Keet Seel Navajo National Monument

The 700 year old Ancestral Puebloan ruins of Keet Seel were discovered by Richard Wetherill in early 1895. They can only be viewed by hiking into Tsegi Canyon, climbing down a thousand foot plateau and hiking up a well marked trail. The route requires crossing a rocky streambed through water sometimes encountering quicksand, rock and mud.
IMG 5030  Keet Seel IMG 4803  View of Tsegi Canyon 700 feet above the valley floor from the Shonto plateau and trail head to Keet Seel. IMG 4804  In 1933 the CWA (Civil Works Administration) built the trail through sandstone rock by blasting and chiseling to create an access to Betatakin and Keet Seel.  This date was carved into the sandstone at the trail head. Local lore suggests Harry Rorick ,a trader at Shonto, pioneered the trail down in 1931, according to his wife's account in Navajo Trading Days, and it was "improved" in 33-34. IMG 4806  Harvey Leake our guide discusses trail issues with Marie Garcia Shaffner and Rulon Wetherill.
IMG 4808  Marie Garcia Shaffner at the trail head 1000 feet above Tsegi Canyon. IMG 4814  The CWA (Civil Works Administration) blasted this passage into the sandstone in 1933. Local lore suggests, Harry Rorick, a trader at Shonto, pioneered the trail down in 1931, according to his wife's account in Navajo Trading Days, and it was "improved" in 33-34. IMG 4815  Descending into Tsegi Canyon. IMG 4817  Marie Garcia Shaffner and Rulon Wetherill beginning descent into Tsegi Canyon.
IMG 4822  Marie Garcia Shaffner walking through very deep sand. IMG 4824  The bottom of Tsegi Canyon after crossing Laguna Creek to Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4828  Hiking up Keet Seel Canyon to the junction of Dowozhiebito Canyon. IMG 4831  Purple flowers of the Bee Weed.
IMG 4832  Purple flower of the Bee Weed. IMG 4829  The hike to Keet Seel crosses deep sand as well as wading through the stream. IMG 4830 IMG 4834  Nearing the junction of Keet Seel Canyon and Dowozhiebito Canyon.
IMG 4836  Rulon, Marie and Harvey stop to pose for a picture.  This is the junction for Keet Seel Canyon and Dowozhiebito Canyon to the right. IMG 4839  Pink sandstone cliffs are on both sides of this broad canyon. IMG 4842  There are many cattle in the canyon which makes the stream water undrinkable.  There are a couple of feeder springs along the way which have good water if you know where to look. IMG 4849  Marie Garcia Shaffner stops to have her picture taken.
IMG 4855  Cutting across a sand dune as a shortcut walking up Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4856  Chamisa also called Rabbit Bush is blooming throughou the Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4860  Many plants were in full bloom along the way. IMG 4861  About two miles up Keet Seel Canyon.
IMG 4869  Marie and Harvey hiking together up Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4868  Harvey discusses trail issues with Rulon and Marie. IMG 4876  Still about two miles up Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4878  About two miles up Keet Seel Canyon.
IMG 4880  Purple Thistle in Keet Seel Canyon IMG 4882  About two miles up Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4887  Jim, Rulon and our guide Harvey pose for a picture. IMG 4896  Keet Seel Canyon
IMG 4899  Rulon Wetherill IMG 4900 IMG 4915  The streambed in Keet Seel Canyon often runs over solid rock. IMG 4926  The first of several waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon. Harvey Leake, Jim Shaffner and Rulon Wetherill.
IMG 4933  The first of several waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon IMG 4935  The first of several waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon IMG 4941  The top of the first waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4944  A view from the top of the first waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon.
IMG 4949  The black layers in this cut bank are layers of peat laid down by an ancient lake eons ago. IMG 4954  Purple flower of the Bee Weed. IMG 4961  Keet Seel Canyon narrows the closer it gets to the ruins. IMG 4966  The second waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon.
IMG 4973  It is actually a little tough climbing the rocks to get above the second waterfall. IMG 4974 IMG 4980  The third waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4982  The third waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon.
IMG 4983  The third waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4984  The third waterfall in Keet Seel Canyon. IMG 4985  Marie Garcia Shaffner at the Keet Seel camp grounds FINALLY.  After setting up our tents we went across the stream to contact the ranger for a tour of Keet Seel. IMG 4991  This may be socks hanging in a Gambel Oak branch after being wet and muddy all day.
IMG 4988  A view of the alcove Keet Seel is viewed from the camp grounds. IMG 4992  A Douglas Fir tree that may be as old as 200 years.  It was surely here when Richard Wetherill visited the ruins in 1885.  The tree is adjacent to the Keet Seel camp grounds. IMG 4996  This is the area around Keet Seel and the camp grounds.  The trees are Gambel Oak and Box Elder. IMG 5000
IMG 5016  The dark lines on the pink sandstone above Keet Seel are mineral deposits from runoff across the surface. IMG 5002  Keet Seel IMG 5006  Keet Seel, notice the 70 foot ladder in the center of the picture. IMG 5007  Our favorite cousin Rulon Wetherill, Harvey Leake (great grandson of John Wetherill, Jim Shaffner (grandson of Richard Wetherill)
IMG 5008  The Wetherill family.  Our favorite cousin Rulon Wetherill, Harvey Leake (great grandson of John Wetherill), Jim Shaffner (Grandson of Richard Wetherill), Marie Garcia Shaffner. IMG 5010  Our favorite cousin Rulon Wetherill, Harvey Leake (great grandson of John Wetherill, Jim Shaffner (grandson of Richard Wetherill) and Steve Hayden (Park Ranger) IMG 5027  Ancient pottery shards are scattered throughout the base of Keet Seel ruins as well as in the ruins themselves.  There are some shards that are from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.  They were probably dropped by tourists. IMG 5028  The 70 foot ladder to the ruins of Keet Seel.
