Thursday, October 30, 2014

Canyon de Chelly

White House Ruins
Last long run done and we were off for the vacation part of our trip. We'd wanted to travel to this National Monument in northeastern Arizona last year but the long government shut down changed our plans.

Road Trip! It's a 3-4 hour drive from Albuquerque and I'm not sure it's any closer to any other larger city. This area is remote. K and I took turns driving and made numerous stops to other National areas to break up the drive. It was nice not to be in any hurry

Canyon de Chelly is entirely within the Navajo Nation and as such has very strict rules for access.  This felt right to me as there is a lot of nasty history in this area. Like in Ireland, it seemed like seemingly distant history was very much recent and a reminder. It was good to respect that.

Hiking down to canyon floor on White House Ruins Trail
We were there for two nights. Chinle, the small town adjacent to the attraction, is very small with limited tourist accommodations. Restaurants are limited too. We made do and stayed at the very clean but older lodge within the national monument which has an attached cafeteria. It made for easy access and it was nice to be off of the busy main road of the town. 

We drove the South Rim the first evening we were in and were dazzled by the canyon. The next morning, K and I went for a short easy run just on the main highway. There are no sidewalks but there is enough of a shoulder and drivers are well accustomed to foot activity it seemed. They gave us a wide berth. WE headed right off to the White House Ruin Trail which is the only trail tourists can access on their own.

Spectacular! It was a relatively easy hike down to the canyon floor and then back up. Yes, this is at altitude but we had perfect weather. It was sunny towards the end but not too hot. We made plenty of stops for photos and just marveled at it all.  The only other way to access the canyon is to hire a local guide for a jeep tour. And we did that in the afternoon.

Actually it makes perfect sense. There is no road into the canyon. Jeeps drive in on the canyon floor which at certain times of the year is a river and unpassable! The sand is deep and it was fun to be in the 4 wheel drive vehicle. JJ, our guide, had grown up in the canyon and had a lot on interesting observations and stories.  This was well worth it. Since we'd already hiked to the White House Ruin, he took us farther up into the Canyon del Muerto. It was beautiful, quiet and evocative. No airplanes or any other noises besides the wind in the trees and the occasional animal noise.
Mummy Cave Ruins

K and I had one last shorter am run and headed off to drive the north rim. We saw the most spectacular ruins perched on the canyon wall. HOW did they do that? How did they live there?

I'd love to go back.

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