Navajo Art and Ruins in the Four Corners Region


Ms. Scotter invited me on a driving trip for Valentine's day. Getting out of the smog of the big city sounded like a REALLY good idea. The Four Corners area was the chosen objective, looking at some of the "usual sights" and playing tourist.

Driving into Monument Valley, Destination Numero Uno. (Four Corners)

Monument Valley and the Ansel Adams Rock. (Four Corners)

Classic view of the Totem Pole (Four Corners)

Then we zipped down to the beautiful town of Kayenta, and visited the CodeTalker Museum, located in the local Burger King.

Next on the agenda – Betatakin. In winter, you can peek over at the ruin from the rim. In the summer, with planning, an overnight backpacking trip can be made down into the canyon to view the substantial ruin, up close and personal.

Ms. Scotter, again disregarding NPS Rules... (Four Corners)

Gotta admit, that gal has a sense of humor (Four Corners)

From Betatakin, we drove over to Canyon de Chelly.

The amazing Spider Rock. My friend Joe Adcock from college made one of the last legal ascents.

As if they have to tell us…

Canyon de Chelly is a bit of an odd Park. (Four Corners)

Canyon de Chelly is a bit of an odd Park. (Four Corners)

Canyon de Chelly is a bit of an odd Park. It is administered cooperatively between the Navajo Reservation and the National Park Service. Unlike Utah, there are a LOT of people living in the area - it's almost like being in the suburbs. There are roads up each side, with a number of viewpoints to look down into the canyon. There are people living in the canyon, and the floor of the canyon is only accessible in the company of a Navajo guide. A lot of Navajo history is found in the canyon.

We took the half-day tour of the canyon floor in this Unimog with the greenhouse on top.

There are a number of large ruins on the canyon floor, including this one with the swastika.

Famous. (Four Corners)

Famous. (Four Corners)

And the famous White House Ruin. (Four Corners)

And here’s looking down into the canyon from the south rim.

Let's go to Chaco!

Chaco was like the Vatican City of the Anasazi culture. And they built some rather impressive towns here, with many, many rooms, and many kivas. Interesting...

And some very impressive stonework. (Four Corners)

The villages are called Great Houses, and there are about 8 along the base of an escarpment in this valley. (Four Corners)

We took a short hike up to a Greathouse on top of the Mesa (Casa Alta). The hike gives a great view of the Great Houses in the canyon below, so that the structure shows clearly.

Here's some nice stonework at Casa Alta.

Here's some nice stonework at Casa Alta.

They have several different styles of stonework, and date construction based on the styles.

Paths were built out from Chaco in the cardinal directions. In some places, this involved climbing straight up over a substantial cliff. In this place, the stairs are called the Jackson Stairs. They are very, very steep, and basically no longer usable.

And Ms. Scotter was reluctant to descend them... (Four Corners)

The way back allowed us another great view of the Great House. (Four Corners)

Wellllll. Time to head for home. After a delightful night in the hopping metropolis of Farmington, we headed for home.

Actually, coming from Salt Lake, one has a hard time making fun of other small cities.

Time for a little climbing. We breezed by Mexican Hat and took a try at the famous Sombrero..

The approach is interesting and scenic, offering good views of the mighty San Juan River and it’s impressive, uh, riffles?

Well, this is about as far as we got. Ms Scotter found the idea of a shoulder stand (required for getting full style-points on the Bandito route) not so appealing, and my impromptu lecture on how to aid climb was just not sufficiently convincing. We exercised discretion.

On the way home, we dropped by Arches National Park to visit the famous RamRoom. Did you know Ms. Scotter used to be a competitive swimmer? Here she demonstrates her fine form in the famous Ram Swimming Pool and Jacuzi, currently out of service for seasonal cleaning.

The diving team, however, was not Ms. Scotter’s strong suit.

A view to the La Sals across the petrified dunes.

Nice huecoed walls in the RamRoom. Unfortunately, from here it was time to ramble on. Ah well…