Canyon De Chelly National Monument is located five miles east of Chinle. The canyon is approximately 26 miles long and the sheer walls rise as high as 1000 ft. Due to its rich soil and ample water supplies, various native americans have lived in the canyon since about 2500 B.C. The Navajo arrived sometime in the 17th century. Many still live in the canyon tending peach orchards, cornfields and livestock.
This Navajo Nation land is operated jointly with the National Park Services. It preserves ruins of the early indigenous tribes that lived in the area, including the Anasaz and Navajo. The elevation at the park ranges from 5,500 at the visitor center to over 7,000 feet at the last overlook.
From the Visitor Center, two paved rim drives lead to several overlooks that provide excellent views of the canyon below. Allow 2 hours on each side to visit 3 overlooks on the North Rim Drive and 7 overlooks on the South Rim Drive.
About 6 miles from the Visitor Center, there is one public trail to hike at the White House Ruin Overlook. Allow two hours round trip to hike about 600 feet down the switchback trail to the White House Ruin. No pets are allowed on the trail. This is the only trail you can take without an authorized guide.
Tours into the backcountry of the canyon require a backcountry permit and hiring an authorized guide. Permits are free and available from the Visitor Center during regular business hours only. Tours by hiking, horseback or vehicle are provided by private guides and companies.
This is a worthwhile place to visit if you only have a few hours. You can also spend a few days here. Campsites are available at no charge year round. The availability of campsites is on a first come first serve basis. There are also some hotels near by. Jeep tours are available, as well as horseback tours.
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