Part 2: Navajo Nation Weekend Drive – Canyon de Chelly North Rim

Ready for part 2? Well, let’s get going. On our last day at Canyon de Chelly, Joe and Roger had to take off for Flagstaff, leaving the North Rim for Tyson, Adam, Jouhl and me. Here’s one last group shot from the day before:


After breakfast, we entered the canyon again.


Tyson and Adam took the lead, and we covered some pretty entertaining roads! This caused Tyson to dig out the Go-Pro.


Here’s the Antelope House Overlook.


One more group photo: Tyson, Me, Jouhl, and Adam.



Next stop, Mummy Cave…


Here’s a photo of the same area taken back in 1940 (from the visitor center).



I was able to capture this little hogan several hundred feet below with my zoom lens. Looks like it’s still in use today.


The scenery was slightly different on this end, but just as impressive.


And, here are the ruins of this rim.


Looks mighty cozy!


Each stop along the way, we encounted vendors selling more handcrafted jewelry and some sand paintings. The weather was just as nasty as the day before, so the vendor(s) were comfortably ensconced in their vehicles awaiting customers.


From here, Tyson and Adam headed back towards Phoenix, and Jouhl and I hit the trail for home. Along the way, we’d travel through Window Rock, AZ (The Navajo Nation Capital); and Gallup, NM. Window Rock, or Tségháhoodzání, is a small town of about 3,000 at the 2010 census. Just to name a few, The Navajo Nation Council, Zoological and Botanical Park, and Najavo Nation School District reside here. The name comes from a major local landmark. Can you guess what that is? Yup, a large sandstone rock formation with a hole. 


The area is beautiful, but there wasn’t as much infrastructure as I was expecting.


Not much at all…


And what little there was, it didn’t look very polished.


We made our way to the park to see the actual “window rock.”




Here’s a glimpse of the Nation’s capital.


And here’s the rock. The temperature was quite chilly, so there was no desire to hike to the center of it.


But there’s always time to sneak a car in the foreground.


Here’s the “Code Talkers” bronze memorial which stands about 12 feet tall. (image from


Now we enter Gallup, about 30 miles away. This is the county seat of McKinley County, and has been known for being one of the most patriotic towns in America according to the Best of the Road Contest. With a population of about 25,000, it doesn’t take long to drive through. However, this town is full of history and culture. I grew up near here, and it’s very common to hear different families speaking Navajo, Zuni, or Spanish. When you have that going on in the same room, it sounds pretty neat!



Though it was Sunday, there were quite a few people in downtown. 




There is a strong presence of art in downtown inspired by both the Hispanic and Native culture. 


The famous Route 66 cuts straight through town and has many interesting buildings. One in particular is the El Rancho Hotel built by the brother of D.W. Griffith (film director). This old hotel has seen many famous guests, such as John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Jackie Cooper, and Katharine Hepburn just to name a few. I actually have stayed in this hotel before while attending college. The current owners have done a masterful job of keeping the old western charm! When comparing this old photo to how it looks now, it really hasn’t changed much.


I was unable to get any good photos with the TL since they were “slurry-sealing” the parking lot. This photo from Google shows how it looks today. 


If you keep an eye out, you’ll spot these massive pots (I believe Pueblo) randomly throughout town. 


After Gallup, it was time to hit the road straight for home. Despite the wind blasting us from the side and mean dust storms, the TL handled the drive perfectly. 


Here was my ending mileage. 41,143 and counting!


Next goal when in Arizona will be this: Horseshoe Bend. Until next time…


2 thoughts on “Part 2: Navajo Nation Weekend Drive – Canyon de Chelly North Rim

  1. Oh man, Horseshoe Bend – talk to me! We must see that. Also need to schedule our Death Valley extravaganza. I really love that photo that you & Jouhl captured of my ILX on the twisty road leading to one of the north overlooks @ CDC. Can you email me the high-res? Also, great pics at Window Rock! I’ve often wondered what that looked like – now I know! And despite its lack of interesting surrounding infrastructure, you can bet I’m adding it to my list so I can check it out in person. Great post!

    • Haha! Yes! I think Horseshoe Bend should happen soon. Maybe after death valley. I’ll get with you on that to see what dates may work. I will get that photo to you also. I think it was one of those accidental great snaps! Your ILX looked at home there. You should totally do a post on Window Rock! I know you’d be able to scratch up enough info for a good post. 🙂

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