canyon de chelly: the white house trail

At Canyon de Chelly’s visitor center, the ranger there suggested I do the White House Trail close to 5:00 p.m. because I’d be in the shade from the canyon walls when I came back up.  I took her advice as well as I could, saving the 2.5 mile round trip hike for the end of my day.  I still had to drive back to Gallup, New Mexico when I finished here, so I started earlier than she suggested, at 3:45 p.m.

The White House Trail is the only trail visitors can take into the canyon without a permit or an authorized Navajo guide. It takes about 2 hours to do the round-trip hike.

At the White House Overlook, I looked down to the deep canyon below and tried to decide if I really wanted to do this on my own.  I squinted, looking for other people on the trail.  When I saw a few clusters of people, I decided to do it. I was so happy I did!


view from the White House Overlook


view from the White House Overlook

Before I started the hike, I encountered a Native American man with a bandana over his face.  He was holding tight to a powerful-looking pit bull; the dog was in a harness and it seemed the man was having some trouble holding on to it. I hate pit bulls and could only think of that poor girl who was practically eaten recently by her own two pit bulls.  I was determined to keep my distance from the man and his dog, so I made sure they were well ahead of me before I started my descent.


view from the White House Overlook

Most of the trail is carved into the cliff face, much like I imagine the Grand Canyon must be.  I passed through two tunnels carved through the rock, some steps, and some sandy areas.  At one point on the trail, the man with the pit bull stopped; by then some of his family had joined him. I had no choice but to walk by at close range.  I didn’t like it, but I made it past without incident and hightailed it down the trail to keep distance between him and myself.


Walking down the White House Trail


Descending into the canyon


descending along the rock face


the trail down


views from the trail down


views from the trail

When I got to the canyon floor, I walked over a bridge and on jeep tracks to the White House Ruin.  Ancestral Puebloans built and occupied this place about 1,000 years ago.  It is named for the long, white plaster wall in the upper dwelling.


The White House Ruin

The ruins were beautiful up close, extensive and well-structured.


The White House Ruin


in the canyon with the cottonwoods


The White House Ruin


in the canyon

After lingering here for a bit, I made my way back up the trail to the top.  Luckily I never saw the man with the pit bull again.


heading back up

It was a gorgeous walk all around.  The views were magnificent, and it was shady as I climbed back up.


going back up the canyon wall


the White House Trail


view back down


the canyon view from the top

I was so glad I did the hike, despite my initial misgivings and fears.  What a fabulous hike!

And of course, I got my sticker and cancellation stamp. 🙂


my sticker and cancellation stamp

Private vendors at Canyon de Chelly offer hiking, back-country camping, horseback, and 4-wheel-drive vehicle tours into the canyon with an authorized guide.  Sadly, I didn’t have time to take one of these tours, but I wish I had.

*Steps: 18,854, or 7.99 miles*

*Wednesday, May 16, 2018*


On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.

This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: La Rábida and Muelle de las Carabellas.