Ever since visiting these remote sandstone canyons in the ‘80’s, I have been in awe of their subtle and lasting beauty. The peacefulness of this 131 square mile landscape continues to haunt me to this day. It is located in northeastern Arizona within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. This no-fee National Monument preserves pueblo ruins of the earlier indigenous tribes that lived in the area, including the Anasazi and Navajo Native Americans. The name Chelly is a Spanish use of the Navajo Tséyi, which means “canyon”.

Canyon de Chelly is unique among National Park service units, as it consists entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land. Farming still takes place within the park, and it is one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America. Rock imagery adorns the soaring walls of the deep canyons, which have three major sections with two drives that overlook the ruins. Access to the canyon floor is restricted, but visitors are allowed to travel in the canyons when accompanied by a park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide. The exception is access to the White House Ruin Trail, which is a fairly moderate climb. The gently sculpted walls change color throughout the day, and the soaring spire called Spider Rock juts magnificently from the canyon floor.

Just one view from the 1,000 ft. high cliffs will impress any visitor with the utter natural simplicity of this last stronghold of the Navajo people. Early Spring and late Fall are perfect times to visit Arizona and you can even camp near the entrance of the park. Have fun!