Home > Black and White Photo Gallery > Canyon de Chelly

White House Ruins, Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly is a deceptively beautiful, somewhat mysterious spot near Chinle, in far northeast Arizona.

The canyon is home to hundreds of well-preserved Anasazi ruins. It is also inhabited by a number of present-day Navajo, whose families have lived there for generations, cultivating crops on the canyon floor and raising sheep and goats.

In 1863, during the campaign of Kit Carson to round up the Navajo and send them to the barren reservation at Bosque Redondo in New Mexico (the Long March), holdouts considered the canyon their last retreat. Carson, reluctant to enter the unscouted depths of the canyon, observed it for days from above before sending soldiers in. About 300 Navajos, taking refuge atop a rock formation called Fortress Rock, endured a lengthy siege and were never captured.

While you can photograph the White House Ruins from an overlook amid Navajos selling arts and crafts, you must hike down a winding trail to the canyon floor to experience it fully.

At the stream below the ruins, watch for the Navajo woman herding her goats.

Once there, take your time. Sit in the grass under the shade of ancient trees, eat lunch from your backpack and listen to the sounds echoed from the 1,000-foot sandstone walls.

This shot was taken in March 2005.

< Back to Gallery