Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly has been on our must see list since moving to Arizona. We intended to include it on our northward journey in June 2016 but the brutal heat put that side trip off. So in early October as the temperatures cooled, we took a road trip without the trailer. North on Interstate 17 to Flagstaff for a good lunch at the Northern Pines resturant. East on Interstate 40 to Holbrook and up through Navajo land to Chinle and the Holiday Inn.

         Wide open road with buttes here and there. 

Chinle is not a pretty place but the Holiday Inn was a pretty spot. It was an unusual adobe style construction. Here are some photos from our room. 

We made reservations for a canyon trip through Antelope House tours for first thing the next morning. 
Our tour guide, Ben, had a truck that held 15 or so people in the open air. There were eight of us on board that chilly morning. 
The resturant at the Holiday Inn had a good breakfast buffet that we enjoyed before meeting our Navajo guide in the parking lot. Several guide services are available taking motorized tours, horseback and camping trips into the National Monument. Canyon de Chelly was established in 1931 to preserve it as a record of human history. The canyon has been occupied for 5,000 years according to the park literature. The first inhabitants built camps and etched or painted their stories on the canyon walls. A later group now called the Basketmakers, built on the canyon ledges for housing and storage. They hunted and grew corn and beans. They also made wall paintings. The ancient
 followed the Basketmakers. These Anasazi or ancient ones built the multistoried villages and kivas with decorated walls. This group moved on for the most part around 700 years ago. After that the Hopi people migrated here and used the canyon in the summer hunting and farming. Finally the Navajo came, built homes and added their own designs to the canyon walls.
The sandstone walls were carved out over time by rivers and streams. Walls of 30 feet begin near Chinle and rise to over 1,000 feet deep into the canyons. 
We begin our tour by registering at the Visitor Center. Nearby is a campground with mature trees. The paved road stops here. Only four wheeled drive vehicles can navigate the stream beds that serve as roads into the monument.

        Dave in the open air truck. The extra pads were necessary as was holding on!

The snowmelt river cuts close here in spring. 

 Ledge community. No one is allowed access to these nowadays. 

Horses roam free and Navajo families have small farms that grow corn, beans and squash. Peach orchards are also planted. 
This is Antelope House, so named by the wall paintings of Antelope that still can be found here. Our guides family has a summer house and concession stand nearby selling Navajo crafts and sandwiches. No electricity or septic systems here. Pit toilets have been installed by the Park Service. 

The White House as seen from the overlook drive above the canyon. 

There are many etchings and wall paintings in the canyon. 

Another look into the canyon from above. We see evidence of small farms as we peek over the rim. 

Paved roads skirt the monument above the canyon with overlooks built to see some of the cliff dwellings. There is a Trail to the White House that the public can take without a guide. You are cautioned to lock your car and take plenty of water along if you take the hike down into the canyon. 

As settlers moved west and land and water and minerals beckoned the white people, the Navajo or Dine as they refer to their people came into conflict with them. Conflicts escalated ending in a forced evacuation of the Dine to a reservation at Fort Sumner in New Mexico that they call the Long Walk. 
The Navajo returned and rebuilt their lives, farms and sheep herds. They began trading their baskets, jewelry and rugs for staples. Trading posts brought news and cash money into the Navajo way of life, adding to their culture and disseminating their beautiful craft work that is sought after to this day. 

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