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Published: October 22nd 2009
get yer kids!
Antelope House Overlook
Last night we stayed in Chinle, AZ. As far as we could tell, there's nothing fantastic about the town, but lurking shortly outside of the town limits is a spectacular place neither mom nor I had anticipated. I'm talking about Canyon de Chelly National Monument! This gem of a beauty happens to be FREE to visit at all times of the year. FREE!! However, to enter into the canyon, you have to pay for a guide who is a local Navajo. Since visiting the canyon wasn't even originally a part of our trip, we couldn't go to the bottom of the canyon due to lack of permits. But, viewing the canyon atop the perches on the rim was just as wonderful!
Unlike other National Parks, Canyon de Chelly doesn't have an actual entrance like you would expect. There is a visitors center where you can get info, maps, etc but there's no official gate to go through. There are 2 highways that take you to see the Canyon, each one with smaller roads stemming off. These smaller roads are what actually brings you to the canyon rim. If you weren't aware of these roads, you'd most likely cruise
right past the canyon without even knowing it's there. And that would be a shame!
We opted for the North Rim Drive considering it would be easier to connect from there & drive further north to Colorado, our final destination. Besides, not having visited the South Rim is all the more reason to take another trip there! And next time, Jeff will be able to go as well😊
Navajo still live in the canyon valley. The floor is a lush green and you can see sporatic small farms dotting the landscape. Other than that, the canyon seems to be an unspoiled, wild land, with it's wind swept landscape, red climbing cliff faces, and calming silence. Along the drive, we stopped at a few points where we could look deep down into the canyon and get a glimpse of the past.
Antelope House Ruin was the 1st place we saw. There were white antelope drawings on the wall, but I wasn't able to get a clear picture of them. According to the park's literature, the drawings are from the early 1800s. The ancient ruins are an ancient Puebloan village that was built in the 12th century! We then
Antelope House Ruins
(look at bottom of pic)
backtracked to the Ledge Ruin Overlook (we missed the road earlier).
Further down the road we stopped at Massacre Cave Overlook. Here, in the early 1800s, a group of about 115 Navajo escaped to a perch high above the floor to seek shelter from Spanish military expeditionaries. They were discovered and all of the Navajo on the ledge were shot to death, hence the gruesome name.
After spending a few hours consuming the beauty of the canyon, we headed off on the rest of our trip. Our path took us through the 4 corners where there happens to be (not surprised at this!) a monument erected that shows where all for corners of the states meet. In case you aren't a geography whiz, the 4 states that meet are Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. We stopped for the obligatory photo op and had to touch all four states at the same time. Wow--we sure are flexible!
Next, beautiful Colorado....
(scroll down to see all pics)
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