Category Archives: Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly

Nice travel piece by Ron Dungan about Canyon de Chelly (“shay”). mjh

Navajos nurture traditions in remote Canyon de Chelly by Ron Dungan, The Arizona Republic

CHINLE – The days grow warm. The nights lose their chill edge. A young man in baggy pants walks the streets of this Navajo Reservation town, slow and cocky, shirttail out, eyes forward. You see this angry look in the big city, but it looks out of place in such a small town. I drive down the road, pull over and stare into a place where the Earth falls away sharply.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is named for one canyon but contains several. The canyons have a history that reaches back centuries, and you can see this history in a glance as you look out over the edge. Anasazi cliff dwellings, Navajo farms, Anglo tourists riding in Jeeps along the creek bottom, all blending in a cultural and historical web.

Stories tie these worlds together. Stories of migrations and corn, bloodshed, promises broken and forgotten, stories written on stone and paper and passed on over generations.

Horseback Riding in the Canyon De Chelly

Riding in the Canyon De Chelly By Elzy Kolb

Horseback camping in the Canyon de Chelly National Monument on the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona offers a real change of pace. Once you’re out on the trail, there’s no electricity, running water, or cell-phone service. There are also no clocks or schedules, unless you bring your own.

What the canyon does have is more than 100 miles of riding trails through glorious red-rock canyons full of Anasazi ruins and petroglyphs, or rock carvings and inscriptions. In a wet year, the canyon’s streams create swimming holes perfect for a refreshing splash, and the desert is abloom with purple tamarisk bushes, yellow and orange prickly-pear cactus flowers and white datura, the blossoms Georgia O’Keeffe often painted.

Sightseeing on horseback provides a unique perspective — a timeless sense of viewing the land the way our ancestors may have seen it. In addition, horses are capable of reaching pristine areas inaccessible by car. You travel far more slowly than you would on wheels, enabling relaxed and quiet contemplation of nature’s beauty. Sitting tall in the saddle, you have a higher vantage point than in a vehicle or on foot, and you also have the added advantage of covering distances in far less time than you would hiking.

Navajo in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

A Navajo Tale: Canyon de Chelly is home to stone-age history By LAURIE KAVENAUGH – Style Editor

The Thunderbird Lodge is the only motel within Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Navajo people own and operate the Thunderbird, its cafeteria and gift shop. The quaint adobe buildings spread out at the mouth of the canyon among cottonwoods planted in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The complex sits just about where the first trading post was established in the 1880s. It was followed by a succession of trading post operators until the government hired a custodian in 1903 to keep an eye on the cliff dwellings down in the canyon.

By the end of the 19th century, tourists were paying to visit the dozens of cliff-house ruins left behind by the Anasazi, a Navajo word for “ancient enemies.” In the 20th century, archaeologists found evidence the canyon was probably a technology center for weaving. Today, the Navajo and the National Park Service work together to maintain the canyon. …

Canyon de Chelly is one of the few Anasazi sites in the Southwest that is still lived in by the Navajo. Although the Navajo arrived fairly late on the scene — sometime in the mid-to-late 1700s — they have had a rough time holding onto what they consider an ancestral home.

Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

The canyon of many spirits by Mary Kirk-Anderson

First occupied by humans thousands of years ago, Canyon de Chelly is one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes in North America…

Canyon de Chelly’s sheer walls, spectacular rock monoliths and fascinating connection with the native communities who have called it home, create a sense of a living place with more than simple geography to recommend it.

De Chelly (pronounced de Shay, from a corruption of tsegi, or rock canyon, the Navajo name for the area) is in Arizona’s north- eastern corner, in the Four Corners region, and lies within the great lands of the Navajo Nation. In 1931 it became a National Monument site and it is unique among National Park Service units in that it remains home to the canyon community and the NPS works in partnership with the Navajo Nation to manage the park resources. It is essentially private land. With the exception of one walking trail, the only way to enter the canyon is with a Navajo guide.

Made up of several gorges, the canyon is one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes in North America, first occupied by the ancestral puebloans about 2000 years ago. Today, the steep walls preserve in remarkable condition easily viewed ancient ruins and rock paintings from as far back as the 12th century, tracing occupation of the canyon by the ancient Anasazi people, the Hopi tribe and latterly the Navajo, who arrived in the 1700s. …

Canyon de Chelly is about 115km north of the I40 Interstate between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona. …

Two excellent rim drives, north and south, offer a series of spectacular overlooks.

Canyon De Chelly National Monument (National Park Service)