We decided we'd just have time to stop at the Visitor's Center, then all 7 of the overlooks on the South Rim Drive, plus one hike. (Actually the only trail where the public is allowed to hike on their own is the White House Ruins Trail; all others have to have a Navajo guide. ~not a rant, just a comment.)
|George at Tunnel Overlook|
|Farmlands from Tseyi Overlook|
|View towards White House Ruins from Junction Overlook|
|Canyon from White House Ruins Overlook|
It's fascinating to look down into the canyon and see fields that are still cultivated. There are wild horses way down there too, but George had to point them out to me. We saw one horse grazing right next to the road--he's skinny and dirty so I figure he must be wild! (We didn't see any of the really cool Navajo sheep though.)
The elevation at the rim where the White House Ruins Trail begins is 6,300'--which is about 3,000' higher than we were used to in Arizona! The trail goes down a little ways, then goes through a tunnel before it switchbacks downhill about 600'. (Note: the brochure and a trail sign says it's a 2½ mile hike, but there's another sign at the top that says it's 1½ mile one way. Hmmm...)
We met a park ranger going up the ancient footholds dug into the rock, and talked to him a bit. He said his 93-year-old grandmother still takes her sheep down into the canyon every day. Wow! (I want to be like that, only without the sheep.)
There are two cliff dwellings across the canyon: built by ancestral Puebloan people about 1,000 years ago, the top one has a wall covered with white plaster. (Who knew plaster was a decorative medium a millennium ago?)
We made lots of stops on the way back up to the top. Juniper pollen was high, and George was having problems breathing through it. Climbing 600' takes a while when you rest about 43 times.
Last stop on our tour was Sliding House Outlook. Either the ruins were in the shadows or it slid the rest of the way off the canyon wall because I couldn't find it.
More pictures of Canyon de Chelly NM