Off the grid, Onto the Reservation, into the Canyon De Chelly

Canyon De Chelly

Canyon De Chelly

If you hang a right at Gallup, New Mexico and head northwest into Arizona, you enter the Navajo Tribal lands. At  17 million acres, it covers the entire northeast corner of Arizona and spills into New Mexico and Utah. When we entered these tribal lands we lost all contact with the rest of the world. No cell service, no internet. (at least no Verizon or Sprint) The campground we stayed in at Canon De Chelly National Monument had no electric, so no TV either.

Since leaving Oklahoma, we had a few days of travel to get here.  We breezed west, stopping briefly in Amarillo (it hadn’t improved much since our last visit) and Albuquerque (A sprawling town of 700, 000 or so. We had a great New Mex dinner at the Church Street Cafe n Old Town, but decided we liked Santa Fe  better.) Now we were finally in the real west…the land of mesas, buttes and canyons, red rock and pink sand. This is also the  land of the ancestral Puebloan people, their descendants are today’s Pueblo and Hopi Indians, often called the Anasazi, a Navajo word meaning Ancient ones.

People have lived in these canyons for 5,000 years. I won’t bore you with the archeological  history, not everyone shares my fascination with it, but Canyon De Chelly (d’SHAY) National Monument, now home to the Navaho people, was established to preserve this record of our human history.

Spider Rock

Spider Rock

This canyon is really a labyrinth  of several canyons formed over millions of years.  Deep in the canyons the walls rise a thousand feet over the streams, cotton woods and small Navajo farms below. Many of the sites within the canyon hold spiritual  significance to the Navajo’s. One very sacred spot, Spider Rock, an 800-foot sandstone spire that rises from the canyon floor was awe-inspiring.  We also saw White House Ruin, built and occupied by those ancient Puebloan’s about a 1,000 years ago.  On one trail I followed footprints carved in the sandstone to find the overlook. I have a feeling they were made a little more recently than that.

White House Ruins

White House Ruins and cave dwelling

Footprints in the sandstone

Footprints in the sandstone

About JudithC99

Wanderer. Writer. Artist. Photographer. Learner. Traveler of the Red Roads


  1. These pictures are absolutely amazing. I am from the east coast and we are not treated to this kind of natural beauty everyday. I hope to someday travel and see all of this in person 🙂

    • I’m from the east too (NY, now FL) lots of nice stuff there from Everglades to NYC, i’ve blogged about them both. This is a five month trip so hop on board and come along. I like your blog, by the way

      • Thank you for checking it out and I will definitely be following along to see all the sights. Hopefully, I’ll get to see them in person one day as well 🙂

  2. Flo Jones

    Was George the Navajo guide still driving the old Duece – converted to tour wagon in the canyon?

  3. Beautiful. Wish I were travelling.

  4. What a beautiful place! Hope to get there next week!

  5. We so enjoyed this area when we visited last spring. There is no shortage of mind-blowing scenery and interesting things to learn. Enjoy!

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  7. Bob

    We loved our visit to Canyon de Chelly. Like you we found the Anasazi sites fascinating.

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  9. Linda

    How big was the footprint in the sandstone?

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