After a quick visit to the National Monument Visitors Center we drove to the White House Ruins overlook and began walking the trail descending into the canyon to view the ruins. Like all good National Park Service trails that deal with elevation this one snaked down the side of the cliffs to the canyon floor. I (Marsha) was feeling the heat and elevation a bit and made it down three quarters of the way and then turned to walk slowly back up.
Ben and Harry successfully made it to the bottom, viewed the White House Ruins and returned to the canyon rim. Harry says: The trip down was pretty easy, save for my tired knees. Once we got to the bottom of the Canyon wall, the trail went through a pretty area with a small one room house and then went along a dried up riverbed until we got to the White House Ruins. There was a group of college geology students on a field trip writing down their observations -- plus a handful of Indian vendors selling their crafts.
This was our first view of ruins this trip and it was impressive. In general, although none of the ruins in Canyon de Chelly are as massive as in Mesa Verde, there are a lot of separate locations where there are cliff dwellings here. The pictures speak better than my uneducated words on this subject.
Photos of White House Ruins (placeholder)
After lunch we met up with our guide Ben from Antelope House Tours. This particular tour company had come highly recommended so we were psyched. We were not disappointed. We were the only ones on this three-hour tour. (Again the benefits of travelling before the season begins.) Ben (who is the father of the tour company owner) was born in the canyon and has lived there all his life. We were able to visit his current family compound nestled next to the Antelope House Ruins where his daughter made us fresh Navajo fry bread. Ben is a man of few words but the canyon tends to speak for itself and he did answer all our questions succinctly. Towering red sandstone cliffs rise from the canyon floor, which is verdant green with Cottonwoods and Willow. The four wheel drive vehicle sloshed through shallow water, jerked and shook while successfully fording deeper and faster flowing water and took us amazing close to Anazazi House Ruins, Caves, and Petroglyphs. An amazing afternoon.
Photos of Antelope House Tour (placeholder)