Arizona: Canyon de Chelly National Monument

I spent a little time browsing the Canyon de Chelly visitors center and trying to get a sense for what I should spend some time doing. I really only wanted to allot time for one of the rim drives but I didn’t stress out about it too much because in the spectrum of western drives, this isn’t too terribly far from the San Juan Mountains.

I started out driving along the South Rim, pulling over at each overlook to enjoy the view. As much as this fit my MO for the morning, I can’t imagine letting something like this be my only interaction with canyons in the southwest! This really just gets back to my issues with national parks, I love them and understand why they’re run the way they are but I really struggle with the restrictions and the way that they seem to encourage very passive consumption of national treasures. BUT ANYWAY.

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly had been a place I wanted to visit for a long time, after having read a NYT piece about it. It really is gorgeous if occasionally it was sort of uncomfortable to politely turn down seemingly earnest Navajo jewelry and artist vendors in the park; I just don’t really know how to respond to someone trying to sell me a painted pictograph (when this area is characterized by petroglyphs) on a slice of sandstone. I don’t want it or need it but somehow I feel guilty for not buying it because, History. The world is complicated sometimes.

Canyon de Chelly

I decided to hike down to White House Ruins. It’s the only place in the monument where you can hike down to the floor of the canyon without a Navajo guide. Sadly, because Canyon de Chelly is part of the National Park Service, Sprocket had to wait for me in the Jeep.

No Puppy Service

The trail down to the White House Ruins is pretty great. It’s short, gorgeous, and pretty well constructed. There’s stairs carved into the sandstone at the rim and a couple of tunnels not to mention the ruins at the bottom.

Stairs in the trail

White House trail

White House Trail

White house ruins trail

Being on the canyon floor was pretty amazing. I’d really love to see more of the canyon. (Anyone want to go in on a Jeep tour with me?)

White House Ruins

After I got back to the car, we visited one more overlook and I let Sprocket walk out with me. I’m not sure if pets are allowed but I figured the warning sign implied that they were? Sprocket was delighted to get out and walk around on slickrock and no ranger chased us down so it all worked out.

Sprocket at an overlook

3 thoughts on “Arizona: Canyon de Chelly National Monument”

  1. Had to break silence and comment: this brings back memories for me. I taught for 5 years about 30 miles from Canyon De Chelly, and go back for visits periodically. I’ve done the rim drive several times. Sometime I’m going to do the drive up the canyon.

    Second, let me just say how much I enjoy your blog. You are considerably younger than me, and have way more energy than I ever did, but I too love the mountains and hiking with my dog. Mostly nice easy rambles these days, but still. I thoroughly enjoy going vicariously along on your hikes.

  2. Fun to see your pictures. I took a 1-month road trip in college and went through Northern Arizona. Canyon de Chelly looked/sounded cool on the map so I went. My experience there – mostly the people I met but also scenery – was one of the highlights of my trip. That was before I was a dog owner though so I didn’t realize dogs weren’t allowed there.

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