Our Radar Roundup compiles products and videos from the ‘net in an easy-to-digest format. Read on below for today’s findings…
Founded in 2016 by Jon Yazzie and Nadine Johnson, DziłTa’ah Adventures runs bike and packraft tours from their home base in the town of Kayenta inside the Navajo Nation. While we’ve documented multiple experiences with the nascent outfitter – including Hunt’s Mesa, John’s Canyon, Yellow Dirt routes, and others – getting the business off the ground hasn’t been easy for John and Nadine. Last winter, Josh Weinberg reconnected with Jon, along with a group of photographers including Chris Burkard, Jeremy Bishop, and Murray Smith for an unforgettable tour along one of DziłTa’ah Adventures’ most popular routes to learn about what’s next for their guiding operation…
I first met Janessa (15), Jodessa (13) and Jaron Segay (20) November 2020 in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Wanting to support Dzil Ta’ah Adventures owners, Jon Yazzie and Nadine Johnson, and their Navajo Youth Bikepacking Program, we invited these first three participants on a Four Corners Guides bikerafting course to cap off their season of learning to bikepack.
The kids didn’t talk much, and Jaron busied himself setting up camp for all of them or otherwise prepping their bikes and gear. The girls rode on borrowed bikes until dark night one, and fished for catfish with beef jerky night two. And when we first set out on Lake Powell, the three of them giggled and spun their rafts in circles for the first few miles before settling into a paddling rhythm. Since that trip, I’ve watched the kids blossom into full-fledged competitive mountain bikers. Based on their hard work, ability to take care of their own gear and confidence riding bikes, they’ve been chosen to participate in various bike- or adventure-related programs. I recently chatted with Janessa, Jaron and their mom, Jessica, to talk about how the Youth Bikepacking Program has changed their lives.
Jon Yazzie, co-founder of Dzil Ta’ah Adventures is featured in this stunning piece of videography. Definitely don’t miss this one!
“Jon Yazzie struggled to connect to his cultural identity for some time, leading him to make the wrong life choices and lack a sense of belonging. It wasn’t until he made his way back to the Navajo reservation that he could regain that connection and feel at peace with himself.”
Thanks for sending this one over, Dirty!
Our friends Nadine and John from Dzil Ta’ah Adventures have been receiving a lot of press lately and the latest in the torrent is the Singletracks podcast. Give it a listen to hear the motivations behind Dzil Ta’ah Adventures, and what they’re doing within the Navajo Nation to enable their community to ride bikes.
Check out our Related archives below for the work we’ve done with Dzil Ta’ah Adventures in the past, including this year’s Yellow Dirt Route Reportage.
Our friends Jon and Nadine’s cyclo-tourism company, Dzil Ta’ah Adventures, based in the Navajo Nation town of Kayenta made it to the travel segment of Condé Nast. We’ve done a few stories with Dzil Ta’ah Adventures over the years, so after you check this out, be sure to visit our archives in the Related footer below…
“It’s important for Navajo Nation to be in charge of this story, because more often than not, that story has been told for, not by, Navajo people,” says Navajo Nation member Donovan Hanley, a legislative staff assistant spearheading tourism development for Navajo Nation Council’s Office of the Speaker. “Jon’s push to tell stories on bikes, the push for adventure, responsible tourism, and sustainable tourism—it really aligns with the Navajo way of life.”
Read the full piece at Condé Nast Travel!
In the Navajo Nation town of Kayenta, Arizona, Jon Yazzie runs a guide company called Dzil Ta’ah Adventures. Its intent is to educate visitors on the history of the areas surrounding Kayenta through guided bike trips. This particular route is one he’s been working on for a while which parallels the mighty Comb Ridge before climbing the Sandstone Backbone via an old Mormon dugway, overlooking Kane Valley where the US government drilled into the Earth, uncovering uranium for the Manhattan Project. The result would send waves of radiation through the community for decades to come…
We rolled back into Kayenta from an overnighter with Jon Yazzie from Dzil Ta’ah Adventures and I reminded him that I wanted to shoot his bike. “Yeah! Leave the bags on it. As is…” I said to him. Jon took a few moments to tidy up the straps and make sure the bags were tight and neat before handing it off to me. He loves this bike and so I took it as an honor to photograph it. For me, there’s nothing better than riding with the person whose bike you’re documenting. It feels less transactional and more personal. You get to see how they treat their ride. Are they crashers or thrashers? In doing so, there’s a real connection that’s established. For Jon and I, we’ve spent a few years communicating over email when projects arise. Josh has done an exceptional job documenting Dzil Ta’ah Adventures’ trips in Arizona in the past and this trip was the first time I met Jon in person. It felt like a no-brainer to shoot his titanium Vassago Optimus 29+ tourer, so check it out in detail below.
Recently, the Navajo Nation reinstated a 57-hour weekend lockdown due to the spikes in COVID in several communities. This put a hold on our first official Dzil Ta’ah Adventures youth bikepacking series outing in Nazlini, which was originally slated for September 26th. Once the lockdown is lifted, which we hope will be soon, we will proceed as planned with the Dine Composite participants. With the postponement of our first trip, we felt like this was an opportunity to leverage the extra time and continue to shape our mentorship program and build more of my team’s dexterity with an outing in John’s Canyon, Utah, at the southwestern base of Cedar Mesa.
This is the first installment of what we hope to be a series chronicling our efforts to develop sustainable tourism on the Navajo nation through the establishment of meaningful bikepacking routes and accessible singletrack. In addition, we hope to build a bikepacking community starting with the youth and eventually extending to interested community members. Our first foray in this ongoing project will be a Fall bikepacking series with local Navajo youth NICA riders. This series consists of three trips; the first two being on Navajoland and the last with Four Corners Guides, out of Mancos, CO, to include packrafts.
The first in this series begins in Kayenta on Sept 26th and ends Oct 31st in Lake Powell, Utah. The planning started back in July and continues every chance I can meet up with the participants.
Here is the first of a journal I hope to keep, documenting this event.
Dzil ta’ah Adventures LLC was created to offer sustainable cultural experiences in the backcountry via bikes and bike packing with most of the commercial tour proceeds helping to build a bikepack community on the Navajo Nation. Whether it be creating routes or mentoring native youth.
Our year to launch was spring 2020. The COVID pandemic resulted in all non-essential businesses being shut down including the Navajo Parks and Recreation department. Parks and Rec are the issuing authority for permits.
All photos by Josh Weinberg
The Navajo people are suffering terribly from the coronavirus and Four Corners is looking to raise $2,500 to send funding specifically to our pal Jon Yazzie – our host in our this trip – and his chapter in Kayenta, so that food and water can be purchased and delivered to Navajo elders and others in need.
On the fence about this fundraiser, well, consider these data points:
-62% of Navajos live in poverty
-40% don’t have running water, with many of those unable to even afford containers to hold water. Think about that? How would you feel if you couldn’t wash your hands 10 times per day, as many of us are used to?
-Around 30% live without basic sanitation
-According to the LA Times, there are about 175K residents and only four inpatient hospitals.
-Furthermore, there’s a lack of grocery stores. Where once Navajo elders would drive to bigger cities for shopping, they are now stuck at home.
Thanks for joining me in supporting our friends!