Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Rugged beauty and ancient history, The Canyon de Chelly National Monument often reminds visitors of the Grand Canyon with its rugged canyon lands that stretch for miles. This unique national monument spans almost 84,000 acres of remote wilderness and tribal lands in northeastern Arizona, at a point where the Canyon del Muerto and the Canyon de Chelly converge. With its signature red canyon walls towering over 1,000 feet above the base of the canyon, visitors to Canyon de Chelly National Monument are captivated by the stunningly rugged natural beauty of the area.

Canyon de Chelly

Once home to ancient Anasazi

In addition to this area’s amazing beauty, the lands are known for being one of the longest continuously inhabited areas on the continent. Canyon de Chelly today is largely the home territory for a thriving Navajo Nation community. With much of the land owned by the Navajo Tribal Land Trust, Canyon de Chelly is unique among other national parks and monuments in the United States. Prior to the Navajo people occupying the lands, other tribes including the ancient Anasazi inhabited the area. As you tour Canyon de Chelly, you will come across centuries’ old cave dwellings, ruins, and other evidence of the lands’ residents spanning across thousands of years of history.

Perfect day trip from Flagstaff

This national monument is situated in a perfect location for a day trip from Flagstaff, Arizona located about three hours away. The area is also easily reached from Gallup and Farmington, New Mexico, both under a two hours’ drive. With a day trip from any of these locations, you can enjoy a full day of short hikes and scenic drives that give you a wonderful look at the lands’ rich history and stunning landscapes.

South Rim Drive

The South Rim Drive will take you approximately two hours to complete and covers 37 miles. There are various points on the South Rim Drive where you will want to get out and explore on foot, including the overlook for Spider Rock and the White House Ruin Overlook.

White House Ruin Overlook
White House Ruin Overlook

North Rim Drive

You can also take the North Rim Drive, which will take you about two hours to complete and covers a distance of 34 miles. On the North Rim Drive, you can visit the Canyon del Muerto overlook, the Lodge Ruin, the Antelope Ruin, the Mummy Cave Ruin, and Massacre Cave. At many of the stops on both scenic routes, you will have the option of taking short hikes to see many of the landmarks up close.

Antelope Ruin
Antelope Ruin

Activities

Canyon de Chelly National Monument also offers a variety of activities for the more adventurous visitors. Two unique campgrounds are located on the grounds offering primitive campsites, group campsites, trailer and RV sites, and hogan rentals. You can also explore the lands more in-depth with a Navajo guide. With a Navajo guide, you can go on a backcountry adventure on foot or tour the lands on Jeep or a four-wheel, all-terrain vehicle. Keep in mind that a Navajo guide is required to explore the backcountry in any fashion.

With its rich history spanning across thousands of years of history coupled with its stunningly beautiful landscape, the Canyon de Chelly National Monument is not to be missed!

Directions From Flagstaff, Arizona

Canyon de Chelly is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Chinle. Arizona just west of the monument. Take Interstate 40 East for about 138 miles to Chambers through Holbrook, Arizona. This route will take past the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. At Chambers, take US Route 191 North and then take Navajo Route 7 East to Chinle.

The round trip from Flagstaff to Chinle is about 430 miles. There are a few hotels in Chinle and a wider selection of Hotels in Holbrook. If your home-base will be in Flagstaff, see Flagstaff Hotels. Also, consider Flagstaff Bed and Breakfasts.

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