Click to ENLARGE the Pictures & Map.
In reality this is the ONLY way to see and get to know Canyon de Chelly. Going into the Canyon on horseback is fun (and we have done it twice) but you can’t cover as much ground and, from our experience, the guides that do horseback are not as ‘proficient’ as those on the ‘jeeps’. (But, there could be exceptions and we LUCKED out in that we got ‘Daniel Draper’ who has been doing jeep tours for 29-years). Yes, you can hike down to the ‘White House‘ (which we have also done twice) but you don’t get to see any of the key ‘pictographs‘ (painted) or ‘petroglyphs‘ (carved).
This was the second time I had done a ‘Thunderbird Lodge Tour‘ — albeit 19-years apart. The first time, in 1999, was in the BIGGER Korean-war era Army vehicles they used to have. But, then there was the infamous 2012 roll-over that (eventually) killed two. Everything changed after that — including the ownership of the iconic & historic ‘Thunderbird Lodge’. The 6-wheelers they use now are smaller and newer.
We lucked out — as was invariably the case during this entire 4-day trip to the Canyon (my 4th). Very few people. Most of the time, wherever we would be the only ones there. That is nice and highlights the trademark serenity of the Canyon (which is my favorite part).
We did not book a private tour. We just booked (in the morning) the 4-hour, 4pm (sunset) tour. We were told be there 20-minutes early.
Well it was just the two us, Teischan & I, and that was special. I, with extensive experience with Navajo, soon established a good rapport with Daniel — and I think he enjoyed it too, in that I was not a total novice when it came to the Canyon or the Navajo. We had such a good time that I invited Daniel and his two daughters for dinner with us (at ‘The Junction‘) and they accepted. We had a great time and the two, extremely talented daughters, regaled us with songs after the dinner.
The tour was good. We learnt a lot.
Totally recommend it. Yes, there are other tours. From what I can see they are roughly the same price, i.e., ~$70/person for 3-4 hours. But, I liked the tour we took.
Click to ENLARGE Images.
33 years ago there was really ONLY one place to eat ‘Thunderbird Lodge Cafeteria‘ — and it WAS GOOD.
19 years ago you had the option of eating at the ‘Holiday Inn’ restaurant as well — BUT, the ‘Thunderbird Lodge Cafeteria’ was still the best.
3 years ago ‘Thunderbird Lodge Cafeteria’ (then called ‘The Sacred Lodge Cafeteria’) still rocked.
Not anymore. The ‘Thunderbird Lodge Cafeteria’, under new management (as of 18-months ago), SUCKS and sucks badly. The quality of food as plummeted.
Luckily there is the NEW ‘The Junction‘ attached to the ‘Best Western’ Hotel. ‘The Junction’ is GOOD. Very good and furthermore offers everything on the menu at the ‘Thunderbird’ and more. Yes, the common items between the two menus are typically $3 more expensive at ‘The Junction’, but that is well worth it since the quality and service is so much better. Plus ‘The Junction’ is full-service.
There is also a new “Denny’s” and a “Burger King” — the latter offering the ONLY reliable Wi-Fi in town.
“Denny’s” was OK. We had breakfast their once. Service was a tad slow but the food was OK.
We ate three nights in a row at ‘The Junction’ and even took some new Navajo friends there for dinner. They told us that they go there too — rather than the ‘Thunderbird’.
So, DEFINITELY recommend ‘The Junction’.
I personally also like “Church’s Chicken” and we have eaten there twice. It is fun and good.
Also do NOT forget the outstanding ‘Bashas’ supermarket with their deli that has an extensive range of hot food — including LOTS of great mutton. Their pot roast is very good.
So, my recommendations (at least for 2018): ‘The Junction’, “Church’s Chicken”, ‘Bashas’ supermarket, “Denny’s” & “Burger King”.
This was rather special — even if it was filmed in ‘Best Western’ Hotel car park. Two rather amazing Navajo sisters; 15 & 13. They literally sang for their dinner — though, of course, they didn’t have to.
I had met their father 6-hours earlier. He took Teischan & I on a 4-hour, 6-wheeler ‘jeep’ tour of the Canyon — both the North & South sides. Though we hadn’t booked it as such, we lucked out and it proved to be a private tour — just the two of us. It was a great tour.
The tour finished around 7:50pm. We had already planned to go to “The Junction”, at the ‘Best Western’, for dinner, as we had done the last two-nights. We invited ‘Daniel’ to join us for dinner. He had told us about his two youngest daughters and how talented they were. He had even shown us a video of the oldest (15) singing. I told him to bring them along.
At 8:40pm we were having dinner. It was great. We all had a great time. We were the last to leave the restaurant.
This was when we got outside. The father asked them to sing for us. He is, understandably, very proud of their talents. They did NOT need any coaxing. They sang three songs for us. This was the last. I will post the other two soon.