Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

The National Park Service - charged with the care of our national parks and monuments

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, one of America's most-visited national monuments, is inside Navajo Tribal Trust Land, remains in the ownership of the Navajo Nation, and is home to the canyon community.  The Monument is administered by the NPS.  The Monument is located in northeastern Arizona near Chinle, 3 miles east of US191.  The park's distinctive geologic feature, Spider Rock, is a sandstone spire that rises 750 feet (229 m) from the canyon floor at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon (the top of it is in the center of the banner photo).  Spider Rock can be seen from South Rim Drive.  According to traditional Navajo beliefs the taller of the two spires is the home of Spider Grandmother (creator of the world in Native American religions).  It is one of the longest continuously inhabited areas in North America, and preserves ruins of the early tribes that lived in the area, including Ancestral Puebloans and Navajo.  There are no entrance fees to visit the overlooks or hike the White House Trail; canyon guides may charge fees.

Canyon de Chelly long served as a home for Navajo people before it was invaded by forces led by future New Mexico governor Lt. Antonio Narbona in 1805.  In 1863 Col. Kit Carson sent troops to either end of the canyon to defeat the Navajo population in the canyons.  The resulting devastation led to the surrender of the Navajos and their removal to Bosque Redondo, New Mexico.  They were returned to their lands in 1868.

The name chelly is a Spanish borrowing of the Navajo word tséyiʼ, which means "canyon" (literally "inside/within the rock").  The Navajo pronunciation is [tséɣiʔ].  The Spanish pronunciation of de Chelly [deˈtʃeʎi] was adapted into English, apparently through a French-like spelling pronunciation, and now English pronunciation: /dəˈʃeɪ/ də·shā′. 

Private companies charge fees for canyon tours, and most special events require a Special Use Permit.  Canyon tours are offered with hiking, by horesback, and in jeeps.  Its area is 131.0 sq mi (339.3 km2) and features three major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument.  The canyons were cut by streams with headwaters in the Chuska mountains just to the east of the Monument. 

The Photo Gallery begins with an 1873 black and white photo by Timothy H. O'Sullivan and a 1904 monochrome by Edward S. Curtis, followed by thirteen color photos in the monument and has an auto-show of the photos.

Monument Map identifies Indian Route 7 from US191 at Chinle to the monument and the roads around the monument inside the Navajo Nation.