Saturday, August 13, 2022
59 degrees at 6:00
“The Hopi, San Juan Southern Paiute, Zuni, and Navajo are tribes that have inhabited the canyons for centuries. Springs fed into farming land on the canyon floor and homes were built in the natural sandstone alcoves. The cliff dwellings of Betatakin, Keet Seel, and Inscription House were last physically occupied around 1300 AD but the villages have a spiritual presence that can still be felt today.” From: https://www.nps.gov/nava/index.htm
You can take a guided tour of Betatakin for half a day. The only other way to see it is from an overlook across the canyon. The only way to see Keet Seel is a 10-hour, 18 mile hike. You must have a permit, and you will meet a ranger at the site for a guided tour. It is supposed to be one of the best preserved sites. These are incredible sites, and the Navajo consider them sacred sites. No doubt, they will be better preserved in this way, however they do allow their cows to roam these lands.
We opted to go to the overlook, carrying my heavy 200-500mm lens and a tripod. It was worth it though, as I got some pretty good pictures. We walked back up past the nice Visitor’s Center and down the trail to Betatakin until we reached a gate. It gave us a feel for the canyon.
There is a very nice write-up on Keet Seel at: https://www.gjhikes.com/2016/07/keet-seel.html. After reading about the adventures explorers have had in finding these sites, this is a relatively easy trip to an incredible site where you can be guided through the site, climbing the ladders into the houses where the ancients lived.
Inscription house has suffered from erosion, people digging in the site and school children inscribing their names on the walls, so it has been closed. Still the problems persist. “The latter ruin derives its name from an inscription scratched into the clay plaster of a wall. It reads, “Shapeiro Ano Dom 1661.” An intrepid early Spanish explorer or missionary, probably on his way to or from the Colorado River, must have entered the canyon in which this ruin is located and paused at the long-abandoned pueblo to scratch a record of his visit. So far as recorded it was not visited again until June, 1909.” From: https://navajopeople.org/blog/inscription-house-ruin-nitsie-canyon-arizona/.