Scenic USA - Arizona

White House Ruins

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White House Ruins, Canyon de Chelly National Monument - Chinle, Arizona

Photos by Rob Jones
Wilderness Vagabond Trip Reports

     Canyon de Chelly, a National Monument and a most intriguing canyonland, is located entirely on Navajo Tribal Land. The park, found in a remote northeast corner of Arizona near Chinle, quickly grabs a sightseer's attention with its shear 1000 foot canyon walls. The deep sandstone chasm can be viewed from ten overlooks spaced out along the North and South Canyon Rim Drives. You may opt for a Navajo guided jeep tour which follows a dirt track along the canyon floor or take a foot-trail on an unguided hike down to the White House Ruins.
     The ever impressive White House cliff dwelling dates back a thousand years when Native Americans lived and farmed in the valley. Once a stronghold for 18th century Navajo raiders, today's Canyon de Chelly is still a viable Navajo community. Some of the present Navajo residents are descendants of this ancient culture. And because of their relative isolation, the Navajo have been able to retain their cultural heritage, language and customs.
     The ruins trail, the only hike not requiring a Navajo guide, Owl Eyes - Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle, AZ is about a mile and may take two hours for the round trip. The hike begins at the White House Ruins Overlook and descends about 600 feet down a switchback trail to the site. Some of the rewards found along the trail are peculiar petroglyphs or pictographs and some oddly shaped natural arch formations. Perhaps along this path you may gather some insight about Indian life, both past and present. There's also an opportunity to appreciate the tenacity with which today's Navajo people survive in this harsh desert environment.

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