The Navajo who live in Canyon de Chelly have their own name for this sacred place: Tsaile (SAY-hi), which simply means “home.”
Part of the Navajo Tribal Trust Land, this area lies at the junction of two ancient canyons. Over 30 million years, erosion carved towering cliffs that now rise 1,000 feet off the canyon floor. Into these red rock walls, the Navajo built dwellings to gain protection from the sun and wind.
In the park visitor center, see archaeological artifacts and learn how the Navajo constructed their six-sided houses, called hogans. Then drive to the end of the South Rim and on your return, stop at the Spider Rock and Junction Overlooks. View traditional Navajo homes from above and scan the canyon walks_ for native artwork. If you have time (as well as good shoes and plenty of water) hike from White House Ruin Overlook to the canyon floor. Here you’ll find native structures that date back more than a millennium.
The North Rim drive includes stops at the 900-year-old Lodge Ruin, rock drawings_ of antelope, Mummy Cave Ruin (the largest in the area), and Massacre Cave, where 115 Navajo warriors lost their lives to Spanish soldiers in 1805.
Visitors can drive both rims and hike from White House Ruin unescorted. For a more memorable experience, engage a Navajo escort who can share the history and significance of Canyon de Chelly.