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Chelly - sign

Canyon de Chelly: A centuries old Navajo habitat

Canyon de Chelly (pronounced SHAY) is a national monument about 45 miles north of the Hubbell Trading Post just outside the town of Chinle, Ariz, which is about 90 miles from Gallup, N.M.

It’s located within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation, and its name is derived from the Navajo word “Tseyi,” which means “inside the rock.”

We’ve seen a lot of Canyons, but this one is among the Top 3. Canyon walls are 30 feet high at the entrance and rise to more than 1,000 feet further down canyon.

Chelly - floor

As they have for centuries, the Navaho people still live and farm in the wash below the rim.

Chelly - spider rock

This is 800-foot-high Spider Rock from the 1,000 foot rim.

Chelly - spider rock closeup

I wonder if anyone has filmed a commercial here?

Chelly - face rock
This is called Face rock.

Chelly - dust storm

Just after the above picture was taken, the wind, dust, lightning and rain started. We took shelter at this overlook and this was the view out the window.

The 120-mile ride home was interesting with 55 mph crosswinds and some near total brown outs from blowing sand. Its good to be back in the rig.

It costs nothing to visit the park, and besides the visitors center, guests can enjoy two rim drives, 10 scenic overlooks, and one hiking trail.

Chelly - overview

The north rim tour is best for morning photos, and the south rim is better in the afternoon, especially at sunset.

Due to Navajo rules, hiking on the canyon floor is restricted. Guests must be accompanied by either a park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide.

The park is open all year, and the visitor’s center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

There are two campgrounds located within the park, which require a fee to use.

For more information about Canyon de Chelly, visit

About John Huggins

John Huggins is a retired Navy Electronics Technician Chief. He traded the Navy adventure for a job in manufacturing quality assurance in 1986, and traded that job for the RV adventure in early 2005. He and his wife, Kathy, have traveled the nation chronicling their adventures at Living the RV Dream. They have authored several books and also produce a weekly podcast about the RV lifestyle.

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