A good friend of ours had told us about a place that she loved and had often visited called Canyon De Chelly (pronounced “Shay”) in Arizona. So, when we were on a cross-country jaunt that took us through Arizona we felt that a detour here was absolutely essential.
The Canyon de Chelly National Monument (established on April 1, 1931) is a unit of the National Park Service and is found in northeastern Arizona. It lies within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation and is located in the Four Corners region.
The area is one of the longest continuously inhabited areas in North America. In its boundaries are the ruins of the indigenous tribes who have lived in the area, from the Ancestral Puebloans to the Navajo. The park covers 83,840 acres and encompasses the floors and rims of the three major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument. These canyons were cut by streams with headwaters in the Chuska Mountains just to the east of the monument. None of the lands is federally owned and it is owned lock stock and barrel by the Navajo Nation.
We visited the Canyon in February so it was still cold, particularly on the rim of the canyon. There is a road that runs along the south rim, which gradually gains in altitude. One of the nice things about being here in the winter was that we had the canyon almost to ourselves.
Along the road, there are several pull-ins to allow you to peer down into the valley. As well as the impressive rock walls and monoliths you can see that the floor of the valley is still home to Navajo families. In some of the wider flatter sections bordering the river there we several farms with livestock and cultivated fields for crop growing.