disabled, have joint problems pertaining to knees, and/or any other serious health conditions.
Please note that each day is different on what is available for Keet Seel hikes. Reference the schedule below to see what is offered for certain days of the week.
Thursday-Sunday: Overnight trips and day hikes are allowed.
Monday: Day hikes are allowed. No overnight trips can be booked this day.
Tuesday and Wednesday: Keet Seel is closed to all hikes.
Keet Seel requires a 2 or 3 day visit to our park even if you are planning to do a day hike to Keet Seel. A typical multi-day visit due to hiking to Keet Seel includes:
Day 1: ALL hiker(s) must attend a MANDATORY 3PM permit orientation at the visitor center the day before your scheduled hike. NO EXCEPTIONS.
Note: The orientation is at 3pm MDT because it gives an opportunity for the ranger(s) who is/are conducting the orientation time to return from a morning Betatakin hike and have lunch. The ranger(s) leave for the day at 4pm MDT so that is why we do not offer orientations at an earlier or later time in the day besides the 3pm orientation.
The orientation is the day before a hike to Keet Seel because the park prefers that hikers start on the Keet Seel trail as soon as there is sunlight (no night hiking allowed). All hikers should be on the trail by 8am so groups can hike in the cooler part of the day (early morning/afternoon). These regulations are all set with the visitor safety as prioritiy. We no longer offer the 8am permit orientation on the day of the hike because people tend to show up late for it and/or they are still hanging around the visitor center way after the orientation is concluded even though we told them to start on the trail immediately. Again, this is for the visitor's safety because we do not want hikers on the trail during the hottest part of the day and be exposed to the risk of heat stroke or exhaustion. Thank you for your understanding.
We are often asked if it possible to join a morning Betatakin tour the day of a Keet Seel permit orientation. The answer is yes no matter which tour you join (the 8:15am or 10:00am) because both tours arrive back at the visitor center by 3:00pm in time to attend the orientation.
Day 2: Park and secure your vehicle at the Keet Seel Parking Lot. If you are staying at Canyon View Campground, you may hike from your campsite if you would like. Check if you have your permit (it's your tour ticket) and begin hiking to Keet Seel as soon as there is sunlight. It is mandatory for all hiking groups to leave the trailhead by 8am MDT so they are hiking in the cooler part of the day. Hiking time varies from 3-6 hours one way.
Please note: The park absolutely DOES NOT ALLOW hiking at night and the evening hours because if an accident were to occur that requires medical attention, there would be no staff available to assist. There is also the risk of becoming lost while hiking at night. Nocturnal animals such as mountain lions are also active at night.
Hiker(s) will check in with backcountry ranger upon arrival at Keet Seel. Depending on how many people are hiking to Keet Seel that day, the ranger(s) may already be conducting a tour in the alcove. Please note that up to 5 people per group are allowed into the village at a time. Keet Seel tours range from 1-3 hours depending on group interest, if other groups are waiting, and if the the hikers are on a day trip.
Day hikers: After tour conclusion, it is highly recommended to immediately begin hiking back to the visitor center to avoid hiking in the evening (when no staff is available to assist medical emergencies).
Overnight hikers: After tour conclusion, you may set up camp at the designated campground and hang out within fenced areas for duration of the rest of the day. Please note that we do not allow any exploring outside of fenced areas because the canyon is designated as tribal land and would be considered trespassing which you could be fined or imprisoned for if violated and found guilty.
Day 3: Leave Keet Seel as soon as there is daylight. It is not necessary to notify the backcountry ranger since they will be doing a campground check around 9am to make sure all hikers are on the trail hiking out of the canyon. If you are still at the campground by the time the ranger arrives in the morning, you will be told to leave and start hiking on the trail. This is for your safety so that you are hiking during the cooler parts of the day temperature wise.
The park does not allow morning tours of Keet Seel because the ranger has tasks to complete to prepare for the next set of hikers arriving at Keet Seel.
Upon arrival back at the trailhead, you may check in with the visitor center and notify staff of your return but it is not necessary. The Keet Seel Parking Lot is monitored daily at 5pm to check if hikers arrived back from Keet Seel safely.
If you did not see a concern you have about the Keet Seel Hike listed on this webpage, you may call the visitor center during normal business hours.
Please read the Keet Seel Hiking Information (provided below), check the local weather forecast and call the visitor center for any additional information.