Tips for Visiting Navajo National Parks
Arizona Travel News ( Press Release )
Thunderbird Lodge in Canyon De Chelly National Monument
Offers Tips for Visitors to Navajo Country
Chinle, Arizona, USA: December 29, 2003 - A trip to the Southwest is truly a
rich cultural experience, and the better the understanding of the
history and culture of the region, the better that experience will be.
Canyon de Chelly is unusual because the land is owned by the Navajo
tribe and the monument is operated by the National Park Service. Many
Navajo families continue to live within the monument's boundaries. The
canyon is also significant because it is very spiritual to the Navajo
people and was the site of several events that played a critical role in
The staff at Thunderbird Lodge in Canyon de Chelly offers these tips for
visiting the monument:
Do Your Research.
It's never been easier to learn about the Navajo
people and their culture. Go to your favorite Internet search engine and
you'll find plenty of information.
Stay on the Wagon.
Alcohol is illegal on the Navajo Reservation. You
will not find it any stores, restaurants or taverns.
Hire a Guide.
With the exception of hiking the White House Ruin trail,
travel in the canyons is permitted only with a park ranger or other
authorized Navajo guide. Visitors have the option of Thunderbird Lodge
tours, hiking, riding horses or traveling by permit with an authorized
guide in their own four-wheel drive vehicles.
Respect Private Property.
Unlike most national parks and monuments,
Canyon de Chelly features property owners who work the land and live
within the monument's borders. Of course, your guide will know the areas
Respect the Ruins.
Like many places in the Southwest, Canyon de Chelly
is home to 700-year-old ruins once inhabited by the Anasazi, or the
"Ancient Ones." Disturbing these ruins is illegal, disrespectful and
just plain wrong.
Respect the Dead.
Native peoples throughout the region do not speak of
the dead. Most guides know how to politely deflect this topic, but it is
best if visitors not bring it up at all.
Be a Good Listener.
Readers of Tony Hillerman's novels featuring Navajo
tribal policemen know that interrupting someone who is speaking is
considered a rude gesture among the Navajo. Be polite and listen. You'll
learn plenty in the meantime as well.
While all of these tips sound so serious, don't forget that
vacations are supposed to be fun. The Navajo are known for having a good
sense of humor, so don't leave yours at home.
About the Resort
Thunderbird Lodge features 74 modern rooms equipped with comfortable
beds, full bathrooms and cable television. The lodge sits on the site of
a trading post built in 1896, and its cafeteria-style restaurant is
located in the trading post's original building. The Thunderbird Lodge
gift shop and rug room offer some of the region's finest examples of
Native American jewelry, crafts and Navajo rugs as well as other
Thunderbird Lodge also offers authorized group tours in Canyon de Chelly
in six-wheel drive touring vehicles operated by experienced and
knowledgeable Navajo guides who explain about the canyon, one of the
most sacred as well as historically and culturally significant places in
the Navajo Nation. Guests see prime examples of Anasazi ruins,
pictographs, petroglyphs and the sites of confrontations between the
Navajo and the Spanish, Mexican and American governments.
During the winter, half-day tours leave from Thunderbird Lodge at 9 a.m.
and 1 p.m. and take visitors into the lower halves of both Canyon de
Chelly and Canyon del Muerto and last 3«« hours. Guests typically enjoy
an open-air ride, but during inclement weather the vehicles can be
covered with clear caps engineered by the lodge's maintenance staff.
Rates for half-day tours are $39.50 for adults and $30.50 for children
12 and under. During the winter, tours are conducted only if at least
six guests participate. For reservations, call 1-800-679-2473. For more
information on Canyon de Chelly National Monument and Thunderbird Lodge,
go to www.tbirdlodge.com.