10 Great Places to Horse Ride- #6 Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

April 3, 2012

Horseback riding in Canyon de Chelly with the Navajo ranks in at #6 in our countdown of great places to ride.

by Darley Newman

If you want a truly spiritual horse ride in a spectacular setting, ride with the Navajo at Canyon de Chelly in Northeastern, Arizona. I’ve ridden through some pretty amazing scenery and was blown away as I rounded a bend to see homes carved into a skyscraper sized red canyon wall. 

 

These historic cliff dwellings once housed dozens of families and were built sometime between 1100 and 1300 by the Ancestral Puebloans, known by the Navajo as the Anasazi. My small Quarter horse Mustang mix named Quarter Moon led me between the thousand foot canyon walls, discovering petroglyphs and pictographs – a sort of historic tour on horseback. Lee Bigwater, my horse riding guide from Totsonii Ranch, spent his childhood summers with his grandparents in the canyon and described the close-knit community who lived together here.

The Pueblo people hunted and farmed in the canyon more than 1,000 years ago, and some Navajo, who settled the canyon in the 1700s, still reside here today. On a longer ride into the canyon, pass through small forests of cottonwood and Russian olive trees and across various streams to reach Spider Rock, an 800-foot sandstone spire that rises to the sky. According to Navajo creation stories, this monolith is the home of Spider Woman, who taught the Navajo the art of weaving.

Read about our #7 pick–– Donana National Park in Spain.

Topics: Arizona, Canyon de Chelly, equestrian travels, equestrian vacation, equestrian vacations, horseback riding, lee bigwater, national monuments, national park, national parks, Navajo Nation, Totsonii Ranch

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