What you need to know about the new Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument in Arizona

On Tuesday, August 8, 2023 President Joe Biden appeared in Arizona near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to designate a new national monument with Arizona’s governor, senators and congresspersons by his side. Also in attendance were representatives of indigenous tribes who consider land in and around Grand Canyon sacred.

While the name of the new monument, Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue of the average English speaker, it incorporates the heritage of many tribes of ancestral people of the American Southwest.

For brevity, I’ll refer to the new national park entity as Ancestral Footprints National Monument, Ancestral Footprints or AFNM in this post.

Watch on YouTube: Biden announces new Grand Canyon monument

Quick facts about Ancestral Footprints National Monument in Arizona:

  • Fifth National Monument created by President Biden
  • Helps conserve nearly 1 million acres of greater Grand Canyon landscape
  • Much of the land is sacred to tribal nations and indigenous peoples
  • Baaj nwaavjo (BAAHJ – NUH-WAAHV-JOH) means “where Indigenous peoples roam” in the Havasupai language
  • i’tah kukveni (EE-TAH – KOOK-VENNY) means “our ancestral footprints” in the Hopi language.

Questions people are asking:

Where is Ancestral Footprints located?

The monument is made up of three distinct areas to the south, northeast, and northwest of Grand Canyon National Park.

It is bordered by the Kanab watershed boundary and Kanab Creek drainage in the northwestern area and the Havasupai Indian Reservation and Navajo Nation in the southern area, and stretches from Marble Canyon to the edge of the Kaibab Plateau in the northeastern area.

Map of Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni-Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument

View large map | Credit: Stephanie Smith, Grand Canyon Trust

How big is Ancestral Footprints National Monument?

AFNM will conserve nearly 1 million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. The monument spans 917,618 acres of public lands managed by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service.

When will the general public be able to access the national monument?

Much of the federally managed land that makes up the new monument has been accessible to the general public all along. There’s no reason to believe that the land that makes up the monument will become less accessible; however, some areas may be restricted to preserve ancestral and historical sites.

How much does it cost to enter Ancestral Footprints National Monument?

At the current time, no fee structure has been implemented for entry into the monument. It’s likely that admission will remain fee free like most of the other national monuments located in Arizona.

Related: 8 free and amazing places you should add to your Arizona Bucket List right now

Is camping allowed within Ancestral Footprints National Monument?

At the time of this writing, no specific information about camping on the monument land was readily available on federal websites.

However, the Ancestral Footprints National Monument occupies several tracts of federal land that previously allowed camping. There is no reason to believe that camping access will change.

Pro tip: Use campendium.com to find campsites near these locations:

  • Tusayan (southern area)
  • Marble Canyon (northeastern area)
  • Fredonia (northwestern area)

Are fishing and hunting allowed in AFNM?

Yes, the national monument designation protects these sacred places for cultural and spiritual uses, while respecting existing livestock grazing permits and preserving access for hunting and fishing.

Important: Know and abide by these laws and guidelines before you hunt or fish on federal land.

Who did the land belong to before it was designated as a national monument?

The national monument is comprised of federal lands and does not include any state or private lands.

How is a national monument different than a national park?

Generally, a national park contains a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources. A national monument is intended to preserve at least one nationally significant resource. It is usually smaller than a national park and lacks its diversity of attractions. (Source: nps.gov)

The designation of Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument brings to 23 the number of entities managed by the National Parks Service in Arizona.

See all national parks properties in Arizona.

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Additional resources:

Read full press release by USDA

FACT SHEET: President Biden Designates Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument

A Proclamation on Establishment of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni-Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument

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