There are places in the Desert Southwest that have a way of commanding reverence and awe from all that pass through. The feeling that one gets in such a place is spiritual in nature and there is a good reason why. The same ground that a visitor from the modern age trods upon has been the home of native people for many thousands of years. One such place where the captivating spiritual feeling shines through is Canyon De Chelly. Canyon De Chelly, which has been the homeland of the Navajo people for a very long time.
Canyon De Chelly National Monument is located next to the community of Chinle in the Navajo Nation. This scenic destination is relatively easy to get to from Route 66 Gallop, New Mexico or the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. Canyon De Chelly is also only about 2 hours away from the Grand Canyon National Park. Traveling from Four Corners or Shiprock is another pathway for those coming from the direction of Colorado. Before setting sail anywhere in the Southwest, it is best to keep this in mind. This entire region is prime example of a pristine desolate desert environment and the gas stations can be few and far between. For this reason it is best to top off the tank and pack plenty of water, just in case the unexpected occurs, especially during the hot summer season.
The breathtaking Canyon De Chelly landscape is as mysterious as it looks. Upon arrival, the first glance at this beautiful place will fill the heart with awe and the mind will easily become captivated. When standing near the canyon rim, do not be surprised if a big raven greets you when soaring by. The skies are crystal clear blue and the views extend far into the horizon. It is easy to be mesmerized by the majestic view of Canyon De Chelly when standing on a scenic overlook high on the canyon rim. The canyon floor is lush and green, while the towering vertical cliffs and red rock pillars touch the sky. Canyon De Chelly is truly a gift from the Mother Earth Spirit.
A good way to begin the Canyon De Chelly experience is to take in the splendid views from the scenic overlooks on the high ground. There are no fees for taking a look at the roadside overlooks and there certainly is plenty to see. There are three Canyon De Chelly North Rim Scenic Overlooks that can be found along Indian Service Road 64 and each is well worth checking out. The parking is ample at these spots and the foot trails are well marked. The foot trails do go over bare bedrock terrain, so those who have mobility challenges may need assistance. For those who wish to see a little more, following the North Rim hiking trail is a good option, because this foot path goes to many viewpoints that are not accessible by car.
Looking at Canyon De Chelly from high above on the canyon rim will be of help when orienting oneself later on when doing the guided tour on the canyon floor. The landmarks in this canyon are memorable and many have names that are easy to remember. Exploring the lush green floor of Canyon De Chelly can only be done by guided tour, because this is a protected sacred native heritage site. Visitors can choose half day or full day guided tours and this is the very best way to experience Canyon De Chelly. The Navajo tour guides offer plenty of lore, legend and history lessons that will educate the spirit of visitors for a lifetime. Guided tour options include horseback excursions and 4×4 all terrain vehicles, so practically anybody can experience this place.
Canyon De Chelly has been occupied for thousands of years by many native cultures. The apricot trees and maize grown in this fertile deep canyon valley have sustained life through times of plenty and times of draught. Many people compare this canyon to biblical sites, such as the Garden Of Eden and in a sense the comparison is true. Canyon De Chelly is a place where if the world came to a sudden end, humanity would likely sprout back to life in this lush green oasis.
The ancient Pueblo People called Canyon De Chelly home about 1,000 years ago and this civilization was famous for building many large pueblo structures in this region. The Puebloans constructed elaborate community villages and cliff dwellings throughout Canyon De Chelly that archaeologists have been pondering over for many years. The Hopi and Navajo have deep ancestral ties to this canyon and these nations still call this place home in modern times.
Many regional tribes have made use of the cliff dwelling concept during the last millennia, which was quite ingenious, because the shade of the cliffs keeps the dwellings relatively cool even during the hot summer months. Granaries located on cave pockets high on the cliff walls were free from pests by design. Residing high above the canyon floor also offered a strategic advantage when aggressive raiders passed through. The high vantage points also helped to manage agricultural techniques on the canyon floor below.
Canyon De Chelly certainly always was and still is a highly revered cultural center. Many people do pilgrimages to this site to communicate with ancestors and the Mother Earth Spirit. Tourists who are dissatisfied with the modern world seek to rekindle their own spirit in this majestic canyon. Visiting Canyon De Chelly is a remarkable adventure that should be done at least once in a lifetime and to get the most out of the experience, a guided tour must be booked. One experience is all it takes to create pleasant memories of Canyon De Chelly that can be pondered over for a lifetime!
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