Scenic USA - Arizona

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

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Canyon de Chelly - Arizona

Photos by Denny Barnes
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     Easily out-classed by the enormity and popularity of the Grand Canyon, the unheralded Canyon de Chelly (duh-SHAY) Visitor Center - Canyon de Chelly National Monument, AZ is thought by some to be the most sacred and most striking canyonland on earth. Occupied on and off over the last 5000 years, Canyon de Chelly National Monument preserves over 2700 known archaeological sites.
     Covering nearly 84,000 acres within the Navajo Nation, visitors are permitted to follow 43 miles of the Antelope Ruins - Canyon de Chelly National Monument, AZ North and South Rim Drives. Here, a dozen overlooks provide incredible views straight down into a canyon that varies from 500 to 1000 feet deep. From the White House Ruins overlook, a 2.5 mile trail leads down into the canyon. Canyon Overlook - Canyon de Chelly National Monument, AZ Named for its light-colored plastered walls, this ancient cliff house is the only hike into the canyon permitted without a Navajo guide.
     All along the canyon floor, cut by the Rio de Chelly, Navajos live and farm the fertile valley. Children and dogs scamper beside fields of alfalfa and corn. Goat and sheep herds wander below century old rock shelters built among the face of the cliffs. Here, ancient Puebloan people once lived and farmed along the river banks for centuries. National park personnel offer free ranger led programs in the summer, while private Navajo guided tours are fee-based. Canyon Jeep tours, varying from a few hours to full day trips, offer unforgettable views and a face-to-face introduction to Navajo culture.

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