I was there 5 years ago and my experience was similar to RGar's. It is a poor area and they rely on tourism to boost the economy. I had several people come up and beg. That has nothing to do with it being on a reservation. It's just a fact. You will need two nights there if you plan to take a tour and the rim drive. If you take a tour, make sure you get a guide to take you. You're personal vehicle will thank you. Oh, and the mosquitos are bad there, too.
We have camped at Cottonwood Campground twice in the past five years. It never occured to us to worry about being safe. I don't recall any showers in the restrooms though. Canyon de Chelley is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I would plan for at least two days so that you can get a guide to go inside the canyon. Three days would be best. I envy you! lizzie
We are planning a five-day stay in the four corners area, arriving from Mesa Verde in early May. We have a 35 foot gas motor home and pull a small car. We would like to see both Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelley. We are wondering about two options. Option 1 -- spend five nights at Gouldings in Monument Valley and drive to Canyon de Chelley one day for a long day trip. Option 2: Spend two nights in the Canyon de Chelley campground (dry camping), and then move on to Gouldings for three nights.
Specifically, is the Canyon de Chelly campground safe? Are the sites big enough for our motor home and car? Since the sites are not reservable, are we likely to find a spot in early May?
Any advice is appreciated.
First Option 2 would be my choice of your two options, while in the area think about capturing Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell and the North Rim.
Is it safe? We will go out of our way to spend the night in the Canyon de Chelly CG -- large sites that are so close to everything -- we have never had an issue, in many, many trips. The people are friendly, we always try to eat at the Parks cafeteria/restaurant -- very good local foods. IMHO, the area is actually almost spiritual, we have always loved it, and have not had one bad experience.
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I haven't been there in twenty years, and I laughed when I saw the title and had to read through because it's the only place I remember my parents leaving when we camped all over the country growing up. I didn't know it was on a reservation (until reading these), nor could I tell you whether the people there were white, brown, blue or green, but I remember the atmosphere and it was scary. Specifically I remember a lot of people loitering around but almost no tents or campers. Also was not well kept at that time. I hope it's a better place now, because I do remember the area being beautiful. Good luck!
One more suggestion, consider cutting down the nights at Gouldings. Three seems like a lot.
We stayed one night last year, took a sunset tour of the Valley and headed out the next day after seeing the little museum at original Gouldings family home. There isn't much more going on there than that. Scenery is wonderful but similar abounds all over that area.
There is SO MUCH to see in the area, many interesting spots within a short drive.
Again, thanks for the input. I do want to re-ask one of my original questions. Will we have trouble finding a spot in the CdC campground in early May? I assume not, but since there does not seem to be any where else in the area to camp, I want to be reasonably sure.
After reading everything, we are probably going to stay two nights at CdC. The risks, though possible, seem minimal. It seems like one of the experiences we envisioned when we first decided to become full-time RVers. Originally, we only intended to do the drives. Now we intend to hire a Navajo guide, using the guide's transportation, possibly the trucks. We have two dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs, that we will leave in the motor home during the tour.
One more thing, we have two bicycles. Two years ago in a Corps of Engineers campground in NM, one of them was damaged (involving repair in a bike shop), when someone attempted to steal it from the carrier on the back of our car. (It was locked onto the carrier). We decided to leave them behind on this trip.
Thanks for the information and the encouragement.
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There ia another campground on Navajo Hwy7 on the south rim. It is privately owned. www.spiderrockcampground.com
877-910-2267 They accept reservations.
I would suggest hiring a private guide. They will take you to the more remote areas in the canyon that the larger trucks will not.
A good website to research is www.navajoguides.com