"Canyon de Chelly: A National Treasure?" Top 5 Page for this destination Canyon de Chelly National Monument by richiecdisc

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a place of great contrasts and showcases the good and bad of the National Park system. It is a valiant attempt to maintain some connection with the natural affiliation Native Americans of the area have for this land so sacred to them. Taken for its sheer beauty, there are few places in all the southwest that combine so many elements of nature in such an awe inspiring harmonious way. A deep gorge of sheer red rock cascades down into a surprisingly verdant lush greenness. Even with no hieroglyphics or cliff dwelling ruins, this would be a special place. But these remnants of its Native American past are very much on display and that is where the chasm in how the park is being run takes its origin.

Most National Parks have some Native American history. Some of them reject their past and thrive as tourist attractions sans the baggage of a past they would like to forget. Others are trying to embrace the past but still shun the local population who feel cheated by their exclusion. Then you have Canyon de Chelly. It is very much part of the National Park system but staffed almost entirely by Native Americans who quite naturally live in and around the park. It has a different feel than the other National Parks; it's a bit more stark, but that is understandable when you look at the bleakness that surrounds it. It feels sad and with all the beauty in the canyon itself, an odd contrast. It can only be hoped that in time, the local Native American population can better harness what they have to not only take advantage of it but to welcome their fellow Americans in a way that they do not feel foreign in what too has become their country.

  • Last visit to Canyon de Chelly National Monument: Jun 2008
  • Intro Updated Aug 5, 2009
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Reviews (12)

Comments (10)

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Feb 10, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    Another excellent southwest page. We are considering a short visit to Canyon de Chelly on an upcoming Arizona New Mexico road trip this spring, time permitting.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Dec 16, 2009 at 4:56 PM

    Well constructed tips and excellent pics. Yes- a great pity that you did not have freedom of movement here. It looks like hiking paradise. Good that you managed to have your evening beer, albeit in the car.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Sep 19, 2009 at 1:13 PM

    The Canyon looks as lush & beautiful as I remember but it's a shame your pleasure was a bit marred. We didn't try to go in as time was short so I don't know what it was like then. The Navajo culture was very evident tho & I have to say we loved it here

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Sep 9, 2009 at 2:09 AM

    White House Ruin looks like a miniature castle but the park itself does have quite a few great visual attractions! I can see why this one felt different after your previous park experiences. Excellent photos and comments as always though!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Aug 31, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    Are there still any archeologists working there? A former girlfriend of mine used to do volunteer work at archeological digs in Canyon de Chelly in the 1960s/70s, so I heard about that side of it at the time. Great photos! Too bad hiking is restricted.

  • alza's Profile Photo
    Aug 29, 2009 at 3:44 PM

    great natural beauty here! & very thoughtful comments from you. btw I'm sort of doing what you suggest about writing now. You're right... a year later, we're ready but don't feel like it so much :)

  • DoreenDe's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2009 at 10:45 AM

    Next time I would like to do the horse ride into this beautiful canyon, like Ingrid :)

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2009 at 10:41 AM

    i have got that feeling of not belonging in rotorua in nz - great page - beautiful amazing place - great pics

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2009 at 7:15 AM

    Ah, I can tell you that a horse ride into the canyon is spectacular!! I did it twice and both times I could gallop like John Wayne. Gorgeous photos, I love your b&w ones blended in :-)

  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
    Aug 5, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    At least I am the first in one thing - reading your new page :) Oh, the White House looks really impressive as well Spider Rock! Quite unusual that the park was free to enter as well the campground. But no beer allowed? This is rather strange ;)


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