We were here on October 23rd, 2016
We're here, so let's get to the very heart of the Canyon de Chelly; and we'll start with the correct pronounciation. Chelly is pronounced as "Shay".
Dottie and I brought our two Granddaughters, Raulin and Kylee, here five years ago; and we were so impressed with the history and raw beauty of this valley, that we had to come back. It is located almost in the geographical center of the Navajo Nation, about 95 miles northwest west of Gallup, NM
Kyle and Robin Harder were with us; all of us having left Page, AZ after visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. They stopped and spent most of the day at Monument Valley; and Miss D and I came on through to Chinlee, where this Canyon de Chelly is located.
That evening Dottie and I drove the south rim of the canyon for several miles and visited several of the overlooks.
How about late afternoon and this spectacular view from the rim.
There is a beautiful RV park maintained by the Navajo Park Service at the foot of the entrance to the Canyon, and Miss Winnie is snugly tucked into the Cottonwoods. Their rates are also very reasonable.
Our Canyon Tour
The canyon is one of the longest continuously inhabited locations in the United States and is known to have been inhabited by the ancients prior to the Anasaze, dating it back to approximately 800 AD. Today there are 40 families who farm and live in the Canyon. In the summer you'll find them in the canyon, and in the winter on top of the ridges, where the sunshine can come through.
Ya' At' ehh! and welcome to Canyon de Chelly.
Mr. Romero was our Dine Guide for today's trip up the Canyon. Dine being the word for Navajo. The Canyon is open, but only to Navajos; and all others must be accompanied by a guide, whether it be a hiking tour or one in a 4 x 4 suburban, which we gladly accepted. Mr. Romero's family has farmed in the Canyon for centuries, and only left when the Navajos were forced on the "Long Walk" in 1866 by the US Cavalry. "The Long Walk" is still very vivid in the minds of the Dine at Canyon de Chelly, as this was the only time in their history where the canyon was vacated; and the 300 mile forced march and the following four years of confinement at Bosque Redondo remains a ghost memory in their minds even a 150 years later.
In the Canyon
Every turn up the valley is spectacular in itself. In fact I took way more photographs than you are interested in viewing. But at each turn there was another sensation....... like these cliff dwellings high up the canyon wall.
Just look at the carving wonders that nature has brought over the years. The three washes feeding Canyon de Chelly are the de Chelly, the del Murto, and the Monument with the headwaters all coming from the Chuska Mountains.
In the bottom of the canyon, the farming was not that impressive as evidenced by these next two photos.
But when looking at a similar farm from the south rim, it is easy to see how the farms view remained hidden. You'll observe the road twisting in behind the cottonwood trees.
We did not venture up the Monument wash, stopped under the cottonwoods for a refresher and took time to view the cliff dwellings.
We had the most interesting conversation with this Navajo Lady, and please note the pin on her left collar.
Yes, she is a Breast Cancer Survivor and was most articulate in telling us of her operation; and then proudly exclaiming that she now has been 'Clean' for 5 years. Look at her smile, and besides that her jewelry strings were delicately made; so of course this is where our other daughters and granddaughters Christmas presents came from.
Kyle and Robin off up the Del Murito Canyon.
The Photo Bug has hit them also. Ah! the lure of these sandstone walls rising some 700' from the canyon floor.
In the canyon Mr. Romero pointed out some petroglyph paintings and some sand cliff sketches. Can you tell the difference?
By the time we discovered this print, I was getting pretty sure of my identification skills; but then found out that the CCC boys in the 1930 carved these foot prints to indicate the path of the trail. See how a little success can go to ones head!
Dottie found another Dine artist who does sand carvings, and now Garrett our Grandson has his present too!
The South Rim Drive.
This is a 30 ~ 45 mile drive along the escarpment with many stops and view points. Too, it is the easy and quick way to visit Canyon de Chelly. One does certainly have to pay attention to the paths and the sheer drop offs. It can be 500' ~ 700' in just one step - straight down.
White Horse trail is the one trail that is open to public hiking, without the services of a Navajo Guide; but be sure you're up to the steep climb and grades, we were not!
But the Views are awesome. Just look at these natural caves in the cliff walls. I called this one Scallop Valley. In the enlarged view the 'scallops' appear to be cast canopies.
Why this old gnarled Juniper, just because I love a tough survivor!
I just had to show this Dine Hogan; as I have related, they are vanishing from the Nation.
This one is located for display at the Visitor's Center.
Doesn't this remind you of the Hogan at Monument Valley? Smaller, but still cedar log construction with a hard packed clay floor and all the comforts of home. The Man's content, and for a WIFI connection he journey's next door to the Visitors Center.