weather icon Partly Cloudy

Canyon de Chelly a feast for eyes, soul

Avisit to Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a feast for the eyes and soul. Here you will find sheer red sandstone cliffs rising 1,000 feet above the fertile farmland of the canyons, where prehistoric ancestral Puebloan ruins and hundreds of other archaeological sites dot the landscape. People have lived here nearly 5,000 years — believed to be the longest continuous occupancy of any site on the Colorado Plateau.

The monument was established in 1931 and is comprised of 84,000 acres within the Navajo Reservation at Chinle, Ariz. While the monument is administrated by the National Park Service, it lies on Navajo trust lands that are home to the Diné (Navajo) people. The elevation is between 5,500 feet and 7,000 feet, which means it will most likely be 15 or so degrees cooler than Las Vegas temperatures.

The monument has two main canyons, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced “de-shay”) and Canyon del Muerto. Both canyons are home to hundreds of archaeological sites including numerous ruins of former dwellings, located high on the cliff walls in large natural alcoves. Some of the ruins can be viewed from the 10 overlooks along the South and North Rim drives but seeing them up close is even more rewarding.

If you wish to hike down into Canyon de Chelly for that closer look, unless you sign up for a tour with a Navajo guide, there is only one trail open to visitors. The White House Trail is a 2.5-mile roundtrip and descends about 600 feet to White House Ruin. Ancestral Puebloans occupied the dwelling about 1,000 years ago.

To visit other ruins and see more of the canyons, I highly recommend taking a Navajo guided jeep tour. The tours are quite educational and travel into both of the main canyons. Tours are offered in several lengths, but even on a one-half day tour you will stop and see dozens of archaeological sites including ruins of former dwellings, as well as petroglyphs and pictographs. Horse and hiking tours are also available. Prices vary depending on which tour company you choose, and a list of guides appears on the park website, www.nps.gov/cach/.

Natural water sources and rich soil bless the canyon, so many of its residents grow vegetables and fruit trees, graze cattle or raise sheep and goats. People live in modest homes, some of them the traditional hogans made of logs and earth.

The canyon is lush with mature cottonwood trees, and wildflowers are in bloom this time of year. Among the wildlife of the canyon are bears, mountain lions, bobcats, wild turkeys and a variety of raptors and other birds.

Lodging is available near the park’s entrance at the Holiday Inn, 928-674-5000. www.holiday-inn.com/; Best Western, 928-674-5875, www.bestwestern.com/; and the historic Sacred Canyon Lodge, 928-674-5841, www.sacredcanyonlodge.com/.

Camping is available at the Canyon de Chelly Cottonwood Campground at the entrance of the park. No campfires are allowed. Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but if you need further information contact Navajo Parks and Recreation, 928-674-2106.

For a no-frills and extremely rustic experience, Spider Rock Campground is great. Its most charming features are hogans of various sizes that you can stay in overnight, and the fact that campfires are allowed. It is in the park and offers guided tours of the canyon, either by hiking or by four-wheel-drive vehicle. Contact Howard Smith for a reservation, 928-674-8261 or www.spiderrockcampground.com/.

From March through November, the Navajo Nation observes Mountain Daylight Time, which means it will be one hour later than Nevada. The visitor center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Alcohol is not permitted on the Navajo Reservation.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled in the book “Base Camp Las Vegas, Hiking the Southwestern States.” She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the newly released book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Registration begins for youth sports

Registration is now being accepted from those interested in participating in Boulder City Parks and Recreation Department’s 2023 youth basketball or floor hockey leagues.

Trail provides glimpse into dam’s history

A trail passes through tunnels of Lake Mead history and hints at the challenges of taming a once-wild Colorado River to harness its water and power. The mostly flat Historic Railroad Trail allows walkers and bicyclists to travel back to the early 1930s on a path where tracks once guided trains hauling materials and critical components for Hoover Dam’s construction.

City Recreation

Youth sports return for fall

Pickleball proves popular; city to add courts

The sport of pickleball is expanding faster than the dry areas at Lake Mead, with over 5 million players nationwide. Boulder City has noticed this and, in a recent City Council meeting, approved $160,000 of the American Rescue Plan Act COVID-19 relief funds for additional courts in the city.

Fishers angle for best spot

Anglers covered the shorelines at Veterans’ Memorial Park on Saturday, June 11, as Boulder City hosted the Southern Nevada free fishing day event.

94-year-old still out on the green

Feeling younger than ever, 94-year old Virginia “Birdie” Hurst is an avid golfer who has no plans to slow down.

Catalina evokes visions of romance, nature

For many who grew up in the 1950s or ’60s, the name of Santa Catalina will always evoke the vision of California at its most romantic, thanks to the Four Preps’ influential pop song of the same name. But the actual island has helped city folk enjoy romance, nature and elegant surroundings in their preferred proportions for nearly a century.

Waterfall standout of Grand Staircase-Escalante

While it would take a lifetime to see all the extraordinary wonders of the 1.87-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, even on a short visit you can hike to some of the highlights. One of the standouts, that most people are eager to visit, is Lower Calf Creek Falls.