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. As we walk among the petrified logs and purplish-blue Bentonite “elephant skin” badlands of Blue Mesa, the surreal landscape makes us feel like we’re hiking on another planet. Continuing our journey north, we make a quick visit to Hubbell Trading Post. A National Historic Site, the trading post has been operating since 1878 and still offers native crafts and goods for purchase. Arriving at Canyon de Chelly in late afternoon, we set up camp for the evening near the canyon rim. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 1.5 miles with 300’ elevation gain/loss. Transfer time: 5.5 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: 9 miles with approx. 900’ elevation loss/400’ 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 sunrise, we break camp before hiking further up canyon into a remote area that few monument visitors ever experience. In this part of Canyon De Chelly, wild turkey, black bear and skunks outnumber the domestic animals that live here. After reaching a vast open section of the canyon, we walk between two pastures and into a side canyon where we begin our climb out. Like the Ancestral Puebloans, Hopi, and Navajo before us, we ascend a secret trail leading us back to the canyon rim. Topping out onto the pinyon pine and juniper-dominated plateau, we navigate a few shallow washes before reaching our waiting shuttle vehicle. En route back to Phoenix, we stop near the Mogollon Rim, a 200-mile-long escarpment forming the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, for a Mexican dinner feast. We plan to arrive back in Phoenix between 8-8:30 p.m. this evening. All meals included.
Hiking: 8 miles with 1,200’ elevation gain. Transfer time: 5.5 hours total with multiple stops en route.