Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stop 4: Canyon de Chelly

I'm not even sure where to begin with my Canyon de Chelly (pronounced d'Shay) post. Located in Chile, Arizona, it really is the middle of nowhere. We drove from the Four Corners Monument into Chinle though miles and miles of nothing. We'd come upon a turn off and gas station and realize that had been one of the small towns on our map. While not the most beautiful part of the trip, there is still something beautiful about seeing nothing for miles and being the only car on the road. 
Canyon de Chelly is simply amazing. That's all there is to it. It's a breathtaking canyon, and there to be explored practically by yourself. There were a few other cars driving through the canyon, and stopping in the overlooks, but this National Monument is very under-visited with its bigger cousin, the Grand Canyon, getting all the attention. You can't beat the Grand Canyon for its grandeur, but if you've been before, consider visiting this canyon next time.
This canyon has numerous ruins, and since it's on Navajo land, you need to view from the overlooks, or hire a guide to take you into the canyon. There is one exception, White Ruins.   

We took that hike down into the canyon and were totally alone with the ruins. It was incredible. The cliff faces are so sheer, streaked with colors and these cliff dwellings are there at the bottom. Just gorgeous.

Also in Canyon de Chelly is an overlook to gorgeous Spider Rock. This place is sacred to the Navajo because they believe this was the place where the Holy Spider Woman, the deity who taught the people how to weave, was born. As a weaver, I love the idea that the skill of weaving was held in such high regard that it was taught by a deity. (The middle two rocks in the bottom of this photo is Spider Rock.)
Navajo people still live in this canyon. You see small hogans scattered along the floor of the canyon where some Navajo still herd sheep. Along the rim are many houses and small neighborhoods where people also live. It was such a unique place, and so special for having it practically to ourselves.

We stayed one night in Chinle, but went back to the Canyon the next morning because we wanted more time there in morning light. 
From here, we got back into the car and drove to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, and then on to Winslow, Arizona where we spent our last night. 

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