The Hubble Trading Post, Canyon de Chelly, and Monument Valley…

We expected to find impressive stone monuments in Monument Valley and weren’t disappointed. A convenient stump added to the magic of this scene. Many a Hollywood star ranging from John Wayne to Johnny Depp saddled up here and made Westerns.

Peggy and I are sitting in our van on the edge of the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Reserve on the Rio Grande River in central New Mexico. It’s supposed to be a major winter gathering place for numerous species of waterfowl, even the close to extinct whooping crane. We are watching as sandhill cranes return to the reserve in long lines after a day feeding along the river. At least a thousand have flown by so far. 

We were greeted by a road runner when we came into the campground. The owner told us to watch out for wild pigs.  I wonder if he meant peccaries. They are nastier than pigs and come with razor sharp tusks, great for rooting up food— or doing serious damage to pesky tourists. Here piggy, piggy, piggy. We saw lots of fresh tracks this morning when we were hiking up a desert wash near Los Lunas looking for petroglyphs, but there were no peccaries. 

Other than the train that just roared by and the sound of sandhill cranes settling in for the night, it seems extraordinarily quiet here. If you travel 30 miles due east from where we are, however, you come on the Trinity site where the first atomic bomb was blown up on July 16, 1945, forever changing the world. A bit farther east, Smokey the Bear was discovered in a tree hiding out from a wildfire in 1950, and Billy the Kid practiced his fast-gun draws in the Lincoln County War of 1878. Continue on and you come to Roswell where UFO fans will forever declare that flying saucers crashed in 1947 and the government hid the fact. Traveling the opposite direction into the Rockies some 60 miles, the Very Large Array of radio telescopes searches the skies for alien life and other astronomical wonders. Lots has happened in this quiet place.

I rode my bike through here in 1989 as part of my 10,000-mile bike trek around North America. I crossed the Rockies in one day, bicycling 100 miles. If that seems a bit daunting, like it did to me at the time, the second 50-miles were all downhill. Woohoo!

We have just completed a delightful few days of exploring Taos, Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch following in the footsteps of Georgia O’Keefe and her friend Ansel Adams. It should make a fun blog. But that is all in the future. Today I want to share a few of the photos we took at the Hubble Trading Post, Canyon De Chelly and at Monument Valley.  (Written a few days ago.)

Sheep are important to the Navajos, both for their wool and meat. This four horned fellow, looking down his nose at me, decorated the walls of the Hubble Trading Post. He was joined by…
A buffalo and…
A magnificent elk.
Hubble provided the Navaho with a means of making a living by encouraging them to make rugs and then buying them to sell. I was amused to find this one in his home, which is now part of the National Monument. The face reminded us of petroglyphs that are found throughout the Southwest, which we will feature in a later post.
Rugs continue to be made and sold at the post in the traditional way.
A view inside the Hubble Trading Post, which is still open for business and looks very much like it did a hundred years ago. We bought post cards to send to the grandkids.
Navajo made baskets cover the ceiling of the Hubble Trading Post.
We left the Hubble Trading Post and drove on to the Canyon de Chelly (pronounced shay) National Monument which is jointly operated by the Navajo Nation and the National Park Service. We were driving along the south rim of the Canyon when we came on a herd of handsome Navaho sheep. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Visitors are welcome to drive along both the South and North rim of the National Monument. Several overlooks provide gorgeous views into the Canyon. Fall cottonwoods added a splash of color. Navajo still live in and farm the canyon.
A number of ancient cliff dwellings are also found in the Canyon. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
As might be expected, prominent landmarks are incorporated into Navajo mythology and beliefs. The monument is Spider Woman.
The power of erosion on various types of rocks creates marvelous land forms in the canyon. Check out the face on the right!
Shamans of Native American tribes were known for the other-worldly journeys they took. Peggy and I thought this eroded rock looked like a window or door into such a world. Stare at it for a few minutes and you may see other beings looking out at you. Grin. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
As we returned to our campground, we were treated to a sunset that lit up the canyon walls.
If you wish to journey into Canyon de Chelly, you have to have a Navajo guide. I highly recommend the experience. While you can appreciate the beauty from the rim, being inside provides a totally different perspective! (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Even the well traveled tracks that your guide takes you over provide a unique look.
The views in the canyon went on and on, enhanced by the fall colors as they were from the rim.
We visited a number of petroglyph sites. The fellow lying down is Kokopelli, known for his mischief and playing his flute, which he used to seduce women. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Our guide, James Yazzie Jr., added considerably to the enjoyment of our experience. In addition to being a guide, he was a horse rancher, welder, Native dancer, and movie extra. His grandfather had been a ‘Navajo Talker’ during World War II.
Monument Valley is also part of the Navajo Nation like Canyon de Chelly and once again we went on a Navajo guided tour. This monument is a beauty but somehow I couldn’t help but think of Rowan and Martin’s Fickle Finger of Fate award. Those of you who were around will probably remember the award that was given out weekly on the TV show. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
My imagination jumped to petrified Tyrannosaurus Rex claws when I saw these rocks!
While I was focusing on ‘Rex’s claws,” Peggy captured these rocks in their golden setting. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson>)
Monuments come in many sizes and shapes in Monument Valley.
Peggy and I both took photos of this monument reaching for the sky.
Our tour took us to the appropriately named “Big Hogan.” One of our tour group provided a perspective on just how big it is.
The hole in the “Hogan” was quite colorful. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Our guide, Roz, broke out her flute and played while we were admiring the ceiling of the “Hogan.” It was quite haunting. Kokopelli would have been jealous. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
I found the “Eye of the Sun” rock very dramatic.
I am not sure the Ancients who created petroglyphs had a sense of humor, but I often find their petroglyphs humorous. This was in the Big Hogan and Eye of the Sun area.
I’ll conclude this post with a view of the sunset in Monument Valley. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

