Culture, Music, Sport and Festivals

Embrace the Culture: indigenous experiences in the USA and Canada

Shaun Edmond

5th March 2024

Native American Totems and Clan Houses located at Totem Bight State Historic Site

Essential to the cultural fabric of both the USA and Canada, North America’s native cultures give you a window into the continent’s past, and provide an enriching experience for visitors of all backgrounds. To visit a reservation or indigenous-run lodge is to get truly acquainted with the nature of the US and Canada, and to experience millennia-old cultures that are steadily being reborn into the contemporary conscience.

The cultural and ethnic diversity of North America’s indigenous peoples is astounding – some groups led hunter-gatherer lives, others practised agriculture, some established towns with permanent structures and a few established civilisations of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. While there are museums, reservations, historical sites and community-run lodges dotted across the continent, here are five of the best places to get acquainted with them.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Its red rock spires rising out of the ground like natural skyscrapers, Monument Valley is more commonly associated with cowboys thanks to Spaghetti Westerns. Nonetheless, as it lies within the Navajo Nation, a visit here is also a chance to experience how the people of this arid land lived. Tours run by native guides will take you to viewpoints and down trails that are off-limits to vehicles, including on horseback, teach you about their culture and give your tongue a taste of their traditional cuisine and your ears a serenading with local musicians. On your way, be sure to stop at one of the roadside crafts stands, if for no other reason than to admire the craftsmanship and pottery that is integral to the Navajo Nation’s identity. Another good place to appreciate Navajo art is the valley’s only non-camping accommodation, the View Hotel, whose design has it blend in to the surrounding desert cliffs.

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelley
Pronounced “de Shay”, Canyon de Chelly makes for a fascinating detour from Route 66. Located at the bottom is the beguiling White House ruins complex, carved into the walls for shade from the sun. Hike the steep descent yourself (provided you’ve the energy and equipment) or hire a guide to explore the rest of the Canyon floor. Navajo vendors selling flatbread and jewelry are present both at the car park and near the ruins. On your way there, keep your eyes out for a hogan, a traditional roundhouse that acted as a dwelling for the Navajo people.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde NP
Situated just outside the Navajo Nation in Colorado, Mesa Verde’s most prominent attraction is its ancient dwellings. Inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloans, they constructed over 600 houses and citadels beneath the overhanging cliffs, the largest of which could accommodate up to 150 people. Mysteriously abandoned around the year 1300, they were rediscovered 500 years later by a pair of cowboys sheltering from a snowstorm. While the dwellings are impressive enough from atop the canyon ridge, ranger-led tours through their rooms make it worth descending the walls via the ancient trails.


Native Americans in Gallup
A small town lying along Route 66, Gallup’s moniker as the ‘Gateway to Native American Culture’ is well-earned, being situated between the Zuni Pueblo, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation. Once a headquarter for the southern transcontinental rail route, this present-day western town has is a unique destination: it is now a major trading post for more than 70% of the world’s Native American jewelry and art and is considered to be one of the USA’s last surviving trading posts.

Learn about the incredible artisanship that goes into making Native American art or immerse yourself in cultural events at the Gallup Cultural Centre. There are plenty of murals, museums and galleries in Gallup showcasing the region’s native history and art, and the Red Rock Park Museum has hundreds of artifacts on display as well.

Community-run lodges in British Columbia

Community lodge demonstration
With its tranquil fjords and spectacular wildlife, learning about the Pacific Canadian wilderness from its original inhabitants feels like the most natural way of doing so. While Vancouver bustled, British Columbia’s northern coastline remained remote, and this helped to preserve the cultures of the people who have lived here for millennia. To this day lodges run by the area’s various tribes continue to offer authentic wilderness experiences for those interested in digging deeper. Many of the guides and staff grew up in this area and are also adept in preparing traditional First Nations food and tracking down British Columbia’s iconic wildlife. The Klahoose Wilderness Resort and the Spirit Bear Lodge are just two of the best examples.

Explore Journeyscape’s wide range of holidays including indigenous experiences such as our 15-day Native America Country.


Your edit for North America inspiration

Inspired by the landscapes, culture, wildlife and cuisine of Canada and the USA, explore our entertaining range of articles, travel tips, destination guides, recipes and much more.

View Extraordinary Inspiration
Banff National Park in Alberta

Destination Guides

Highlights of Alberta: Best places to visit

Learn more
Okanagan Valley BC

Food and Drink

British Columbia’s Wine Country

Learn more
Portland food cart

Food and Drink

Discover Portland: A guide to the best food carts

Learn more
Kootenay Rockies

Meet Our Team

Real North America Travel Experts

Mallika Jain - Travel Expert

Mallika’s love for North America first began when she attended an American boarding school as a teenager. Her mother’s side of the family lived in the USA, so she enjoyed frequent trips across many states.

Joshua Salter - Travel Expert

Joshua has been travelling to the USA since childhood, visiting his father and four siblings on the west coast. He is fortunate to have travelled to 42 of the 50 US states, and hopes to complete the set by his next big birthday.

Ben Line
Ben Line - Head of Sales

Ben Line is the Head of Sales at Journeyscape and our sister brand Journey Latin America, having lived abroad and travelled extensively over the years.

Dominique Kotsias - Product Manager

Dominique caught the North America travel bug when she was in her late teens and has travelled extensively throughout the USA and Canada, particularly drawn to the countries' outstanding natural beauty and wildlife. With over 10 years of product and marketing experience in North America, Dominique’s passion for the destination is infectious.

Why Journeyscape?

We love north america

  • Up-to-the-minute knowledge underpinned by 40 years experience
  • All of our Travel Experts have personal knowledge of the destination
  • A passion for the region runs through all we do

Travel with Confidence

  • Fully bonded and licensed
  • ATOL-protected
  • Book with confidence, knowing every penny is secure
  • 24 hour help available at every step of your journey

The Real North America

  • Our insider knowledge helps you go beyond the guidebooks
  • We hand-pick hotels both for their character and services
  • We'll give you authentic experiences based on your personal preferences

Journeyscape brought to you from the award-winning experts at Journey Latin America