Saturday, August 23, 2014

Canyon de Chelly - Indian Summer Vacation Video Series

This is the last video of my Indian Summer Vacation Series, and while only running three minutes, it's a spectacular one. Our last day was spent in Canyon de Chelly  (info here,) near Chinle, Arizona. While part of the Navajo Nation, it's partially run by the National Park Service. And some Indian families still live there. You are required to have a guide to enter the canyon (except for the White House Ruin Trail.)

Our home base of Spider Rock Campground (see my video blog post, with links, here) supplied a tour guide at $75 dollars per person. While quiet-spoken, our tour guide, Ben, shared many interesting stories about Canyon De Chelly. You check in at a ranger station then just drive right in. We brought a picnic, as the tour lasted half the day.

It's a fertile valley with 2000 foot (in parts) high walls on 2 sides. Many plants and animals trive here - while just outside of Canyon De Chelly the landscape is harsh and desert-like. Various Indian Clans have settled here over time. The valley floods during a short rainy season, but while we were there our tour guide only had to drive through shallow stream beds.

We made many stops to look at petroglyphs and ancient Indian dwellings. Make sure to bring binoculars as the cliff dwellings are almost impossible to reach. Even the original inhabitants had to build long ladders to climb to the stone pueblos.

The ocre/red sandstone walls drop straight down with natural caves and ledges in the shear walls. Ancient peoples carved-out and built structures in the cliffs thousands of years ago.

The White House Ruins is one of the main stops. There are water stations and restrooms nearby. Gift tables manned by local natives carry all manner of jewelry, pottery and clothing. You can walk a trail to get closer, although we did not do it. Waves of different Indian Clans have taken refuge there. I asked out tour guide why anyone would live in the side of a cliff, he said it was because of the floods and wild animals (and probably to keep enemies at bay.) Another blogger describes a hike to the ruins here.

Driving along the majestic high walls puts you in humble space. We even passed a sandstone Arch or two. At the end of the trail was Spider Rock. At about 800 feet high, it looks nothing like an arthropod. The spectacular red sandstone monolith is said to be the home of Spider Woman, an ancient Navajo Deity, click here to read about the legend.

Spider Rock is indeed awesome and we stopped to have a picnic under the trees nearby. This was the end of the valley tour for us. We packed the leftovers and headed back.

(Here is the National Park Services website that gives you many details about: directions, visiting hours, a brief history, camping and free Ranger led activities.)

One last photo op was for Dog Rock, can you see the canine? Well, just watch my video below, were I trace the outline (if you can't quite make out the dog.)
Dog Rock

That's it. My Indian Vacation Series is over, but you can return anytime to view all 9 blog post and videos anytime. A big 99 thanks to my wife, Amy, for arranging and booking the trip (and for being a fun  travel mate,) plus all the cool tour guides, park rangers, and friendly and informative local Native Indians, for showing us the way.

Canyon de Chelly- Video #9

Play it here, video runs 3 minutes.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

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