White House Ruin Trail

Chinle, Arizona

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A pleasant, short day hike to one of the Southwest’s best-preserved cliff houses. This is the only trail that visitors can use in Canyon de Chelly National Monument without a local guide. The monument is unique in that most of the land is still Navajo Reservation with locals still living in the canyon. Guides are necessary in most parts of the canyon to protect the privacy of the residents. The trail at first crosses slickrock, paralleling the rim for 100 yards or so before turning sharply to drop off the rim. Rock cairns and painted symbols on the sandstone mark the trail. Off the rim, the trail descends nearly 600 vertical feet in a series of sweeping, not too steep switchbacks. Wonderful close-up views of the distinctly cross-bedded de Chelly sandstone are possible. Try to imagine this rock as golden sand dunes piled up by strong desert winds some 270 million years ago. Later, over an almost unimaginable amount of time, these dunes were buried under other sediments and the sand grains became cemented into sandstone. More time passed, the region was uplifted, and erosion eventually exposed this layer. Relatively recently, Chinle Creek and its tributaries sliced down through this layer to create the intricate Canyon de Chelly complex.
Hiking Arizona

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking Arizona

by Stewart Aitchison & Bruce Grubbs (Falcon Guides)

A pleasant, short day hike to one of the Southwest’s best-preserved cliff houses. This is the only trail that visitors can use in Canyon de Chelly National Monument without a local guide. The monument is unique in that most of the land is still Navajo Reservation with locals still living in the canyon. Guides are necessary in most parts of the canyon to protect the privacy of the residents. The trail at first crosses slickrock, paralleling the rim for 100 yards or so before turning sharply to drop off the rim.

Rock cairns and painted symbols on the sandstone mark the trail. Off the rim, the trail descends nearly 600 vertical feet in a series of sweeping, not too steep switchbacks. Wonderful close-up views of the distinctly cross-bedded de Chelly sandstone are possible. Try to imagine this rock as golden sand dunes piled up by strong desert winds some 270 million years ago. Later, over an almost unimaginable amount of time, these dunes were buried under other sediments and the sand grains became cemented into sandstone. More time passed, the region was uplifted, and erosion eventually exposed this layer. Relatively recently, Chinle Creek and its tributaries sliced down through this layer to create the intricate Canyon de Chelly complex.

©  Stewart Aitchison & Bruce Grubbs/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Chinle
Distance: 2.5
Elevation Gain: 560 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: Day hike
Season: Best March to May, September to November
Trailhead Elevation: 6,000 feet
Top Elevation: 6,000 feet
Local Contacts: Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Local Maps: USGS Del Muerto
Driving Directions: Directions to White House Ruin Trail

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