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Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
265.00 ft (80.77 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.70 mi (9.17 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Canyon de Chelly is a unique national monument. It is jointly managed by the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation, and dozens of families own land in the canyon and have for generations lived at least part of the year down in the canyon growing crops and maintaining sheep, cattle and horses. Entrance to the canyon floor is very restricted. Essentially there is only one hike that can be done without a guide or permit, the White House Ruin Trail. All other access must be with a park ranger or a licensed Navajo guide. The guided hikes by the rangers are sporadic and infrequent, but they are free and a great bargain compared to the commercial Navajo guides. One of the most popular guided hikes is the Tunnel Trail hike down to the First Ruin.

Starting at the Tunnel Overlook on the South Rim Drive, the trail climbs down a slight grade to the top of a metal stairway. This marks the point beyond which a guide is required. The stairs and later long stretches of steps cut into the sandstone make the descent into the canyon very quick and fairly painless. Once down on the flat floor of the canyon, the hike is flat but made more difficult by stretches of deep sand. The hike passes several Navajo residences, which are very interesting, but photographing them is prohibited. The hike ends at the First Ruin and offers a fairly close-up view of the structures up in an alcove, but no access. There are some petroglyph sites on the south side of the canyon that are typically viewed on the return.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Unique chance to walk the floor of Canyon de Chelly.

Cons

Ranger (free) or Navajo guide ($) required. Hiking in deep sand for long stretches.

Trailhead Elevation

5,742.00 ft (1,750.16 m)

Highest point

5,742.00 ft (1,750.16 m)

Features

Guided tours
Historically significant
Geologically significant
Native artifacts
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

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