Tag Archives: horseback

The Raw, Rugged Grandeur Of ‘Canyon de Chelly’ — The Sweep Of The Canyon From Navajo ‘Long Walk’ Monument.

by Anura Guruge


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Anura Guruge Canyon de Chelly


From the same vantage point, i.e., the supposed ‘Navajo Long Walk’ memorial, as yesterday’s picture, but on a wider scale. You can see both the North Rim (foreground) & South Rim (further out) roads. The river bed in the center of the picture, as I explained yesterday, is the main entrance to the Canyon.


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by Anura Guruge

The Raw, Rugged Grandeur Of ‘Canyon de Chelly’ — Entrance To Canyon From Navajo ‘Long Walk’ Monument.

by Anura Guruge


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Entrance to Canyon de Chelly


This is what the entrance to Canyon de Chelly looks like from across the road — from a small hill. That is how you enter the Canyon by ‘jeep‘ or horseback. You can see the tire-tracks very clearly on what is really a dried up river bed. The ‘Junction’ where the Canyon splits into North and South is about 2-miles in from here.

I took this from the supposed ‘Navajo Long Walk’ memorial. It is a small tower of stone. I was told that locals build it over time by just putting stones on top of stones. I will show you that and talk about it in another post. Check out my link for the ‘Navajo Long Walk‘. Very sad. It started pretty close to the Canyon given that the Canyon lies in the very heart of Navajo land.


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by Anura Guruge

The Haunting History Of ‘Canyon de Chelly’ — The ‘First Ruins’, Close To Entrance.

by Anura Guruge


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Continuing the series on Canyon de Chelly but now on the historic side as opposed to its undeniable grandeur.

The name tells it all when it comes to these ruins and they are, as such, the second best known of the ruins, after the easily accessible ‘White House’ ruin. These ruins are prior to the ‘junction‘ when the Canyon splits into ‘North‘ and ‘South‘. It is about 45-minutes on horseback and about 10 by jeep.


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by Anura Guruge

The Haunting History Of ‘Canyon de Chelly’ — ‘Navajo Hunting On Horseback’ Petroglyph.

by Anura Guruge


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Continuing the series but now on the historic side that I started yesterday. Also please check out this Kokopelli post. This is close to the entrance, not far from the Kokopelli pictograph.


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by Anura Guruge

Canyon de Chelly: 4-Hour 6-Wheeler (Jeep) Tour With “Thunderbird Lodge Tours”.

by Anura Guruge


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In reality this is the ONLY way to see and get to know Canyon de Chelly. Going into the Canyon on horseback is fun (and we have done it twice) but you can’t cover as much ground and, from our experience, the guides that do horseback are not as ‘proficient’ as those on the ‘jeeps’. (But, there could be exceptions and we LUCKED out in that we got ‘Daniel Draper’ who has been doing jeep tours for 29-years). Yes, you can hike down to the ‘White House‘ (which we have also done twice) but you don’t get to see any of the key ‘pictographs‘ (painted) or ‘petroglyphs‘ (carved).

This was the second time I had done a ‘Thunderbird Lodge Tour‘ — albeit 19-years apart. The first time, in 1999, was in the BIGGER Korean-war era Army vehicles they used to have. But, then there was the infamous 2012 roll-over that (eventually) killed two. Everything changed after that — including the ownership of the iconic & historic ‘Thunderbird Lodge’. The 6-wheelers they use now are smaller and newer.

We lucked out — as was invariably the case during this entire 4-day trip to the Canyon (my 4th). Very few people. Most of the time, wherever we would be the only ones there. That is nice and highlights the trademark serenity of the Canyon (which is my favorite part).

We did not book a private tour. We just booked (in the morning) the 4-hour, 4pm (sunset) tour. We were told be there 20-minutes early.

Well it was just the two us, Teischan & I, and that was special. I, with extensive experience with Navajo, soon established a good rapport with Daniel — and I think he enjoyed it too, in that I was not a total novice when it came to the Canyon or the Navajo. We had such a good time that I invited Daniel and his two daughters for dinner with us (at ‘The Junction‘) and they accepted. We had a great time and the two, extremely talented daughters, regaled us with songs after the dinner.

The tour was good. We learnt a lot.

Totally recommend it. Yes, there are other tours. From what I can see they are roughly the same price, i.e., ~$70/person for 3-4 hours. But, I liked the tour we took.


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by Anura Guruge

Canyon de Chelly: Horseback Riding With “Justin’s Horse Rental”.

by Anura Guruge


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From 2015 When We Did A 2-Hour Ride.


Horseback riding in the Canyon is magical. It is so quiet and peaceful. We did a 2-hour ride 3-years ago (in 2015) and loved it. So, we were definitely going to do it again. And we did. Except this time we made it a 3-hour ride.

In 2015 we went with “Tso’s Horse Tours” — the first ‘compound’ you come to when you enter the Navajo area at the mouth of the Canyon. That worked out quite well for us and we went back to them. They are NOT doing horse tours this year.

Appears that in 2018 the ONLY company, permitted by the Park Service, to conduct horseback tours is Justin’s! Has to do with ‘insurance’ and the lack thereof.

All the Navajos are ‘related’ and Justin is supposedly an uncle of “Tso’s”.

We had no trouble with Justin or the guide he provided us, 29-year old, local Urwin Yazzie. We got a 2:50 minute tour for $140 and my horse ONLY try to roll over me ONCE! But, I was too quick for it. Luckily it was in DEEP sand so there was no damage and I kept kicking it away so it would not roll any further onto my body. It could have been serious, but it was not and I was cool.

The next day, Teischan and I did a 4-hour 6-wheel ‘Jeep’ tour with ’40-year’ old Daniel Draper. He knew much, much more about the Canyon. So, between the two tours we learnt a lot.

Definitely recommend horseback riding in the Canyon. All tours into the Canyon are expensive. Given a choice I would do horseback THOUGH, of course, you see (and learn) much less.


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by Anura Guruge