By Noah Austin | Photograph by John Burcham
Paul Meehan sums up Shash Diné this way: “It’s like a history book.”
That history is personal for Paul’s wife, Baya, who can trace her lineage in this part of the Navajo Nation back 18 generations. Her grandmother helped raise
10 grandchildren, including Baya, in the property’s hogan — one of the eclectic accommodations on this slice of tribal land off U.S. Route 89.
Paul is a Rhode Islander who was living in Bisbee when he met Baya. They discussed starting a B&B down there, but Baya felt a calling to her family’s land. Five years ago, they began ranching at Shash Diné, where they also live with their two young children. They’re now in their fourth year of hosting overnight guests.
The Meehans share a passion for sustainable living, and that’s reflected in the property’s seven accommodations. As in many Navajo homes, there’s no running water. No electricity. And no distractions from the stunning high-desert views.
The ranch’s centerpiece is the original family hogan, which the Meehans have rehabilitated. They had a Monument Valley family build a second hogan of earth and juniper logs sourced from Utah’s Bears Ears area. Both hold four twin beds and are heated by a wood-burning stove. The couple also built a small cabin, furnished with a stove and a full bed. For warmer times of the year, there are two restored sheepherder wagons, which sleep two people, and two canvas tents (pictured), which accommodate up to four.
When guests arrive, they get an overview of the property’s history and the activities nearby, including Page and Lake Powell, 12 miles to the north, and Horseshoe Bend, just a five-minute drive away. When night falls, guests can cook at an outdoor fire pit or enjoy the unspoiled starry sky. And in the morning, Baya prepares a traditional Navajo breakfast of blue corn porridge, seasonal fruit, ranch coffee and Navajo tea sourced from the property.
Shash Diné has attracted visitors from all over the world, including some from Beijing, who Paul says “burst into tears because they’d never seen a dark sky before.” But in addition to natural wonder and an off-the-grid experience, the Meehans hope guests gain an appreciation for modern Navajo culture.
“We’re human beings just like you,” Baya says. “We’re a strong, resilient people, and we’re still here. People are very touched by that, and they feel our connection to the land. It’s still there.”
Shash Diné is located near Page on the Navajo Nation. For more information, call 928-640-3701 or visit www.shashdine.com.