A long-time home for the Navajo, Canyon de Chelly still houses several Navajo people. Oddly enough, Chelly means “canyon”, so Canyon de Chelly translates to something like Canyon of a canyon. But it’s an odd place, seeing as how the US government operates this land inside the Navajo nation, which itself is inside the US, which I find funny. That might be the case, but everyone working here that we encountered was Navajo, so it seems like, here at least, the US government and the Navajo nation have found a working balance.
Whatever its status, Canyon de Chelly is a wonderful place that caters to every kind of visitor, from the causal to the adventurous. People live here, so like always, check with what the nation allows before doing anything. The paved route forks North and South, with lots of places to stop and admire the canyon. The Southern route has more places to stop and better vistas, like this one.
The Southern road also has the most popular hike, a trail that meanders down into the canyon down to a historic dwelling. You can take a tour jeep, but where’s the satisfaction in being drien there? The hike down is gorgeous and not as steep as it looks, plus it puts you right in the rocks for some really neat geology.
Once you walk down into the canyon, you reach the White House, a very neat dwelling in the rock. Like every other place here, there are also some extremely nice people selling Navajo goods and water. I always get wary of vendors, but Shiz is so good at talking to people that we always end up having some nice conversations with everyone.
If you see our map, you’ll see why we wish we had driven up here before going to the Petrified Forest, but live and learn, right?