Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spider Rock and Sliding House Overlooks at Canyon de Chelly

One of the best known features visible from the rim overlooks in Canyon de Chelly in NE Arizona is Spider Rock, an 800 foot spire that is sometimes described as the home of Spider woman, a character from Navajo mythology.

One story has it that she is the one who gave the gift of weaving to the Navajos. Navajo weaving has become an art form. This is practiced mostly by women and there are many traditional and modern designs.

When I first started looking at these I was shocked at how expensive they were, costing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.

The Spider Rock is at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon to the right. The Chuska Mountains are visible on the horizon.

The massive cliffs that form the walls of the canyon are De Chelly Sandstone. The De Chelly Sandstone was deposited as dunes in an arid environment about 250 to 230 million years ago. The caprock along the canyon is known as the Shinarump Conglomerate, a layer of stream deposited sand and gravel.

The next turn off down from Spider Rock is Sliding House, named for its precarious location on a steep slope. The sandstone cliffs here have the dark manganese deposits usually called desert varnish, and they also seem to have some white deposits, perhaps a seep spring that has evaporated.

The desert varnish was often scratched to make petroglyphs. Current Navajo artists are starting to sell petroglyph designs scratched into pieces of sandstone. There are Navajo vendors everywhere you might stop in Canyon de Chelly.

I bought the one in the upper left of the green towell for $20. The artist claims that the designs are copies of actual petroglyphs found in various places in the canyon.

1 comment:

Picture Man said...

Spider rock is too cool, reminds me of castle valley utah (not too far i guess), but with out as many touristas.

Cheers man, great blog!