Canyon de Chelly
Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Shay) is easy to get into – it’s less than 1000 feet deep – but there is only one place you can do it unaccompanied, the White House Ruins trail, because it’s sacred ground to the Navajo, many of whom still have summer homes there. The Canyon is full of their history, much of it heart-breaking, e.g. Massacre Cave where more than 115 people were killed by a Spanish military expedition in 1805. If you don’t want to walk, you can hire a guide to take you down in a 4WD or you can stop at several overlooks along the rim. We used all three methods and were rewarded with close-up views of ancient ruins (from about the 10th to 13th centuries) built into the cliffs and several petroglyphs and pictograms on the cliff walls. Click on the bottom two pictures to enlarge and see these drawings.
We stayed in the nearby town of Chinle on the Navajo reservation, an area which crosses state boundaries. There are noticeable differences from Arizona – you can’t buy alcohol, for example, and they observe daylight saving time, which the state doesn’t, so we had to reset our watches. From Chinle we also visited the eponymous rock of Window Rock, capital of the Navajo nation, which is less than a mile from the New Mexico state line. According to the map, the road we took passed into New Mexico for a short time but, because there were no state signs, we missed it. I don’t therefore feel I can add this to my tally of US states visited – shame!