Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly (pronounced də-SHAY) National Monument in NE Arizona wasn’t on my radar when I started the trip but some folks in Kanab convinced me to consider it, and I’m glad I did.  I was headed from the Grand Canyon to Farmington NM via US160, so it was not far out of the way.

I spent most of the day driving through the Navajo Nation so that was interesting.   After passing through Kayenta I noticed some familiar-looking  formations to the north, and sure enough, I was skirting Monument Valley.  Dang, it would have been cool to see more of that.

The ancient dwellings in Canyon de Chelly were built by the Pueblo people but the Navajo moved in about 1600AD after the Puebloans had left.  There are still many Navajo living along the rim and down in the canyon.

The White House is the only site in the canyon that visitors can access on their own.  All other sights are seen from the rim unless you hire a local authorized guide.  Take binoculars!  The South Rim and North Rim roads diverge shortly after the Visitor Center.  North Rim is a 34-mile round trip with 3 overlook areas.  South Rim is a 37-mile round trip with 7 overlook areas (and the White House trail head).


The White House is the remains of a 1000-year-old dwelling and apparently got that name due to some old white plaster on a wall.  The trail is a 3 mile round trip with 600′ elevation change each way.  Much of the upper trail has been carved from the sandstone (relatively recently, I assume) and features a couple tunnels.  After crossing the bridge that is on the verge of washing away you can look back to see The World’s Most Pointless Warning Sign.  The site is a couple hundred yards downstream.


I didn’t see the well-named Sliding House until after I got home and checked the photos.  I took pictures of the whole area so I happened to get it, but it’s not the photo it could have been.


I didn’t see the face in Face Rock even with people trying to point it out.  Maybe you’ll have more luck.


I stopped dead in my tracks the moment I saw the 800′ spires of Spider Rock and could only think “wow”.  I recognized  it immediately, though I don’t think I previously knew its name or location.


Antelope House, Mummy Cave, and Yucca Cave are on the North Rim drive.  There’s another site called Massacre Cave but I wasn’t sure which one it was and I don’t think there are ruins there.  It was where Spanish soldiers slaughtered 115 people in 1805.


I’m very glad I visited this place and if I go back I’ll hire a local guide to get a closer look at this stuff (and more).

As I continued on my journey to Farmington NM for the night I passed near the 4 Corners area and figured I had to get the standard photo of me standing in 4 states.  Upon arrival I learned that it’s a business enterprise operated by the Navajo, it’s is all fenced off, has hours of operation, and I was 15 minutes too late!  Another thing for the “next time” list.

About Michael R

I enjoy hiking, landscaping with native plants, nature photography, dark chocolate, fine dining, good movies, and old jazz.
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