Canyon de Chelly (canyon de shay), is a Navajo ancestral home. A horrific massacre in 1805 by Spanish colonial soldiers obliterated much of the civilian population living in the canyon. United States Army Colonel Kitt Carson completed the submission of the Navajo Nation in 1864, driving the Navajo residents from the canyon. The place is now part of the Navajo Nation Trust and is occupied only by Navajo farmers. It is part of the United States Park Service, which operates a visitor’s center outside Chinle, Arizona, at the mouth of the canyon.
The plaque below depicts an incident in the massacre of 1805. A Spanish soldier and a Navajo woman engaged in hand to hand combat, and both plunged off the rim at this point.
The signs are not to be ignored. There are places I walked along the rim that spoke to me silently, “Death is just inches away.”
Guided tours are available only through Navajo agencies. There is a self-guided hike from the rim into the canyon called the White House Ruin Trail. It proceeds from the south rim to the canyon floor.
Views from the rim are spectacular. Besides the craggy walls of the canyon, there are excellent views of the farming operations on the canyon floor, 750 feet below.