While there are Native American ruins to be seen from overlooks, and guided tours that can take you to them, this National Monument (https://www.nps.gov/cach/index.htm) is really a geological site. The rock formations are amazing.
We went on the South Rim Drive, which offers better lighting in the afternoon and has seven overlooks. The North Rim Drive has better lighting before noon and has three overlooks.
To properly photograph everything you will need a long lens for the ruins and a wide angle lens for the canyons and rocks. I used the following lenses and got the photographs I wanted:
- Canon 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM)
- Canon 70-200mm f/4 L EF IS (USM)
If you want to get close shots of the ruins, without hiking down to them, you will probably need a 300mm-400mm lens, or a 2x teleconverter on a 200mm lens.
Canyon de Chelly has had people living there for almost 5,000 years. The people we call Native Americans lived here about the same time as they did elsewhere in the Four Corners region, between the late 1000’s A.D. and early 1200’s A.D. Most of the people had moved out of the area by the mid-1300’s A.D.
As we drove on South Rim Drive, we discovered several overlooks that became our favorites.
- Junction Overlook – Here you look deep into the canyon where you see two different ruins. One to the right and one to the left.
- White House Overlook – You have to walk over a rocky area that’s a little rough to get to the overlook, but you’re rewarded with great views of the canyon, and the ruins. There is a ruin on the canyon floor and another above it in an alcove. The pueblo on the canyon floor used to be high enough to reach the ruins in the alcove. It’s called White House because of the white plastered walls in a room in the alcove. This is the only ruin you can walk to without a guide.
- Spider Rock Overlook – As you walk toward the overlook, you are looking 1,000 feet (305 meters) down into the canyon. The first thing you will notice is Spider Rock, an 800 foot (244 meters) tall column of stone. This rock was of special interest to my wife, Linda-Ann. The Navajo believe that Spider Woman taught them how to weave, and Linda-Ann is a weaver. Spider Woman is supposed to live at Spider Rock. You can see several pueblo ruins from the overlook and a ruin at the base of Spider Rock.
Canyon de Chelly is a nice combination of geology and ruins, and well worth a visit.
Have you been here? What would you like to tell my reader about this location?