From Wiki: Canyon de Chelly is unique among National Park service units, as it consists entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land which remains in the ownership of the Navajo Nation and is home to the canyon community, while park matters are administered by the National Park Service. Access to the canyon floor is restricted, and visitors are allowed to travel in the canyons only when accompanied by a park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide. The only exception to this rule is the White House Ruin Trail. Most park visitors arrive by automobile and view Canyon de Chelly from the rim, following both North Rim Drive and South Rim Drive. Ancient ruins and geologic structures are visible, but in the distance, from turnoffs on each of these routes. Tours of the canyon floor can be booked at the visitor center and at lodgings in the vicinity of the canyon. We did in fact book a guide for touring the floor of the Canyon. We'll share our journey of the floor in our next blog however.
The rim drives provides some spectacular views of the canyon far below. It truly is a mini-Grand Canyon, but with a lot more utilitarian history of the people who inhabited it.
The Canyon is actually four different canyons and the cluster of these lie almost directly in the middle of the Navajo Nation, who are the current stewards of the canyon, along with the aid and support of the National Park Service. Although the Dineh (The People) of the Navajo are the current stewards, many other tribal people were before them, from Anasazi all the way back to before Christ, perhaps nomadic tribes from Alaska and Asia.
Within the canyon walls there numerous ancient ruins of the cliff dwellers who used the advantage of the mountain walls from the elements and natural threats.
I had to use some long lens to get some of these shots and as a result, they may be a little fuzzy.
It's just amazing how high up on the cliffs these dwellings were located, and how on earth did the people ever get to them. I can only surmise that over the centuries, Mother Nature has eroded or washed away most evidences of egress/ingress to these dwellings.
In any case we had a good time going on the rim drives. Each took about three hours to do, and we did them in two different days, with the third day devoted to the floor tour.
Nancy and Joe at the Spider Rock overlook. Spider (Woman) Rock is a sacred place to the Navajo. It rises up 800 feet above the valley floor.
We were just blown away at the panoramic views at each of the eight overlooks. Most of the overlooks however gave us the creeps as the cliffs are sheer, straight downand they nearly take your breath away. Much of the valley is farmed and used for grazing livestock and sheep. But mostly it is used for commercial touring by the local guides for the many visitors to the National Monument. There numerous Navajo vendors at the overlooks as well as in the valley at the White House Ruins.
The Tunnel Overllok near the begining of the canyon.
Well, it's the end of another great day in our great outdoors in the Southwest. We were hungrey and tired and decided to let someone else do the cooking. So we stepped into the Thunderbird Cafeteria at the Cottonwood Campground and treated ourselves to some baked lamb, veggie lasagna and two big oatmeal raisen cookies. Nancy had a big choc-chip cookie. And while were in there I asked if I could take a photo of this darling little Natvie American in a papoose. We miss our grand babies. Until our next blog, Joe & Nancy.