If These Walls Could Talk... They would tell you that for nearly 5,000 years, people have lived in these canyons - longer than anyone has lived uninterrupted anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. Their homes and images tell us their stories. Today, Navajo families make their homes, raise livestock, and farm the lands in the canyon. The National Park Service and Navajo Nation are actively working together to manage park resources.
I didn't mind this hike, My wife on the other hand would not rate it very high, I would put this on the "hard" end of easy, especially if you do it in some heat, coming up can be rough in the heat, very little shade if any. Definitely enjoyable going down, once in the canyon, it's ok. My wife did not like the Indian sellers you have to walk by to see the ruins, or the fact you are kept a pretty good distance away from them, with an ugly steel fence between you & the ruins (not great for pictures). It is the only way to see the canyon without hiring a guide, so from that perspective, to me it's kinda a must do unless you happy taking pictures from the overlooks looking down
Steep descent/ascent. Varied trail, but mostly slick rock. Some sections with sheer drop offs. Be smart: water, hat, sunscreen...DUH!! Gorgeous views, lots of folks on the trail, horses down at the water, petroglyphs, ruins and Navajo artisans. Worthwhile hike.
Hiked from Bat Cave Canyon down into Canyon de Chelly. Past Spider Rock and Face Rock. Saw lots of pictographs and petroglyphs, as well as ruins and pottery shards. Wonderful and awe-inspiring. Climbed out at Sliding House Ruins. Kudos to Benjamin, my Navajo guide, who ALSO took me up Canyon del Muerte the next day.
V L. on White House Ruin Trail
Magnificent trail. It is a pretty good workout on the legs going down and then back up. The views are well worth it.
After a brief visit at the Painted Desert Visitor Center, we got back on I-40 and headed east to Chambers and took a left on hwy 191 north to Canyon de Chelley at Chinle, with free admission to the park. We traveled above the rim of a 1,000 foot canyon stretching along a flat, green and sandy bottom dotted with hogans (hexagonal structures of logs and earth that Navajos use as both homes and ceremonial centers - one was at the visitor center), cliff dwellings, and red rocks. We took the 16-mile constantly ascending south rim drive with 8 overlooks and dramatic vistas (vs. the 15 mile north rim drive Canyon de Muerto). Near the mouth of the canyon was Tunnel Overlook, where a short narrow canyon feeds into Chinle Wash, which is formed by streams cutting through the canyons of the national monument. The next stop is the Junction Overlook, which overlooks the junction of Canyon del Muerto and Canyon de Chelly. Here we saw the Junction Ruin through our binoculars; the ruin has 10 rooms and a kiva. First Ruin, which is perched precariously on a long narrow ledge, was also visible. In this ruin are 22 rooms and two kivas. The third stop is White House Overlook, from which we saw the impressive 80-room White House Ruins, which are among the largest ruins in the canyon. Although we did not hike it, from this overlook is the only opportunity to descend into Canyon de Chelly descending 600 feet to the canyon floor, cross Chinle Wash, and approach the White House Ruins on the White House Trail. The buildings of this ruin were constructed both on the canyon floor and 50 feet up the cliff wall in a small cave. Although you cannot enter the ruins, you can get close enough to get a good look. Unsupervised access is restricted to the rim overlooks and to this single trail into the canyon - for all other trips down or along the canyon, a Navajo escort is required. The 2.5-mile RT hike takes about 2 hours. The black streaks on the sandstone walls above the White House Ruins, known as desert varnish, are formed by seeping water, which reacts with iron in the sandstone (iron is what gives the walls their reddish hue). A well-maintained trail, there are a couple of short tunnels, plenty of cacti and lizards, and the track passes a farm and an orchard before crossing the stream to the Ruins. Near the stream, just before the second tunnel, there is an interesting short cut down a narrow gully, using old foot-holes carved in the sandstone walls. Once at the White House, rest rooms and Indian jewelry sellers detract a little from the experience but the delicate well-preserved buildings beneath the 500-foot sheer cliff are well worth the trip. The fifth stop was Sliding House Overlook. These ruins were built on a narrow shelf and appear to be sliding down into the canyon. Inhabited from about 900 until 1200, Sliding House contained between 30 and 50 rooms. This overlook is already more than 700 feet above the canyon floor, with sheer walls giving the narrow canyon a very foreboding appearance. The last stop on the South Rim was the most spectacular, Spider Rock Overlook. This viewpoint overlooks the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon. The monolithic pinnacle rises 800 feet from the canyon floor, its two freestanding towers forming a natural monument. Across the canyon from Spider Rock stands the similarly striking Speaking Rock, which is connected to the far canyon wall. We drove back down the one-way drive to 191 and headed north to the Four Corners Monument. On our way, we saw several dust devils, which are desert tornados and really neat. Looking through Maui Jim sunglasses we could really see the funnels well. A great drive.
Take water! Take water! Take water And if it's summer, take water! Needed equipment: water, a brim hat, (walking stick,) sun screen, sun glasses. -- Steep and long decline (what goes down has to come up!). No water at the bottom, except the river (maybe) running threw. The rock formations are fabulous. A lot of petrified sand dunes. First time I had ever seen that. FASCINATING! I could here the wind blowing in the sand of the contoured sandstone! There's a tunnel with a narrow walking trail. At the bottom one is the guest of Navajo farmers, that is to say, you'll be walking through their fields and past a couple fallen down old houses (2009). One can not enter the White House ruins once you get there. For the walker/hiker it's a great go! For teh novice, it will be challenging, but worht it (I think!). For the Couch potato or complainer, you might want to enjoy the overlook at the car park above!
On our way back from Mesa Verdi CO to Phoenix AZ, we stopped to view Canyon De Chelly's South Drive. The scenic highlight was Spider Rock at 800' above the canyon floor. We didn't have much time to spend exploring the canyon floor, access was limited to tour groups at the time. Worth the ride.