Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mummy Cave Ruins in Canyon de Chelly

Mummy Cave Ruins is one of the largest sites in the Canyon de Chelly in northeast Arizona. It is visible from an overlook along the north rim road. It can also be viewed on a guided tour.

The typical all day group tour visits Mummy Cave. I visited on a half day private jeep tour where we only visited the Canyon del Muerto arm. The private tours cost more but there is more flexibility and they move faster. It took my tour 2:00 hours to arrive here including making stops at the many sites along the way. Even when you view from the canyon floor, the fencing forces a long distance view.

The interpretive sign at the site says that habitation began here in 300 AD, making it one of the oldest Ancestral Pueblo sites in the canyon. The Navajo name for Mummy Cave is House Under the Rock. This upper area of the Canyon de Chelly area doesn't have the broad sandy canyon floor as the lower area.

There is a meandering creek in this area and the road is easier driving, though still a rough dirt road. There aren't as many ruins or rock art sites in this upper canyon area as the lower area.

The differences in styles between the side alcove sites and the center structure are easy to see even from a distance. The rooms are smaller and the stone work is rougher.

The center section is thought to have been built around 1280 AD by people who moved here from the Mesa Verde area as the structures resemble the Mesa Verde style. The Mesa Verde site that this reminds me of most is the Square Tower House on the Mesa Top Loop.

The location where mummies were found is to the right of the main structures and there are two pictographs on the canyon walls in that area. My total tour of the Canyon del Muerto arm of Canyon de Chelly took 3:20 hours.

   528614_Cool Camo Russell Outdoors

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