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Planning Your Time
To get even a basic sense of the park's scope and history, plan to spend at least a full day here. If time is short, the best strategy is to spend some time at the visitor center, where you can watch an informative 23-minute video about the canyons, and then drive the most magnificent of the two park roads, South Rim Drive. You could, if you're ambitious, drive both park roads in one day, but it's better to set aside a second day for North Rim Drive, or take the North Rim Drive as an alternative route to Kayenta, by way of Tsaile. From the different overlooks along the park roads you'll be treated to amazing photo ops of the valley floors below, and you can also access certain dwellings. For a more in-depth look at Canyon de Chelly, book one of the guided hiking, jeep, or horseback tours into the canyon.
Both Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto have a paved rim drive with turnoffs and parking areas. Each drive takes a minimum of two hours—allow more if you plan to hike to White House Rim, picnic, or spend time photographing the sites. Overlooks along the rim drives provide incredible views of the canyon; be sure to stay on trails and away from the canyon edge, and to control children and pets at all times.
The visitor center has exhibits on the history of the cliff dwellers and provides information on scheduled hikes, tours, and National Park Service programs offered throughout the summer months.
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