Canyon de Chelly Hiking & Camping

Trip Length4 Days
Group Size4–12
Activity level
Starting from
$2,499 for REI Members
$2,749 for non-members
DeparturesSep 2024-Oct 2025

Descend into remote, magnificent Canyon de Chelly National Monument with a Navajo guide on this 4-day hiking adventure.

Discover a sacred desert landscape of enigmatic ruins and vaulting sandstone walls tattooed with petroglyphs. Join expert REI guides and a small group of fellow curious travelers in Phoenix and head for the Navajo Nation. Wander land strewn with giant petrified logs and pass through a painted desert in Petrified Forest National Park. View Spider Rock from the rim at Canyon de Chelly and marvel at this location that has seen human habitation for more than 4,000 years.

Descend slickrock trails to the canyon floor, where cottonwoods and peach trees green the banks of a serpentine waterway. Accompanied by a local Navajo guide, spend three days exploring Canyon de Chelly, Canyon del Muerto and Black Rock Canyon. Let native history, stories and lore connect you to the cultural importance of the land. Search for prehistoric petroglyphs. Stand in awe of pictographs, ancient cliff dwellings and iconic ruins, including the ruins of Antelope House, just yards from our campsite. Let the solitude and grandeur of this extraordinary place seep into your soul.

Hike into the heart of mysterious Canyon de Chelly National Monument and discover a landscape filled with tranquil riparian beauty and remnants of the indigenous cultures that have inhabited this region for over 5,000 years.

Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy a 4-day hiking adventure in remote Canyon de Chelly National Monument
  • Discover well-preserved rock art and ruin sites including iconic White House Ruins
  • Learn about native culture, history and folklore from our Navajo guide
  • Hike in Petrified Forest National Park and visit its painted desert
  • Camp under the star-filled Southwestern sky in comfy 4-person tents


This trip is rated Moderate [3].Participants should be comfortable with daily hikes between 2-9 miles with elevation gain/loss of up to 600'. Although there are not significant elevation changes on this itinerary (particularly when hiking on the canyon floor) the distances on Days 2 and 3 gives this a level 3 Moderate Activity designation.

Hiking trails are composed of dirt, sand and slickrock with some steep sections and exposed overlooks. The hike on Day 4, out of the canyon, requires walking up low-angle sandstone cliff faces and may be challenging for some individuals with knee or hip mobility issues. This trip is not suitable for those who are afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo.

  • Hiking

What's Included

One night hotel & two nights camping accommodations; guide leadership; round trip van transportation from/to Scottsdale, Arizona; meals as noted on the daily itinerary; all group camping equipment; park fees and local taxes.


Hotel, 1 night; Camping, 2 nights.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Canyon de Chelly Hiking & Camping

Itinerary Note:

Itinerary Note: There have been infrequent occurrences where flooding and vehicle access has kept us from camping within Canyon de Chelly. In the event this happens we have a tried-and-true alternative involving day-hikes into the canyon with up to 750' of daily elevation gain/loss, while being based out of the Thunderbird Lodge or camping on the rim.

Day 1

Visit Petrified Forest National Park and travel to Canyon de Chelly

Our trip begins in Phoenix, Arizona. We rendezvous at our host hotel before setting out to 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; the sight is 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.

* Please note that we are unable to arrange for guests to meet the group at Canyon de Chelly. For logistical reasons, guests should plan to start and finish their journey at our host hotel.

Day 2

Descend into the canyon's inner sanctum and hike among ancient ruins and rock art

Our day begins with a dramatic 550-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. This idyllic site sits near an Ancestral Puebloan ruin that boasts incredible artistic pictographs. All meals included.

Hiking: 8-9 miles, Elevation loss: 550'.

Day 3

Explore Canyon del Muerto and Black Rock Canyon with our local Navajo guide

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 known 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.

Day 4

Ascend from Canyon de Chelly to the plateau via a route used by ancient canyon inhabitants

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, Elevation gain: 600'. This hike requires walking up low-angle sandstone cliff faces and may be challenging for some individuals with knee or hip mobility issues. Transfer time: 6.0 hours total with multiple stops en route.

Itinerary map for Canyon de Chelly Hiking & Camping

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.

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What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Trip specifics may change over time. Reviews reflect the version of the trip that was active at the time the reviewer took it. Please review the itinerary as described above and call our team for any additional details.