Canyon de Chelly Hiking & Camping

Canyon de Chelly Hiking & Camping

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Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 4-12
Difficulty
3

Starting from

$1,699

for REI Members

$1,874 for non-members

Departures

May 2019-Oct 2019

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 otherworldly purple-blue badlands of Blue Mesa in Petrified Forest National Park. Pause at a trading post active since 1878. Camp on the rim of Canyon de Chelly, marveling at how sunset light seems to transmute the red-orange walls into gold. Humans have lived here for over 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.

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 Hubbell Trading Post
  • Camp under the star-filled Southwestern sky in comfy 4-person tents

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Participants should be comfortable with daily hikes between 2–9 miles with elevation gains/losses of up to 1,500'.

Hiking trails are composed of dirt, sand, and slickrock with some steep sections and exposed overlooks.

  • Hiking

What's Included

Three nights camping accommodations; guide leadership; round trip van transportation from/to Scottsdale, Arizona; all meals beginning with lunch on Day 1 through dinner on Day 4; beverages including coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate; all group camping equipment; park fees and local taxes.

Accommodations

Camping, 3 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Hike the otherworldly Blue Mesa and travel to Canyon de Chelly.

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.

Day 2

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

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.

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 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.

Day 4

Ascend from Canyon de Chelly to the plateau on a hidden trail, dine by the Mogollon Rim and return to Phoenix.

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.

Canyon de Chelly Hiking & Camping Departures 2019

Adventure Expert

Andy

Canyon de Chelly is truly one of the Southwest’s hidden treasures. Its remote location, tranquil beauty, vast number of Native American ruins, and sacred standing in Navajo lore make it an incredibly rewarding destination to visit and explore.