Massacre Cave is the site of a bloody murder between the Spanish and the Navajo in 1805. While the Navajo men were away hunting the Spanish the attacked the remaining Navajo in Del Muerto canyon. Children, old men and women spotted the raiding party and took refuge in what is now known as Massacre Cave, high up in the 1000 ft canyon wall and inaccessible from above. The Spaniards located them from the rim above and began a hail of bullets. Over 115 Navajo were killed. There are still marks on the walls of the cave left by richochetting rifle bullets. Some of the Spaniards made the hard climb up from below. In one of the hand to hand battles which followed, a Navajo woman pushed a Spanish soldier backwards off the ledge and fell with him to death on the rocks below.
The Legend of Spider Woman
Spider Woman possessed supernatural power at the time of creation, when Dine (Navajo) emerged from the third world into this fourth world.
At that time, monsters roamed the land and killed many people. Since Spider Woman loved the people, she gave power for Monster- Slayer and Child-Born-of-Water to search for the Sun-God who was their father. When they found him, Sun-God showed them how to destroy all the monsters on land and in the water.
Because she preserved their people, Dine (Navajo) established Spider Woman among their most important and honoured Deities.
She chose the top of Spider Rock for her home. It was Spider Woman who taught Dine (Navajo) ancestors of long ago the art of weaving upon a loom. She told them, "My husband, Spider Man, constructed the weaving loom making the cross poles of sky and earth cords to support the structure; the warp sticks of sun rays, lengthwise to cross the woof; the healds of rock crystal and sheet lightning, to maintain original condition of fibres. For the batten, he chose a sun halo to seal joints, and for the comb he chose a white shell to clean strands in a combing manner." Through many generations, the Dine (Navajo) have always been accomplished weavers.
From their elders, Dine (Navajo) children heard warnings that if they did not behave themselves, Spider Woman would let down her web- ladder and carry them up to her home and devour them!
The children also heard that the top of Spider Rock was white from the sun-bleached bones of Dine (Navajo) children who did not behave themselves!
One day, a peaceful cave-dwelling Dine (Navajo) youth was hunting in Dead Man's Canyon, a branch of Canyon de Chelly. Suddenly, he saw an enemy tribesman who chased him deeper into the canyon. As the peaceful Dine (Navajo) ran, he looked quickly from side to side, searching for a place to hide or to escape.
Directly in front of him stood the giant obelisk-like Spider Rock. What could he do? He knew it was too difficult for him to climb. He was near exhaustion. Suddenly, before his eyes he saw a silken cord hanging down from the top of the rock tower.
The Dine (Navajo) youth grasped the magic cord. which seemed strong enough, and quickly tied it around his waist. With its help he climbed the tall tower, escaping from his enemy who then gave up the chase.
When the peaceful Dine (Navajo) reached the top, he stretched out to rest. There he discovered a most pleasant place with eagle's eggs to eat and the night's dew to drink.
Imagine his surprise when he learned that his rescuer was Spider Woman! She told him how she had seen him and his predicament. She showed him how she made her strong web-cord and anchored one end of it to a point of rock. She showed him how she let down the rest of her web-cord to help him to climb the rugged Spider Rock.
Later, when the peaceful Dine (Navajo) youth felt assured his enemy was gone, he thanked Spider Woman warmly and he safely descended to the canyon floor by using her magic cord. He ran home as fast as he could run, reporting to his tribe how his life was saved by Spider Woman!
Explore One of the Most Unique and Fascinating Places in North America - Canyon De Chelly
4x4's - Hiking - Overnight Camping
Inhabited since 2500 B.C., Canyon de Chelly and del Muerto shelter hundreds of ancient dwellings, many poised on sandstone ledges. The major ruins in Canyon de Chelly and del Muerto include the White House, Mummy Cave, Sliding House, Antelope, First, Junction and Standing Cow. Other ruins are found out of the park in the lesser known canyons of Painted Cave, Three Turkey and Little White House canyon. As well, thousands of ancient petroglyphs and pictographs grace the canyon walls, left behind by the canyon's previous inhabitants over the centuries.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument was established April 1, 1931 as a unit of the National Park Service and is located in northeastern Arizona, within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. The monument covers 131 square miles and encompasses the three major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument.
Map of The National Monument
Relief Map of The Canyons
The canyons were home to the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (also called Anasazi) and Diné or Navajo. The Navajo continue to inhabit and cultivate the canyon floor to this day.
