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White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly, AZ

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Guide 47 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Chinle
4.3 of 5 by 21
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,000 feet
Elevation Gain -500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5
Interest Ruins & Perennial Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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5  2018-09-04 Tortoise_Hiker
15  2018-07-13 TheNaviG8R
9  2018-03-31 chumley
21  2017-06-06 rcorfman
33  2016-07-29 DarthStiller
24  2015-05-02 Lucyan
44  2015-05-02
Canyon de Chelly via Spider Rock
9  2014-07-19 blueberry1222
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,262 map ( 21,474 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Navajo Nation Reservation
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:06am - 6:14pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
Few places offer the beauty found within Canyon de Chelly. It's taken me over a year to calm down and share the experience. After years of reading books and seeing the pictures in Arizona Highways I knew someday I would go.

You can go to Sedona and be wowed by all the vibrant colors. But only here does the subtle beauty blend so perfectly with the surrounding culture. The feeling was incomparable. Was it the natives plowing their fields. Possibly the baby lamb not over eighteen inches tall playing with the children. Or walking under the canopy of trees along the most touching canyon imaginable.

Standing on the edge, the hike down first appears daunting. Fear not as most should negotiate the short descent handily. Once on the canyon floor, the trail takes you on a stroll to the ruins. Anticipation builds with each step. The payoff being a full package of wow. The massive canyon wall cuts in near the base creating a large alcove to protect the ruins.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2000-01-28 joebartels
  • book
    area related
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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Can you go wrong with this one? What an amazing place!

I couldn't care less about the ruins, but the geology of the canyon is a wonder to itself, and the opportunity to hike down on this masterfully carved trail was the highlight of my day. I'd love to return and get a guide to lead me down some of the other trails that enter the canyon.
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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When I got to the White House Overlook, it was a no-brainer to do this Hike even though it was a warm 90+ Degrees...One simply cannot forego an Opportunity to see some of these Ruins up close and this is the only one accessible without hiring a Guide.

After taking a few Photos and doing some Searching around at the Top, I headed down the Trail...It was about 2:00 when I started, so over half of the Descent was in Shade, which was nice...The Camera was definitely working hard on this Hike. I would do this Hike even if there weren't Ruins, it's such a Beautiful Area!

Got down to the Ruins, took a few more Photos and took a little time for a Snack and then headed back up...Back up top and it was on to the next Overlooks...

Everything about this Area was totally worth the Short Hike down and the Ruins were very Cool. It was good to see them Close-up with my own Eyes rather than relying solely on the Camera... :)
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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NE Arizona tour
A 3-day Fall break trip to Navajo/Hopi land.

We spent an hour or so exploring the southern edge of Coal Mine Canyon (15mi south of Tuba City). What a fantastic place! Like stumbling across Bryce Canyon with no signs or fences. I wouldn't bring a dog or an 8-yr old.

Arrived at Navajo National Monument Sunday morning in time for the once-a-week Ranger guided tour to Betatakin Ruin. We (and 15 other well-geared hikers) were disappointed though when the hike was cancelled as the Ranger's helper didn't show up on time. This is another beautiful place and it would have been a perfect day for the long hike to Keet Seel - too bad the park is under-resourced. We walked the overlook trails which are well worth it..

Our first trip to Canyon de Chelly and we walked the White House Trail. This is a beautiful trail into a beautiful canyon - a little bit unfortunate that a wire fence keeps you well away from the ruin.

Monday morning we drove up First Mesa and took the Walpi walking tour. We were lucky to get there just in time to join the only tour of the day (done informally because it was a Hopi holiday). This is a tour more than a hike but we learned a lot of interesting things about Hopi history and modern life. If you have a few extra bucks buy some crafts from the residents.

Stopped at Homolovi on the way home. I was disappointed that the ruin wasn't heck of a lot more interesting than some of the local Perry Mesa Ruins but there was certainly a wider range of pottery types littering the ground.
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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Did this late in the day, arriving at the bottom about 6PM. It was cool and quiet, with only one other couple there. As I arrived a squall line went through. The temperature dropped and it started blowing and raining but 5 minutes later was sunny again.

