Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Canyon de Chelly, AZ

Cottonwood Campground 3

We spent last night at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, in Chinle, AZ.  Cottonwood Campground is a National Park Service campground near the visitor’s center and there is no charge to camp here. Of course there are no hookups, either, but they have a dump station and drinking water to fill your tank. We were surprised at how nice the campground is. There are lots of trees and the sites are spaced far apart. Hard to believe they don’t charge anything. Also surprised by the number of people here, since we are pretty  much in the middle of nowhere in Navajo country.


There are 2 scenic drives along the north and south rims, and one hiking trail that goes to the bottom of the canyon. This is the only trail you can go down without an Indian guide, so that is what we took. What a spectacular hike.


For $15/hour you can drive your own jeep or 4wd into the canyon, or take a guided Indian tour, but I think hiking down is the best way to see it.P4270360

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At the bottom, there are ruins of the ancient Anasazi from 1000 years ago. Pretty amazing how they built their villages in the rock.





The overlooks from the scenic drive had some beautiful vistas, especially at Spider Rock, where these 800 foot “skyscrapers” just come out of the canyon floor.


Also interesting was this character who was painting something (didn’t look anything like what we were viewing, but he was a little different.)  Had a bicycle with a motor and somehow he carried this giant canvas on the bike.   


Left there this morning for a 200 mile drive to Page, AZ, again through Navajo land most of the way. Unfortunately it was fairly windy, and the landscape was nothing but dirt, so much of the drive looked like this.P4280046 The wind finally subsided and we made our way into Page and over the dam at Lake Powell. We ended up at Lone Rock Beach, which is actually in Utah. Camping is allowed on the beach, so here we are. Quite a lovely spot. And also free.


Of course the wind started up shortly after we arrived , so even though it’s warm and sunny, sitting out is not much fun with the blowing sand. We’re hoping it gets better as the evening wears on!

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