Hołdzilei Hiking Strong

Hołdzilei Hiking Strong is a group of experienced backpacking and hiking guides operating under a philosophy that encompasses and celebrates the Navajo holistic view of land and stewardship. They are a Diné, woman-led organization that is 100% Navajo/Native owned and operated. They work to fulfill their mission to be a leading indigenous owned company by providing unique backpacking and hiking adventures — in a sustainable and meaningful way — which align and promote their Diné (meaning “the people” or “the human beings”) teachings.

Three people sitting ono the ground in the forest, with backpacks next to them Image via Hołdzilei Hiking Strong

While Hołdzilei doesn’t have a single, direct translation in the English language, it has several significant meanings in Navajo – most importantly centered around strength. Whether finding strength, having a solid foundation, or simply living, Hołdzilei is both meaningful and powerful.

“Hołdzilei encompasses all of what we represent and who we strive to be, determined, strong, resilient, sacred five fingered beings.”

Meet the founders

Crystal and Bryan, two friends with a passion and love for hiking and backpacking, grew up on the Navajo Nation. Through their time in the outdoors they each experienced the healing power of nature, and developed a newfound love for their surroundings that strengthened their connection to the land. 

The people standing in a doorway, smiling Crystal and Bryan of Hołdzilei Hiking Strong

Wanting to use their passion for the outdoors and hiking, they had their “light bulb” moment where they thought “why not make a business out of something we love?” Since outdoor experiences are limited beyond the Navajo Nation Parks borders, and jobs are hard to come by on the Navajo Nation. Hołdzilei Hiking Strong hopes to provide opportunities for both, by providing adventures to sites found nowhere else, and hiring local Navajo guides. They are hopeful that others can view hiking as more than just a walk, but also as a chance to learn about the land and our connections to it through a different lens and voice. 

A person hanging in a green and orange hammock, with another person standing in the background next to a green tent Image via Hołdzilei Hiking Strong

The Hołdzilei Hiking Strong team looks to foster connections between participants and attendees on their trips and the land, and all living things they encounter. They seek to inspire new appreciation for the beauty and sacredness of the regions they visit at every turn in the trail. In addition to these efforts, they also work hard to educate attendees on stewardship efforts and history of the land through Diné perspectives. 

“Our Navajo homeland is rich with opportunities and we want to show that anyone can make a dream come true and make a difference. Young or old, the simple act of meeting people from all walks of life and creating new experiences that will last a lifetime.” -Crystal

Support their efforts

Hołdzilei yishááł, hołdzilei yiikah—strong living, living strong together.

You can support the Hołdzilei vision today. Interested in signing up for an upcoming trek or adventure? Be sure to visit their website(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) or Trip Advisor(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) to learn more and secure your spot today. 

Coming this Fall 2022, a multi-day backpacking hike from Navajo Mountain, UT to Rainbow Bridge, AZ and more options for day hikes will be available; details will be on the website soon. Additionally, be sure to follow along on their social media channels to view a recap of our recent adventures, learn when new events are launched and read through other ways to support their work. Interested in collaborating with the team? Email [email protected](S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) today!

Three people wearing backpacking gear walking through a forest trail Image via Hołdzilei Hiking Strong