Canyon de Chelly
Canyon de Chelly National Monument is on the Navajo Reservation in far northeast Arizona. It combines breathtaking natural beauty and a tragic story of America's failed resettlement of close to 8,000 Navajos to Fort Sumner in New Mexico in 1864. Col. Kit Carson forced tribal members out of the canyon on a 300-mile journey known as the Long Walk. The relocation took its toll on the Navajo through starvation and disease. They returned to northeastern Arizona in 1868 after signing a peace treaty.
Canyon de Chelly and the adjacent Canyon del Muerto include ruins from ancient Puebloan people who have lived in these canyons for 5,000 years. Navajo families live in hogans at the bottom of the canyons, raising sheep and growing alfalfa, corn and fruit orchards.
Spider Rock, an 800-foot sandstone spire, is the monument's most recognizable landmark.
Guides are required for inner canyon tours except for a 2.7 mile roundtrip hike to the White House Ruin.
Motorists can view the canyon from scenic overlooks on the South Rim (37 miles roundtrip) and North Rim (34 miles roundtrip). Don't feel obligated to tour both rims. Drive the South Rim to reach Spider Rock.
At the mouth of the canyon, is a campground with limited services. Nearby is the historic Thunderbird Lodge. It includes a cafeteria in the original trading post, built in 1896. Rooms at the lodge range from about $90 to $250, depending on the season.
Temperatures can be cold and windy generally from November to February or very hot from June though August with sudden thunderstorms common in late summer.
Elevation: 5,506 in Chinle
Annual Visitation: 184,191
Don't miss Hubbell Trading Post: