Sunday, May 10, 2009

Canyon de Chelly

Venturing further south still on the largest Native American reservation in the country, we arrive at Chinle Arizona. This is a small town at the mouth of an idylic, oasis-like complex of canyons that stretch nearly forty miles. Again access is only permitted while accompanied by Navajo guides. This catch is that there are no roads into the canyons! Access is only through a sandy wash which while dry most of the time, was completely flooded during our visit. The guide companies use war surplus all wheel drive troop trucks to haul their vistors through the water and sand. There were times that I thought that we were on a boat rather than a truck. The canyon is full of ruins dating from around 1,000 years old to some more recent. There are also innumerable pictographs and petroglyphs dating from the Anasazi period to more modern Navajo occupation of the area. This is a unique national park since it is administrated by the National Park Service, but the land itself is actually owned by Navajos whose ancesters have farmed the small plots for centuries.

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