Spider Rock

Spider Rock

After visiting the Canyon de Chelly Visitor Center, we drove the South Rim Drive to the Spider Rock Overlook. Spider Rock is an 800-foot sandstone spire that rises from the canyon floor at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon. On our return to Chinle we stopped at each overlook. At Face Rock Overview we saw the continuation of Canyon de Chelly from Spider Rock. Sliding House Overlook displayed a twisted rock monolith formation. We couldn’t actually see White House Ruin from this overlook, but we did observe several tour vehicles starting their exit from the valley. Junction Overlook has views of Chinle Valley and the confluence of Canyon del Muerto and Canyon de Chelly. Navajo farmlands on the canyon floor can be seen from Tsegi Overlook. Native vendors offer their wares at many of the overlooks. In the parking lot of this overlook we listened to the haunting melody of Native flutist D’Von Charley and purchased his CD Canyon Voice. A trail which requires a guide winds through Tunnel Overlook.

White House Ruins

White House Ruins

On our second day we hired a guide, Leander of Beauty Way, for a three hour trip into the Chinle Valley. He shared details of his own story along with information about Navajo culture. Many of our stops were to see the ruins of Ancestral Puebloans. He pointed out pictograph and petroglyph images on the canyon walls. Our final stop was White House ruin, named for the long white plaster wall in the upper dwelling where Ancestral Puebloans lived 1,000 years ago. On our exit we stopped at weaver Kathryn’s place where she demonstrated the different steps required in making her rugs. It was interesting to see the canyon from this perspective.

Navajo Fortress

Navajo Fortress

In the afternoon we took the North Rim Drive. The construction of the cliff dwelling at Antelope House Overlook started about 700 and continued to be lived in for 600 years. The huge rock formation known as Navajo Fortress marks the junction of the Del Muerto and Black Rock Canyons. “Stairways” of movable, notched poles were positioned to reach otherwise inaccessible areas as part of this Navajo refuge from enemy attack. At Massacre Cave Overlook one can see the cave where the Spanish led by Antonio Narbona fired from the rim and killed all 115 Navajo in 1805. Mummy Cave Overlook, whose cave is also known as the House Under the Rock, is a site where mummified bodies an Ancestral Puebloans were discovered. Canyon de Chelly is well worth a visit.

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