Welcome to my Secret Garden!

Thanks for coming here. I took these photographs during a recent trip to Canyon de Chelly. I put them on the web because the Canyon is a breathtakingly, unforgettably beautiful place. It is one of the wonders of the world. I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend a little time there, and this kind of good fortune is simply something one wishes to share with others.

Am I afraid that this might entice hordes of tourists to visit the Canyon and destroy its fragile beauty? No. Access to Canyon de Chelly is closely regulated by the Navaho Nation and the National Park Service. Visitors must be taken in by a licensed Navaho guide. If you wish to spend just a few hours in the Canyon you can go in sitting in the back of a small truck, on benches with 6 to a dozen other visitors. These are the so-called "shake and bake" tours. The name is accurate, since the unpaved road is quite rough and in summer the Canyon can be hot. If you want a smoother ride in an SUV or wish to stay longer you can hire the exclusive services of a guide. Some of the guides, or their families, own land in the Canyon and are willing to allow visitors to camp there. The rule, however, is that the visitor must always be under direct supervision of the Navaho guide.

The single exception to this rule is White House ruin, which you can walk down to, without a guide, over a short trail from the north rim of the Canyon. The White House is one of many dozens of Anasazi and Navaho ruins in Canyon de Chelly.

The relationship between the Navaho and European settlers has been violent and troubling. The history is complicated and this is not the place to recapitulate it, but we can say that after a period of forced exile the Navaho of Canyon de Chelly were allowed to return. The Canyon floor has been farmed for centuries and is still owned by the original families, many of whom still grow corn, alfalfa and other crops there.