There is nothing like being almost the only one down there, looking up at the ruins, with goose bumps on your arms. Fantastic!
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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We drove around and explored what we could of Canyon de Chelly. Went on the one day they don't have guides available, but we had a great time taking pictures anyway. Started at Spider Rock Overlook and made our way from there to each stop until the Massacre Cave Overlook. I don't remember there being too much to see except at Spider Rock, White House, and Antelope Ruins. It was pretty cold outside and the roads, although well-maintained, were still somewhat icy and snowy. Didn't spend too much time at any of the sites beyond those three.
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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What a beautiful hike. Loved it! With a group that wasn't as fast, and while waiting for them to make it back up the canyon wall heard some thunder, then rain started, then pea-sized hail. Didn't last too long, fortunately. The wind at the ruins was intense! Strongest I've ever had during a hike anywhere.
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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Photos are from all over Canyon de Chelly NM, not just from the trail. :wink:

I've heard so much about this place, that I knew I had to eventually had to swing by here. Decided to take a leasurely hike compared to what I usually do on the weekends. We hit all the overlooks on the north and south rim drives, with upper Canyon de Chelly being the most scenic esp the Spider Rock overlook. We did the short hike down into the canyon to the White House Ruins and had a sweet time soaking in the surroundings. I totally recommend to anyone interested to stop by here for the a day and prepare to be amazed. :D
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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In December my wife and I were walking around a local park with our backpacks on, conditioning for our vacation. We passed a man who asked, "Where are you going?" What a deep philosophical question, I thought. But I could tell he knew we were just practicing, so I told him we were preparing for a trip to Arizona.

"Canyon de Chelly," the stranger said.
"Oh yeah?"
"Canyon de Chelly," he repeated. "Spelled like the name Chelly, with a C-H, but pronounced 'Shay.' You have to go there, it's amazing."
"Oh yeah? We'll check it out."

You get advice from some of the strangest places. In this instance, it happened to be a stranger in county park in Independence, Missouri.

We stopped at Canyon de Chelly on our way out of AZ. It was totally worth the 3 or so driving hours out of the way!

Trailhead at 15:00, down to canyon bottom in about 25 minutes. The windswept rock is indeed amazing. The trail is good, no loose footings, and there's a good footbridge crossing the river (I was thinking we'd get our feet wet, but nope). Saw all the same sights everyone else has documented: old Navajo woman, sheep, stunning sun-bleached rock dwelling (this was late afternoon, mind you), beautiful rock sculptures in every direction.

We took some pictures, perused the merchandise tables set up near the shelter, then headed back. It was kinda funny coming out. Seems like locals enjoy the trail for exercise! We passed three or four Navajo families who were just there for the down-and-back walk (we saw them later up at the parking lot). It takes some of the mystique out of the experience, but that's healthy, too. One man's awe-filled adventure is another man's treadmill.
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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This is a must do hike if you go to Canyon De Chelly, and if you live in Arizona you have to go to Canyon De Chelly. It was a drop in altitude of approximately 500' and a fairly good trail all the way down. It had rained recently so the last half mile or so was a little messy because of mud and standing water. White House Ruins makes the entire trip worth it. You cannot get close to the ruins but they are still spectacular. They rival any ancient ruins I have seen thus far in Arizona. The hike out is not too bad even though it is mostly uphill. A person in fair physical condition should be able to handle the hike out without a problem.
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly
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A return visit to Canyon de Chelly has been in our plans for sometime now. Goal was to drive the 382 miles from our doorstep to the Cottonwood campground as soon as my daughter finished school on Friday afternoon. We managed to make camp that evening at 10pm on a beautiful moonlit night. Although not a true "wilderness experience" (unless you count all the wild dogs!), the campground was clean, had an unbeatable price (no fee, first come, first serve basis), and plenty of friendly people.

Our hiking plan was to experience as many of the inner canyon ruins as possible. We knew an authorized Navajo guide was a necessity. The camp ranger indicated we could arrange for a trail guide at the Thunderbird Lodge. We set off early Saturday to hire a guide only to be struck with what could best be described as "sticker shock" - $15 each per hour! With a 7hr hike and 3 in our group, the $315 fee was not within our budget. Our back-up plan to 4-wheel within the canyon was even quoted higher! So on to plan "C" and take the public White House Trail.

As back-up plans go, the White House Trail scenery is first rate and instantly overcame any disappointment! We proceeded through the tunnel at the top of the trail revealing sculpted sandstone reminiscent of Canyonlands Utah. The trail is well maintained allowing us to cover the 1 ¼ miles in about 30 minutes. The fall colours were just starting - cottonwoods in partial yellow. We had a leisurely lunch next to the ruins soaking in the sun and sights.

After White House Trail we continued along the south rim route to Spider Rock. A local rock artist caught our attention and a couple of purchases were made. Along the north rim we did meet with a local guide who offered to take us along a side trail to Antelope House Ruins. This side trail had many caves and arches hidden from view both at the top and bottom of the canyon. Our unexpected guide certainly left us with many colorful stories of Navajo life both today and from the past!

Permit $$

Navajo Nation Reservation
Navajo Permits & Services

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Flagstaff go east on I-40 to Highway 191. Go north on 191 to Highway 64. Turn east and drive 2.7 miles to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Follow South Rim Drive 6.4 miles to the White House Overlook. Park your car. Drop your jaw. Pass out from the energy zapping your body due to the sheer beauty of your surroundings.
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