Canyon De Chelly lies in the heart of the land of the Navajo between the Four Sacred Mountains. This is a very sacred and beautiful place for the Navajo. It is a place where all the life giving sources are abundant. For the Navajo and others, it is a place of great peace where important lessons can be learned and great strength and power can be found. On the top of Canyon De Chelly is one of the places the Navajo Holy Ones first set their foot. This is a very holy place. It is here within the canyon that the Holy Ones taught the Navajo how to live.
A spectacular geologic feature is Spider Rock, a sandstone spire that rises 800 feet (240 m) from the canyon floor at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon. Spider Rock is home to the Navajo being - Spider Woman who possessed supernatural powers at the time of creation, when Dine (Navajo) emerged from the third world into this fourth world. The Legend of Spider Woman
Canyon de Chelly is unique among National Park service units, as it consists entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land that remains home to the Navajo canyon community that have lived there through many generations. Access to the canyon floor is restricted, and visitors are allowed to travel in the canyons only when accompanied by a park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide. The only exception to this rule is the White House Ruin Trail.
The Long Walk of the Navajos
In the 1860's, after years of conflict between the US government and the Navajos, the Navajos struck back when the US troops were reduced during the outbreak of the Civil War.
The US government sent Colonel Kit Carson to settle the uprising. His mission was to gather the Navajo together and move them to Fort Sumner on the Bosque Redondo Reservation. When the Indians refused to move and hid in the Canyon de Chelly, he began a scorched earth policy campaign destroying crops and lifestock, burning villages and killing people until he eventually starved the Navajo into submission in 1864, Carson ordered the destruction of their property and organized the Long Walk to the Bosque Redondo reservation, already occupied by Mescalero Apaches, longtime enemies of the Navajo.
8,500 men, women and children were marched 400 miles from northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico to Bosque Redondo. Walking in harsh winter conditions for almost two months, about 200 Navajo died of cold and starvation. Many more died after they arrived at the barren reservation.
Bosque Redondo was a disaster, there were problems with drinking water, sanitation and disease. The land was not suitable for agriculture. Finally after three long years, the government acknowledged the failure of camp and the surviving Navajos were allowed to return to their land hungry and in rags.
The Navajo Fortress
Navajo Fortress was used as a refuge throughout the period of Spanish and American military actions against the Canyon people. On the east side, not visible from the overlook, is a trail leading to the top of the fortress from the canyon floor. At a number of places, log poles which still stand, were used to connect the lower levels with otherwise inaccessible sections directly above. As the Navajos climbed, the pole were pulled up behind them. Also, located at strategic spots, are small rock walls behind which retreating Navajos hid while hurling rocks on intruders attempting to follow. Similar structures are found on the top of the fortress. Under the shelter of night, Navajos would sometimes sneak down and escape from the area or gather food and water for their people waiting above. Since the Carson campaign, the fortress has not been required as a defensive stronghold by the Navajo people.
Canyon de Chelly
Ancient Canyon Tours
Private 4x4 Jeep Tours into Canyon De Chelly
or Canyon Del Muerto
3 hour tour
1- 2 people $150.00
3 people $175.00
4 people $200.00
$50 per hour after 3 hours
3 hours minimum
$40 an hour
Max 10 people per guide
Over 10 people, an additional guide is needed
Bring gear for backcountry hiking
$40.00 an hour
Maximunm of 10 people per guide
$30.00 overnight guide fee
$50.00 land fee per night
Prepare gear for back country camping
Call or email for more information
928-380-1563 or 928-349-6185
Call Box 2999 Chinle, Arizona 86503 (928) 349-6185
Moderately and Strenuous terrain, lower canyon are 3 - 4 hours, and higher canyon are 4 - 9 hours. Trail conditions can change due to weather, at anytime.
The Navajo Reservation observes Daylight Saving Time.
" Please check your time."
Ancient Canyon Tours is a Navajo Owned Business.
Permits issued by Permits Issued by Navajo Nation Park Recreation Department must be signed by group leader and guide. Tours begin when the permit is signed and ends when group is out of Canyon De Chelly. Without this permit you cannot enter the Canyon. The only trial open to the public is White House Trail. All guides are authorized by the Navajo Nation Park Recreation Department.
Navajo Nation Park and Recreation Department: Charges a $2 fee, per person, and per day.
No Pets Allowed in the Park.