Gateway to Canyon de Chelly National Monument
The Navajo people call this area Ch’ini’li which means “where the water flows out” to describe the location of the water flowing out from Canyon de Chelly. The Chinle community is situated in the center of the Navajo Nation and was established after the Navajo people returned from the Long Walk when thousands of Navajos were forced from their homes to march over 300 miles to Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. After the Treaty of 1868 was signed, Navajos returned to their homelands and many families came back to this area.
Missions, schools, and trading posts were established to help Navajos adjust to a new way of life. Chinle became a major trading center with the canyon attracting visitors from around the world. Thunderbird Lodge was the first trading post, Lady of Fatima Catholic Church was the first mission and Chinle Boarding School was the first school.
We welcome visitors from far and near who come to see the breathtaking views of the canyon or come to seek the services provided in Chinle.
Chinle serves as the Gateway to Canyon de Chelly where the canyon has provided food, water and shelter for groups of people for over 5,000 years including Archaic, Basketmakers, Ancestral Puebloans, and Hopi. Today, about 40 Navajo families live and farm in the canyons which limits access into the area. Nearly 84,000 acres of tribal lands were established as Canyon de Chelly National Monument under the National Park Service by President Herbert Hoover on February 1, 1931. To better manage the park, the National Park Service is working with the Navajo Nation, Bureau of Indian Affairs and other stakeholders to establish a cooperative management agreement.
Spider Rock and White House Ruin are the most notable areas in the park. A Welcome Center is located at the entrance of the park featuring maps and a bookstore. As a non-fee park, the scenic drives and the White House Trail are open year round; however, due to the pandemic, the park is closed and will welcome back visitors upon reopening.