There are perhaps countless pictographs (painting on rock) and petroglyphs (pecking on rock) in Canyon de Chelly. The history of peoples in the canyon goes back thousands of years and the images remain from each one of these cultures. Doing a tour on the canyon floor with a Navajo guide will be the best way to see a few of the well protected images. The stories behind some of the pictographs are even more amazing.
We selected only a few photos from our trip (we have over a hundred of pictographs) to share on the site. A site in itself could be dedicated to the art in the canyon, but no photo can give the feeling you get when you see them in real life.
Pictographs Near Antelope House Ruin
This is my favorite. To the left of Antelope House lies a series of painted antelope. You can see them very close if you do the canyon tour and you can also spot them from the outlook on the Rim Drive. There are also many other pictographs in this area.
Pictographs Near Standing Cow Ruin
The pictographs near Standing Cow Ruin tell a lot of stories about the history of the Navajo and the European Americans. The Navajo pictographs are distinct from other pictographs by their wide range of colors and details. They are very beautiful but can tell sad stories of invasions and lives lost.
The photo above shows a beautiful canvas of people on horses. It helps to set the time frame because the horses came with the Spanish. We do not want to tell the story here because it is a story that should be told by one of the Navajos in the canyon.
This next photo (directly above) is clickable like the first one so you can get a closer view. On the left is three figures commonly called 'kokopeli'. A lot of theories as to who or what the symbol means. We like to believe he was a trader with a pack on his back (the hump) and that he played a flute so people knew he was coming. Again, this is just a theory. On the right there are a few figures and many hands painted on the rock. The circles may mean different phases of the moon. This art is older than the art in the first photo.