Inside Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

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In this second video about Canyon de Chelly, we’re going into the canyon with a Navajo guide and camping overnight. We booked our tour through the Spider Rock Campground host. We leave our camp site that is in Spider Rock Campground on the canyon rim.

Other than the White House pueblo trail, for all other canyon floor access you must be with an authorized Navajo guide or a US Park Ranger. It’s been a dry, so much of the canyon road is soft, thick sand.

Canyon de Chelly contains dwellings and rock art of 5 peoples: the Archaic, the Basketmakers, the Pueblo, the Hopi and the Navajo. The Navajo still live here today. Respectfully, and at their request, images of the Navajo and their personal belongings are not included or are blurred in this video.

White House Ruin is named for the long white plaster wall of the upper dwelling. White house was constructed and lived in by the Ancestral Puebloans about 1,000 years ago. Cottonwood and russian olive trees are prominent in the canyon floor, along with the indigenous Tamarisk bushes. The flowers of the russian olive trees smell immensely sweet.

The sandstone Spider Rock rises upwards of 750 feet from the Canyon floor at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon. Spider Rock has spiritual and cultural significance for the Navajo. Visitors come from around the world to visit the canyon and Spider Rock. Our guide takes us to the place we will make camp. It is near Sliding House. The property has been in his family for generations. We setup our little Coleman pup tent that we’ve had for years.

Built around the year 900, Sliding House contained up to 50 rooms and 3 kivas. It was occupied until the mid-1200s. The sloping floor of the ledge gives the dwelling its name. A large part of the structure has fallen off of the ledge.

The next morning Bill discovers a raccoon visited the camp area during the night and was digging up and eating antlion larvae. Well that’s interesting. We show you what an antlion larvae looks like.

Today we explore Canyon Del Muerto. The falling fluff covered seeds of the Cottonwood trees is so thick it looks like snow. Antelope House is on the canyon floor so it is easier to see. It is named for its images of antelope that are attributed to Navajo artist, Little Sheep, who lived here in the early 1800s. They represent the Navajo returning to the canyon to thrive again. Antelope House pueblo stood 3 to 4 stories high, had more than 80 rooms and at least 7 kivas. It has two room blocks connected by a central, circular plaza. It is the only site in the canyon to have this type of plaza.

[Correction: In the video we say that tamarisk is indigenous to Canyon de Chelly. This is incorrect. While cottonwood and willow trees are indigenous, the tamarisk bush is not. Our guide identified the tamarisk bush to us and told us it is indigenous. It is our error for not verifying the information before including it in the video.]

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Informational Links

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/cach/index.htm

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canyon_de_Chelly_National_Monument

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