Our trip begins in Phoenix, Arizona. We rendezvous at our host hotel at 7:30 a.m. and set out for remote Canyon de Chelly National Monument. As we travel across Arizona to the Navajo Nation, we stop along the way to explore Petrified Forest National Park and get up close and personal with the giant logs and their amazing rainbow colors. Traveling further in the park we view the Painted Desert with its multicolored banded hills on display before us. Arriving at Canyon de Chelly in late afternoon, we observe famous Spider Rock rising over 800? from the canyon floor. Not only spectacular but also the core of many Navajo legends. We spend the night at a lodge inside the park. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 1 mile with minimal elevation gain/loss. Transfer time: 6 hours total with multiple stops en route.
Our day begins with a dramatic 600-foot descent along dirt and slickrock trails to the floor of Canyon De Chelly. At canyon bottom, we stop at White House Ruins, an Ancestral Puebloan fortress and one of the most iconic ruins in the monument. After our visit to this renowned archeological site, we begin our hike into the canyon?s inner sanctum. Navigating some deep sand and creek crossings, our stamina is tested as we make our way to tonight?s secluded campsite in neighboring Canyon del Muerto. The sheer canyon walls, ruins, and hundreds of pictographs left behind by ancient cultures connect us to the natural beauty and human history of this unique place. At day?s end, we settle into our serene campsite on a Navajo family?s private land. The idyllic site provides access to our own cave, an Ancestral Puebloan ruin, incredibly artistic pictographs, and the convenience of a nearby bathroom. All meals included.
Hiking: 8-9 miles with approx. 550? elevation loss/minimal elevation gain.
We explore Canyon del Muerto today and experience life as it must have been like centuries ago. After a relaxing brunch and visit to nearby Antelope House Ruins, we head into an enormous side canyon know as Black Rock Canyon. Stunning views and incredible tales, like the story of Navajo Fortress, will punctuate our hike and allow us to bond even more deeply with this sacred land and its former inhabitants. We hike past half-wild livestock, original Navajo hogans (dwellings), and marvel at the log ?ladders? that allowed the native people to evade European invaders. Our Navajo guide explains how Canyon Del Muerto got its name and how bee plants allowed its early inhabitants to thrive. Back at camp this evening, we enjoy dinner with our fellow explorers as the crystalline desert light gently fades on the canyon walls. All meals included.
Hiking: 6-8 miles with minimal elevation gain/loss.
Rising with the sun, we break camp before hiking down Canyon Del Muerto. In this part of Canyon De Chelly wild turkey, black bear, and skunks outnumber the domestic animals that live here. After crossing the Canyon Del Muerto wash, or "arroyo" as it?s called in this part of the country, we enter a stand of bright green cottonwood trees and soak up the shade before our climb out. Like the Ancestral Puebloans, Hopi, and Navajo before us, we ascend the Bare Rock Trail toward the canyon rim. Using the Moqui steps, which were carved directly into the rock by ancient canyon inhabitants, we follow an improbable looking path upwards to the rim, enjoying spectacular views along the way. Topping out onto the pinyon pine and juniper-dominated plateau, we navigate a few shallow washes before reaching our waiting shuttle vehicle. We plan to arrive back in Phoenix between 6:30-7:30 p.m. this evening. All meals included.
Hiking: 4 miles with 600? elevation gain. Transfer time: 6.0 hours total with multiple stops en route.