This morning we drove northwest back to Arizona with the Jeep to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. We had been to this National Monument several years ago but it was wintertime and there was not much activity. We drove around the rim at that time but we wanted to take a tour into the Canyon. To enter the Canyon you must have an Indian guide except in one small area, the white house, where you can hike from the rim. Today we hoped to be able to take that tour into the Canyon. Stopping at the Visitor’s Center we inquired about Canyon tours and were given a list of tour operators but no recommendations and we would need to call the phone numbers provided and arrange the tour. The Thunderbird Lodge Tour, we were told, was a group tour on their vehicles at the cost of $57.22 per person for half day and we would need to go to the Lodge and purchase tickets. So we opted to do the tour through the Lodge. We got our tickets about 11:30am for the tour at 1pm. We did drive up along the rim and ate our lunch we had brought along. Then at 1pm we were back to the Lodge to board the the truck with an extended bed equipped with seats. There were 13 people on the tour. Our tour guide, Dave, drove us through the Canyon on very challenging terrain that consisted of 8-10 inches of sand, 4 wheel drive was needed and used most of the way. We were so glad that we didn’t arrange a tour taking our Jeep with a guide. Petroglyphs and pictographs and cliff ruins were pointed out along the way and an explanation of what the origins and meaning may have been- different Indian tribes living in this area left their markings. This area remains in the Navajo Nation Territory and is still inhabited by these people. In the summertime, people move down into the Canyon from up along the rim and farm the land raising vegetables. At several stops there were vendors selling jewelry, pottery and other Indian wares. After 4 hours and a rather exciting ride (Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride??) we returned back to the Lodge and our personal vehicles.
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