NEXT POST: The New Mexico world of Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams.

36 thoughts on “The Hubble Trading Post, Canyon de Chelly, and Monument Valley…

    • Laughing, Ray. There are certainly a lot of beautiful rugs there to buy. And the area is special, both from its historical perspective and its beauty. I should add geology as well and Native American lore. –Curt

    • Yes it is gorgeous, Cindy, and we are finding more and more places where limits are placed on what you can do. Sad. In a way, I understand it, but it doesn’t make me happy, like the petroglyphs being fenced off in Petrified National Park. We are so used to wandering among the petroglyphs. –Curt

  1. Such gorgeous landscapes! I’d like to explore the cave dwellings and meet some of the locals. It sounds like a relaxing, yet educational place to visit. The trading post is a must-stop for me. I love places like that in the Southwest.

    • Thanks! I’ll do another more detailed post on Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley, Andrew, including talking more about the movies! Our guide, James, BTW, trained horses for appearing in Western movies. –Curt

      • I remember signs saying ‘keep to the paths’ so not to walk across precious fauna and damage it. I couldn’t help thinking that John Ford was allowed to run a full cavalry brigade and an entire Indian nation across the valley!

      • Laughing. And you are exactly right, Andrew. The Navajos are quite appreciative of the fame that Ford brought to their area. And tourists. There is even a John Ford overlook. What seemed a bit strange to me is that he named all of the monuments and the Navajo Nation has kept his names rather than using their own, which I think might be more interesting. – Curt

  2. A magnificent place to be, Curt. Each picture was as interesting as the last.
    But, you had to go there to see a road runner, while I just had to go grocery shopping last Sunday to stop and have a conversation with a 3-foot wood stork!!

    He sure was a lay-back fella!!

  3. I’m so glad I decided to follow your blog! Although I’ve been to many of the places you describe in your blog, you have a way of presenting them with a different perspective that deepens the experience for me. Thank you.

  4. Curt, this post is so beautiful that I now find I don’t know where to start to respond to all that grips me. Read your post yesterday and thought another read today would help to get a response together. No dice.

    I love it all, from the first monument through and including the rocks with the faces that seem to laugh at you. Oh, the rock dwellings … , you see what I mean.
    It would be an essay.
    So, thank you


    • A grand adventure it was, Alison. (We arrived back home yesterday.) Many more posts coming. 🙂 Thanks on the first photo. I saw the old stump off to the side and knew it had potential to enhance was already and impressive site. –Curt

  5. I had a hard time not completing your “Hubble” with “telescope” when I read the title, and after looking through the photos, it seems like it might have fit, after all. There’s an unworldly, or other-worldly, beauty to all this, and you can Peggy capture it wonderfully well. I especially like those curled toes — or claws, if you will. I don’t remember seeing something quite like them in your previous posts. I like the curves.

    • The ‘other worldly’ beauty of the Southwest is what pulls us back to the area time and time again, Linda. That and the history combined with the Native American and ancient people’s cultures. I have posts coming up on the Taos Pueblo and the Three River’s Petroglyph site, Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico and several more on the natural beauty of the area. There is no lack of blog material. (grin) What’s lacking is time! –Curt

  6. I see pictures like this and keep wondering, why has it been so long since I’ve been to the Southwest? The one trip I did make, way back when, didn’t include Monument Valley. Looks like it should, should I ever return.

  7. Absolutely loved Canyon de Chelle and could have, should have spent more time walking around and through and taking pictures. Yours are lovely. I’m also fond of Navajo rugs, although the one we bought in Santa Fe looks a bit out of place among my East Tennessee things. No matter. I’ve found that travelers don’t really have a style — just collected things and lots of memories. Works for us.

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