Some places became a touristic mecca. You see the lines of those who wait to enter or make a photo, or a have a single second sight on the attraction. Those who want intimacy in these places wake up before the sunrise.
The only thing that matter, sometimes in those lines people miss the less famous but still lovely places. Even more: sometimes we struggling in the crowd in one area when almost identical has none visitors.
Why am I telling this to you? Because Canyon de Chelly fails into the category of those attractions that we are driving by, and never see on Instagram.
The place has so many sides to see and stories to learn that it’s sad that tourists oversee it.
On Dec 25th we drove from Sedona. I had one place in the mind for that day, but the weather didn’t give us a chance to see it in the whole beauty. So the plan was adjusted. The long drive through the desert via Indians roads led us to the Canyon del Muerto of Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
Canyon Del Muerto
Just 15 miles drive from the Chinle there is an excellent viewpoint – Massacre Cave Overlook.
In 1805 when the majority of men were hunting, Spanish soldiers attacked the nearby village. Women, children and elderly fled to the cave in the canyon wall. It was a good hideout, not visible from below, protected by the rocks.
There are no official accounts what exactly happened that day. Navajo call that site “The Place Where two fell off.” The story tells that one woman wasn’t able to run off from the soldier when two of them slip off and fall in the canyon.
As a result, the cave was discovered. Bullets ricocheted from the walls and killed the majority.
The sad story, however, can’t make the site less beautiful.
Another overlook worse visiting is a Mummy Cave. From it, you will be able to see Tse yaa Kini, or house under the rock.
The Antelope House Ruin Overlook has a short trail between two viewpoints. One is the remains of the Antelope House, which was named after the painting of antelope on the canyon wall.
The trail ends at Navajo Fortress, the high redstone butte across the canyon. It served as a refuge from Spanish and American riders.
South Rim Drive
The first stop on the South Rim drive is a Tunnel Canyon Overlook. Here you first start to see signs that prohibit to go beyond without a permit and local guide.
The next stop is Tsegi Overlook from where the fields of the tribe are visible.
The Junction Overlook is a place of junction of Canyon del Muerto and Canyon de Chelly.
Next stop has access to the only public trail in the park. White House Overlook gives you the view of the village that housed more than a dozen families.
The trail to the ruins starts near the overlook. It’s relatively short and moderate hike (the way down is easier but switchbacks could be a challenge on the way back).
The trail is the only way to get to the bottom of the canyon without a guide. The path descends down via series of switchbacks, passes two tunnels down to the wash.
It ends near the wall of the canyon. The fence surrounds the ruins, but there are few spots from which is possible to check out what is inside of them.
And the last stop is Spider Rock Overlook. It’s perhaps the most known location in the park.
Spider Rock is 800 feet tall and stands at the junction of the two canyons: Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon.
The Navajo believes that atop of the rock lives Spider Woman. She taught Navajo women how to weave. They also believe she carries naughty children to the top of the Spider Rock.