Canyon de Chelly – A Photo Essay

Canyon de Chelley

Canyon de Chelly © 2010 Bo Mackison

Canyon de Chelley National Monument is located in northeastern Arizona near the town of Chinle. There are over 2700 archeological structures and cliff dwellings in this area, though only a few have been made structurally sound to allow visitors. Only one trail is open to the general public, but there are numerous guides available for further explorations in the monument.

Shadow Photographers at Canyon de Chelley

Shadow Photographers at Canyon de Chelly © 2010 Bo Mackison

We had only a couple of hours to explore , and we did so from the Rim Road probably the most popular way to see the Monument, though truly one sees only a fraction of the Canyons from this vantage point. The next time I visit Canyon de Chelley, I will plan enough time to employ a native guide and truly see the wonders of this remarkable area.

Canyon de Chelley

Canyon de Chelly National Monument © 2010 Bo Mackison

This photo was taken from a trail off the South Rim Drive at Tunnel Lookout. Just barely visible is the bottom of the canyon with trees and a grassy pasture. Canyon de Chelly is unique among all the National Park units in that it is entirely in the Navajo Tribal Trust Land. The National Park Service has a partnership with the Navajo Nation to manage park resources and approximately forty Navajo families live within the boundaries of the National Monument.

Canyon de Chelley Landscape

Canyon de Chelly Landscape © 2010 Bo Mackison

The monument encompasses approximately 84,000 acres of lands located entirely on the Navajo Nation. The monument covers 131 square miles and encompasses the floors and rims of the three major canyons — Canyon de Chelly, Canyon del Muerto, and Monument Canyon. It is a vast area. See the tiny specks of blue in the photograph – two visitors at the lookout from which I had earlier taken the above photographs.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Sounds like Canyon de Chelley would be a very interesting place to visit.

  2. I don’t recall the availability of guided tours when I visited there many years ago, but that would be a wonderful adventure I would think!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      That is the only way park visitors can go into the interior except for driving the rim road and hiking one specified trail. The Navajo guides are well trained, reasonably priced, and with as many architectural and cultural artifacts in the vast park, it works quite well for all involved.

  3. I’ve been getting caught up with you today. It all looks so warm, wonderful, and (as always with you) beautifully photographed.

    I’m putting Canyon de Chelley on my list of places to visit. Thanks. 🙂

Leave a Reply