Blue Canyon is on the Hopi Reservation and has become a semi-popular spot to visit for photography. Over the last thirty years several little known areas have become popular to photographers. These areas include Antelope Canyon, the White Pocket, and the Wave among others. It's possible that Blue Canyon is one of the next big things in photography although that is subject for debate. I believe it will become more popular with time.
For a number of years this area (popularized in a famous photo by Michael Fatali named "Happily Ever After") was guarded by photographers as a secret location. At this point though the area isn't much of a secret anymore. Pretty much anyone who wants can figure out where this area is (specifically or at least generally). Unfortunately, despite the fact that some websites give directions to the area, many people only have a vague idea of the general area and end up almost blindly driving around the Hopi Reservation trying to find it. I agree with Laurent Martres in his "Photographing the Southwest" books when he writes that these locations that are secret "always end up being revealed by a kind of collective force that is greater than us individuals." For this reason I have decided to give out information regarding the location of this area, how to get there, and how a permit should be obtained. The Hopi people I suspect would rather people have a solid idea of how to get to this area and how to properly get a permit than to have people blindly driving the reservation trying to find the place and inadvertantly visiting without the proper permissions.
There are two ways to get to Blue Canyon. One way is from the south and another from the north. I have only driven from the north so those are the directions I will give. It is recommended that you have a high clearance vehicle although if the road is in good condition (which is sometimes) a low clearance passenger car should make it.
1. While traveling on highway 160 from Kayenta you will want to turn left near milemarker 344 which is located about 1.1 miles after you pass the Elephant Feet (two large columns of sandstone at the side of the road - you will know them when you see them). GPS coordinates for this intersection are as follows: "36 deg, 19 min, 18.84 sec N" "110 deg, 56 min, 23.46 sec W". After you turn left you will be passing behind the back of a house almost immediately after leaving the road and the dirt road you are on will continue. You must be correct with this intersection since there are a few roads that come off of highway 160 in a few mile area near the Elephants Feet.
2. Reset your odometer to zero after you turn off of highway 160!
3. After travelling about 3.1 miles on this dirt road it will appear to fork into two well used sections. Take the right fork.
4. After you have travelled 5.9 miles the road will fork. Take the right fork.
5. At 9.5 miles you will see a windmill on your right. If you see this windmill then you are where you should be.
6. At 11.7 miles the Blue Canyon cliffs will appear in the distance. You are almost there.
7. At 14.3 miles you will reach Blue Canyon. A spur road that comes off the main road to the left will allow you to drive into the Blue Canyon area. The spur road is at coordinates: "36 deg, 09 min, 43.05 sec N 110 deg, 53 min, 15.6 sec W".
Even if you only intend on staying a few hours you need a permit. A permit can be gotten by contacting the Office of Hopi Lands. Here are specific phone numbers:
Clayton Honyumptewa (Office of Hopi Lands)
928-734-3645 (personal cell)
or more generally:
This information was provided to me while in the Hopi Reservation by workers of the Office of Hopi Lands. They provided me with the proper permit info provided above.
More direction info as well as direction related photos can be found on the following website (check to bottom of the page and translate from German to English):
Interestingly, the person who wrote this page indicated that he got a permit from the Visitor Center in Cameron. This is interesting as I was told that ONLY the Office of Hopi Lands could truly give out permits for Blue Canyon properly. Who knows?