When and where should you arrive?
We suggest that you arrive in Chinle the night before so that you are ready to go when we meet at the National Monument Visitor Center in Chinle, Sunday morning. We also suggest that you book someplace with a shower waiting for you the night that you leave.
Do you offer daily hikes or summer tours?
Yes, but those will not be listed or available to reserve until February 24th, 2024. Please subscribe to our mailing list below to receive updates on these and all other events.
Do you provide camping gear?
We cannot. However, we highly recommend staying in Chinle and hiking with us during the day.
Do you have a waitlist? Do you combine groups?
We are planning to offer one Cultural Immersion Trip in the Spring and Fall where individuals may register to join a larger a group. We also welcome multiple groups during day hikes.
What about dogs?
Dogs are not allowed anywhere in the National Monument. You may bring your dog to Sheep Camp, although we want to emphasize that there are many strays who carry disease in the area. Therefore, if you do bring a dog to Sheep Camp, you will need to leave it in your vehicle when we hike into the canyon because it is unsafe to leave it tied up outside.
Given the history of alcohol on the Navajo Nation we ask that you respectfully leave your drinks at home.
Which Camp is Better?
It really depends on what you are looking for. Yei Bi Cheii will require hiking everyday, although the hikes are usually less than 3 miles long. Yei Bi Cheii is also in the canyon and there are archeological sites everywhere. Since it is at the confluence of the two main canyons, there will be jeep and foot traffic nearby during the day, but none at camp itself.
Sheep Camp is extremely remote and is not located within the National Park boundary. If you have a high clearance 4x4 vehicle, you can drive there. Full size school buses can make it in good weather. While the camp itself is not very scenic, the hikes from the rim are remarkable.
What about bad weather like flash floods or monsoons?
Regardless of where you go in Canyon De Chelly you will need to be prepared for all kinds of weather. The camp at Yei Bi Cheii is in a very safe place, although the stream may rise and make it temporarily uncrossable. In the worst case scenario, hikers would be able to walk across after a few hours, and then hike out of the canyon. Sheep Camp presents a different challenge: if the roads get very muddy, it can take days for them to dry. We frequently check the weather before large groups go to Sheep Camp and will make modifications to your trip if necessary.
What if there is a major medical emergency?
The National Park Service has some of the best search-and-rescue resources in the area. While there is very little cell service, there are places where we can quickly go to text or call 911.
What are the permits and permissions necessary to travel on tribal lands?
All visitors are required to have a certified guide on Navajo Tribal Lands as well as landowner permission, which in this case is Lupita. The Navajo Nation and National Park Service charge a daily hiking/camping fee to manage its visitor system. This is so that the Park can prevent vandalism, and in the case of an emergency, know where groups are. The backcountry permit is NOT included in the cost of your trip and is $15 per person per night.
Your group leader will obtain these permits with Lupita the morning that you start your tour. .
What about the Special Use Permit and Large Groups?
The Navajo Nation and the National Park Service are very particular about commercial groups who run tours on tribal lands. If your group is larger than 15 people, the Park Service requires a Special Use Permit. For visitor safety, it wants to know where a large group is, as well as if it has liability insurance. For school districts or companies like REI, this is easy to provide. If you are a large group and do not have liability insurance, or you are a profit seeking company, the Park Service will require an additional $1000 deposit for your trip. The process is not difficult, but it can take up to two months to complete. We have worked with many large groups like the Sierra Club and have always gotten a permit.
If you are a school group, we highly recommend that you request an exemption to the fee and deposit. To do this, submit a letter written on official school letterhead explaining the purpose of your trip along with your permit application.
For more information on the special use permits, please visit this link.
Is “The Rez” safe?
It is very safe, particularly if you drive during daylight hours. At night it is harder to see cattle or people walking along the road. Once you are at Yei Bi Cheii or Sheep Camp, you will be miles away from strangers.
What about my car if I hike into Yei Bi Cheii?
We will leave your vehicle parked at Lionel’s house on the rim. He is a long time friend, never goes anywhere, and lets you park there for free if you buy some jewelry when you leave.
Want to learn more?
We are currently working on a podcast that will be available for free in early March called, “An Introduction to the Rez”. As soon as it comes out, we highly recommend that you listen to it as you drive across the Southwest and prepare for your visit.