The Canyon's walls are mostly of red sandstone. The valley floor is sand. Although it is not apparent in this photo much of the Canyon has been planted with cottonwoods, tamarisks, Russian olive trees and other plants in an effort to absorb water and mitigate the flooding that follows a rain.

A group of 19 of us went into the Canyon in early October 2003, led by Gary Tepfer. Gary is a noted nature photographer who has established relationships of mutual respect with some of Canyon de Chelly's Navaho guides. Our group included 2 provisioners (Cassie and Bonnie), a guide (Donna Anagal), Donna's sister Pauline and Pauline's daughter Aaliyah. We stayed for a week, camping on land owned by Donna's family.

Gary has taken many groups into Canyon de Chelley. For photographers each trip is a learning experience. Every morning after breakfast Gary discusses techniques for photographing nature. Although the trips are putatively for photographers, many of his clients are simply folks (like me) who love nature and are thrilled at an opportunity to camp in this beautiful place. I am not a serious photographer and the photos on this website are from a simple point-and-click camera.

This was my third trip with Gary (the first was to Canyon de Chelly 6 years ago; the second was 3 years ago to a site in the Chuska Mountains west of Ship Rock.)

If you look at a map you will see that the Canyon is bifurcated. The southern branch is Canyon de Chelly proper and the northern branch is called Canyon del Muerto. On this trip we stayed entirely in Canyon del Muerto. The Canyon de Chelly National Monument encompasses both branches.