Visiting Hubbell Trading Post

Hubbell Trading Post, constructed as a building in 1883, provided a vital link between the Navajo Nation and the rest of the world when it opened in 1878. John Lorenzo Hubbell supplied the Navajos with items such as flour, sugar, canned goods, and tobacco, during their internment in New Mexico.

GANADO, Ariz. – Hubbell Trading Post has been operating since 1878 in Ganado, Arizona, about a three-hour drive from Page.  In about a month from now, Hubbell Trading Post will be celebrating its 141st anniversary.  


It was established by Congress as a unit of the National Park Service on Aug. 28, 1965, for the purpose of preserving the historic trading post and compound.  The Hubbell family continued to operate the trading post until 1967.  Since then, it has been managed by the Western National Parks Association in much the same way.  


Two seasonal park rangers greeted us (me and my wife) recently.


The main trading post is made of stone mortared together by hand and sells groceries and Native American arts and crafts, jewelry, and Navajo rugs. The trading post still has a wooden floor, that creaks when a person walks on it. An entire room is filled with handmade Navajo rugs of various styles. Just looking at the different rug designs can be dazzling. In an adjacent room, there are more jewelry, kachinas, and other items.  


The site is not merely a store, though. A walk-through in and around the historic compound allows the visitor to step back in time when customers arrived on horseback or by wagons.  


On the day of our visit, a majestic turkey showed off his plumage. In another pen, churro sheep chowed down on some bales of hay. A large barn still has farm equipment from the 19th century.  The bread oven used by Hubbell stands as if ready to receive balls of dough.  


The highlight of the trip is a guided tour of the Hubbell home which is virtually unchanged from when the Hubbell family lived there. Tours are first come-first served and depend on the availability of staff at the visitor center.  Starting at the “mobile jail” cart, we were treated to an excellent informative tour by Ranger Alvis who showed us around the home and an interior patio where apricots were starting to ripen. Saying anything more than we enjoyed the tour would be a spoiler, so be sure to check at the visitor center for tour times.


The visitor center – which was recently remodeled by a team managed by this reporter – and adjacent parking lot and restroom is fully accessible. Inside the visitor center the park service shows the story of native culture, history of the trading post in two rooms. There’s even a child-sized trading post counter where children can play, “Trading Post.” Often, a Navajo rug weaver is working on a rug. A 3D map shows the area round the trading post.


Wandering the grounds reveals a traditional sandstone Hogan, or hooghan in the Navajo language, with an inscription carved above the door, topped by a slab of sandstone extending in front of the door to protect those trying to enter. Visitors are asked to respect the occupants’ privacy. Another Hogan further away from the store is covered by a mud plaster. A small shade structure surrounded by vines protects a sandstone table and wooden plank benches.


Twice a year Hubbell Trading Post holds a Navajo rug auction in Gallup, New Mexico.  The fall rug auction this year will take place Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gallup Community Service Center at 410 Bataan Veterans Street.


A visit to Hubbell Trading Post can last as long as one wants.  It’s a long day trip from Page, but doable. We preferred to combine our visit with a visit to Canyon de Chelly, and Navajo National Monuments, as we did and makes for a fun weekend with the family or a good friend.


Information: www.nps.gov/hutr

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