About Canyon de Chelly
Red sandstone cliffs enclose Canyon de Chelly from the surrounding deserts. Cottonwood trees grow along the wash, which carries water only after heavy rains. The cliffs stand high above the trees, reaching as much as 1000 feet tall. Native Americans have lived in Canyon de Chelly for thousands of years and still live there today, it being a part of the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation. The ancient Anasazi built impressive stone buildings under the cliffs. Today's Navajos live in modern but simple houses scatted through the canyon, and farm in the narrow spaces between the cliffs and the sandy wash.
Canyon de Chelly is actually a labyrinth of canyons which are as much as twenty miles long. Canyon de Chelly is the southern branch which heads nearly eastward into the Defiance Plateau. Canyon del Muerte is the other major branch which heads to the northeast. Black Rock Canyon is a smaller branch off Canyon del Muerte. Monument Canyon and Bat Canyon break off of Canyon de Chelly to the south. Numerous other small side canyons are unnamed and vary in size. All these canyons converge towards the west where the Chinle Wash flows out of the cliffs and into Beautiful Valley. The ground of the Defiance Plateau slopes downward to the west so that the cliff walls gradually diminish in height until they vanish.
Visitors see the view of the canyon from the rim, following either the North Rim Road or the South Rim Road. Visitors are not allowed into the canyon without taking a guided tour. There is no proper road in the canyon, but guides drive up the sandy beds of the wash, and even through occasional water flowing in the wash.
Canyon de Chelly was established on April 1, 1931 and is administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It includes 131 square miles. The town of Chinle is just to the west of the park. U.S. Highway 191 passes through Chinle. The name Canyon de Chelly is pronounced Canyon d'Shay.
a dirt road|
Antalope House Road|
Junction Overlook Turnout
North Rim Drive
South Rim Drive|