Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Canyon de Chelly Viewpoint?

I took many photos at Canyon de Chelly near Chinle, Arizona, and, as I review them, I am even now more amazed at the grace and beauty I experienced last Saturday afternoon. Instead of posting some of the more well-known scenes, I decided today to show some detail that may not appear into the numerous sites which promote this historic location.

At first I thought that possibly the effort to reach this isolated spot in the heart of Navajo country in Northeastern Arizona contributed to its mystique, but now I don't think so. This quietly dramatic, natural setting exuded a sacred energy which, by its sheer simplicity, eclipsed, in my opinion, the power of the Grand Canyon. Here, within its rocks, were the remains of homes and wall paintings of early peoples that reminded me of the once living and whose voices I easily imagined carried by the wind.

The first photo, taken through a rock window, shows a hogan on the canyon floor used today by sheep or goat herders perhaps during cold weather. Navajos use the land for grazing and for recreational horseback riding. It is an organic part of the reservation and not banalized as a separate entity defined by gates, fees, and concession stands, which is typical of national park status.

It is early Spring here and many cacti are in bloom. Creeks are gurgling with snow run-off and trees show signs of new leaves. In this environment of wildly fluctuating temperature and fine red dusty sand, adaptation takes so many forms. I included the second and third photo to add a touch of color which might help convey the tenacity of the plants I found along the 2 1/2 mile trail.

The last photo looking East is purely to let your eyes and mind explore a small section of this glorious place. Perhaps you will find a painting drawn near a crevice or by a cave entrance. Will it be of an eagle or a coyote or merely a puzzling symbol reflecting an innermost thought? Only you will know!


  1. Hi, Lee...nice to hear from you and to know that you're safely back in the States! Beautiful country. I graduated from Arizona State Univ...one of my favorite courses was an Indian history course taught by a professor married to the daughter of a Navajo medicine man!

    Best wishes, as always!

  2. I didn't think it was possible for you to top yesterday's post, but somehow you outdid yourself today! I'm awestruck, almost to the point of tears. It isn't easy to put into words what I'm feeling. I clicked on each of the photographs and enlarged them--something I haven't done with all of them.

    I love the one of the cactus in bloom. I don't know what kind it is...and don't really care at the moment either. I can feel the sacredness of the Canyon de Chelly in your words.

  3. It's strange how you can hear echos from the past in a place like this. I understand, to a small extent, how people believe these places to be mystical. You really can "feel" spirits.

  4. This area is really striking, and the world would be so much poorer without scenery like this and places were a person can go where they can feel small in such a wilderness. You composed each scene beautifully, and colors are spectacular. Likewise the shapes. I also love the cactus and its yellow fruit or flowers.

  5. In your post today I felt a real passion for the beauty you were experiencing, that in spite of the other wonderful sights and places you have been to over the past few months, somehow this touched you in a way that was different and perhaps more meaningful. Magnificent captures! Such breathtaking beauty. I'm very happy for you to be able to experience this on the last leg of your very unique journey!


  6. It is strange, I imagined hogans to be smaller.

    You are in a land of beauty, your own country, with maybe the best people to guide you around it and its meaning.

    Thank you for your comments.