This is a modified version of ‘Planning Your Visit‘ information included in the National Park Service Guide.
The Navajo Nation has added the ‘Visiting Navajo‘ section right at the start. The first sentence of that is IMPORTANT. Canyon de Chelly, like the rest of the Navajo Nation, is on New Mexico time rather than Arizona! That can be confusing. My Garmin Fenix 5, which gets its time (when it can) from GPS, took it in its stride. But, for the first few hours I was never sure whether my Fenix 5 was right or wrong.
This guide, in photocopied black & white, is on the back of a b&w map of the Canyon — again taken from the National Park Service Guide, which, however, is in color.
They have this guide in the small Navajo Nation Office, adjacent to the ‘Thunderbird Lodge’, that you have to visit to get backcountry permits to enter the Canyon with a Navajo guide, either by jeep, horseback or on foot.
This is a wonderfully rewarding hike. It is also the ONLY hike to the bottom of the Canyon open to the public. For all other hikes (or trips, on horseback or ‘jeep) within the Canyon you need to be accompanied by a ‘certified’ Navajo guide and have a Backcountry Pass issued by the ‘Navajo Nation‘.
This is an easy hike! The biggest challenge is the heat. Check the numbers above. We waited till it was past 5pm to start because of the heat. We could have waited longer, but as we had expected there was a fleeting ‘storm’ later in the evening. Did not want to get caught in that.
When we got to the bottom (and the ‘White House’) around 5:50pm the last of the Navajo vendors were packing their jeep for the day. So we had the whole ruin to ourselves for about 45 minutes! That was special. That was actually a feature of this trip. Very few people. Most of the time we were the ONLY folks around. That is always nice.
I as you can see from the GPS map wandered a fair amount at the bottom, around the ruins. I also followed the dry stream bed back to the bridge. A family of horses were milling around.
This is not a hard hike by any standard. The last .25 mile is flat. You do the elevation quickly. I met a man who had done it 5-times, in the day, running parts of it. Impressive. I think I could have run it once. But, he was at least 20-years younger than I.