Canyon de Chelly
National Monument is located in
north-eastern Arizona on the border with the Navajo
Nation. First natives that left evidence for their inhabitants were the
ancient Pueblo People who were later followed by the Navajo tribes. Canyon de Chelly National Monument
is a spectacular combination of natural beauty created by erosion
and human activity who lived here in dwellings spread all along the canyon. Tourists
should not forget that Canyon de Chelly is also a sacred place for Navajo
Nation that venerate people who once lived here. Please respect their culture
and traditions and don’t take souvenirs from any archaeological sites.
To this day Navajo tell a story about several incursions by the
Europeans. First attacks were led by the Spanish empire which resulted in a
massacre at the Massacre Cave. More recent incursion were led by the army of the
United States. First military expedition inside territory of the future Canyon de Chelly
National Monument were led by future New Mexico governor Leutenant Antonio
Narbona in 1805. It was largely short lived. However, in 1863 Colonel Kit Carson
sent his troops to permanently defeat the Navajo tribes. Many natives were
massacred and survivors were forced to surrender. Remaining tribes were moved to
Bosque Redondo, New Mexico.
Rock (Canyon de Chelly National Monument)
Spider Rock is easily recognized and serves as an icon for Canyon de Chelly
National Monument. Thousands of tourists come here and make pictures of this
iconic geologic formation. However according to
the Dine (Navajo tribe) tradition this rock formation should be avoided. Natives scarred
their children telling them that a terrible creature that is known as Spider
Woman lives on its top of a Spider Rock. Those kids
that misbehave are snatched at night and dragged up a narrow mesa. Legend
also claim white bones of little kids litter the top of the Spider Rock.
Massacre Cave (Canyon de Chelly National Monument)
has its own tragic story behind its name. It was here where local Navajos tried to
hide from the invading Spanish troops under leadership of Lieutenant Antonio Narbona in 1805. The Spanish fired into a cave killing dozens of people.
According to Spanish account about 115 Navajos were killed including 90
warriors. Native tribes claim that most of the killed were in face
civilians. Most of the warriors were hunting elsewhere and escaped the
massacre. The Navajo name of the cave is "Two Fell Over" is a reference to one
woman who grabbed a Spanish soldier and dragged him over a cliff. Both
plunged to the depth of the canyon and died, thus giving the local name.
Fees and permits
There are no fees to enter the park. To drive on
the canyon bottom, a 4-wheel drive vehicle, a Park Service permit
and an authorized Navajo guide are required. The fee is $15 an hour
for 1 vehicle, $5 an hour for each additional vehicle with a
5-vehicle limit per guide. Hiking within the canyon requires a Park
Service permit and an authorized Navajo guide, except along the
2.5-mile (4-km) White House Ruins Trail. One guide may take up to 15
people for $15 per hour.
Where to sleep
Lodging Holiday Inn Canyon de Chelly and Best
Western Canyon de Chelly Inn are nearby, between Chinle and Canyon
Thunderbird Lodge, ☎ +1 928 674-5841, +1 928
674-5842. Open year-round. This comfortable motel-style facility is
at the canyon mouth.
Camping A small campground with 15
basic units is at the monument itself; first-come, first-served,