Many Navajo families keep a hogan, an eightsided building of logs and mud, for ceremonies and weddings, but actually live in a conventional home nearby. Tourists who are looking for a bit more out of their vacation than the usual motel with a pool and pizza-to-go are enthralled by the idea of spending the night in a hogan with a dirt floor. They are treated to stories told by a Navajo elder under a canopy of stars and rise in the morning to a breakfast of fry bread and cornmeal mush washed down with campfire coffee. To get closer to a way of life they have only read about in National Geographic, they pay as much as $100 a night, but with extras such as a horseback ride, guided hike, sweat lodge, or rug-weaving demonstration the bill can easily come to $400.
Although the hogan bed and breakfast business is still small, the tribe's Economic Development Division is encouraging more families to give it a try. This low impact and unobtrusive form of tourism requires little initial investment and provides a huge economic boost to this rural area, which has an unemployment rate of 27 percent.