Visit to Canyon de Chelly
by Amy Jo Marash
"Is that horse for sale?" No, Tadadin, the beautiful
buckskin mare that belongs to my riding partner Joyce Fay, is not for sale. But she's a horse
that gets noticed.
Figure 1: The beautiful buckskin -- head view only, sorry.
Photo courtesy Joyce
Fay. You can get better views of her buckskin from Joyce
Fay's photographs cover photographs for New Mexico magazine.
Joyce and I trailered our horses one weekend in May to the
Four Corners area so we could ride through Canyon de Chelly.
Canyon de Chelly is a very beautiful and readily accessible
place to ride. It's near Chinle, Arizona, 90 miles northwest
of Gallup and Window Rock. You can ride right into the mouth
of the canyon and go up either of the two forks. Everyone who
enters the canyon needs permission from the Visitors Center,
and everyone needs to have a native guide. Our friend Vicki Blair,
who runs the trading post in nearby Lukachukai, agreed to ride
with us as our guide. It only took a few minutes to register
at the Visitors Center and get our permits. From there we trailered
to a small ranch where Vicki had permission to park for the day.
The owners kindly offered to keep the buckskin mare, in case
Joyce wanted to part with her. (no thank you.)
Figure 2. Amy Marash on her gelding, Pokey. Photo courtesy
We rode on a warm sunny Sunday. Under the towering red rocks
we comfortably shared the sand flats with four wheel drive cruisers
filled with tourists, and plenty of pick-up trucks splashing
the locals through the creek. There are petroglyphs and ruins
in the canyon, and a rest area with picnic tables and bathroom
facilities. Vicki asked whether we had any money for fry bread,
and I gleefully announced that I was buying. But there was none
for sale that day, and we picnicked instead on treats from our
Later, when I heard a tinkling sound in the wind, I decided
there must be a table nearby with someone selling wind chimes.
Vicki and Joyce waited until I could finally see the source of
the music before laughing out loud. Not windchimes, but sheep
with their bells.
We endured a little bit of rain, some wind, and one swarm
of gnats and mosquitoes, but the ride was exceptionally pleasant.
We rode past a small herd of horses with their foals who allowed
us through their territory without incident. One yearling was
very curious about us, and parked himself at my leg while I stopped
to enjoy the view.