IMG 5015  The dark lines on the pink sandstone above Keet Seel are mineral deposits from runoff across the surface. IMG 5083  Keet Seel Ruins IMG 5035  Harvey Leake our guide and the great grandson of John Wetherill.  Harvey is an author, historian and the chief Electrical Engineer at Palo Verde Nuclear Power plant. IMG 5040  These depressions in the sandstone were made by sharpening stone tools and made before this room was created for food storage.
IMG 5043  The ceiling in this room is over 700 years old and is still in perfect condition. IMG 5046 IMG 5055  Keet Seel in the Navajo National Monument is one of three ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in Arizona. A Hopi Interpretative  Ranger suggests the vertical poles are likely poles that mark the "centers" of different family areas, maybe clan areas.  Although It's not at all clear. They still stand seven hundred years after the site was abandoned. Corn cobs, remnants of the last ancient meal of these Anasazi, continue to lie about in one of the rooms. IMG 5057  Keet Seel in the Navajo National Monument is one of three ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in Arizona. A Hopi Interpretative  Ranger suggests the vertical poles are likely poles that mark the "centers" of different family areas, maybe clan areas.  Although It's not at all clear. They still stand seven hundred years after the site was abandoned. Corn cobs, remnants of the last ancient meal of these Anasazi, continue to lie about in one of the rooms.
IMG 5053  Wet turkey feathers twisted onto Yucca twine were used to make this string tie down.  This tie is over 700 years old and is part of the roof support in a living area of Keet Seel. IMG 5060  This tree was pulled up after the last family left Keet Seel 700 years ago.  It is suspected that the ancient Puebloan intended to return but did not. IMG 5063  Keet Seel in the Navajo National Monument is one of three ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in Arizona. A Hopi Interpretative  Ranger suggests the vertical poles are likely poles that mark the "centers" of different family areas, maybe clan areas.  Although It's not at all clear. They still stand seven hundred years after the site was abandoned. Corn cobs, remnants of the last ancient meal of these Anasazi, continue to lie about in one of the rooms. IMG 5064  Keet Seel in the Navajo National Monument is one of three ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in Arizona. A Hopi Interpretative  Ranger suggests the vertical poles are likely poles that mark the "centers" of different family areas, maybe clan areas.  Although It's not at all clear. They still stand seven hundred years after the site was abandoned. Corn cobs, remnants of the last ancient meal of these Anasazi, continue to lie about in one of the rooms.
IMG 5066  Keet Seel IMG 5067  Keet Seel in the Navajo National Monument is one of three ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in Arizona. A Hopi Interpretative  Ranger suggests the vertical poles are likely poles that mark the "centers" of different family areas, maybe clan areas.  Although It's not at all clear. They still stand seven hundred years after the site was abandoned. Corn cobs, remnants of the last ancient meal of these Anasazi, continue to lie about in one of the rooms. IMG 5068  Keet Seel in the Navajo National Monument is one of three ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in Arizona. A Hopi Interpretative  Ranger suggests the vertical poles are likely poles that mark the "centers" of different family areas, maybe clan areas.  Although It's not at all clear. They still stand seven hundred years after the site was abandoned. Corn cobs, remnants of the last ancient meal of these Anasazi, continue to lie about in one of the rooms. IMG 5100  Keet Seel
IMG 5021  Ancient pottery shards are scattered throughout the base of Keet Seel ruins as well as in the ruins themselves.  There are some shards that are from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.  They were probably dropped by tourists. IMG 5065  This opening next to a Kiva was restored by the CWA (Civil Works Administration) in 1930.  Milton Wetherill directed the work which created a controversy which caused one of the CWA employees to leave Keet Seel in protest.  This reconstruction was not construcion that the Ancients would have used. IMG 5107  A handle made from twisted yucca fibers an arrow head that was found the week of our arrival, a bone awl and a string of extremely tiny beads. IMG 5108
IMG 5073  Jim Shaffner grandson of Richard Wetherill IMG 5119  Keet Seel IMG 5074  Keet Seel IMG 5123  Rulon Wetherill, Steve Hayden (Park Ranger), Marie Garcia Shaffner and Harvey Leake, Steve Hayden's grandfather, Irwin Hayden, worked with the CWA in 1930 as an archaeologist  to help restore Keet Seel's collapsed rooms and walls.  He worked with Milton Wetherill who was Winslow Wetherill's son.
IMG 5085  The Wetherill family.  Our favorite cousin, Rulon Wetherill, Harvey Leake (great grandson of John Wetherill), Jim Shaffner (grandson of Richard Wetherill), Marie Garcia Shaffner. IMG 5133  Jim Shaffner and Rulon Wetherill listen to Steve Hayden as he discusses Keet Seel building methods. IMG 5096  A roof support in one of the rooms. IMG 5099  A turkey bone resting on the floor near a Kiva.
IMG 5095  An ancestral Puebloan hand print in one of the rooms in Keet Seel. IMG 5136  This is a view of the sandstone cliffs from the Keet Seel area. IMG 5090  Keet Seel ruins IMG 5140  Keet Seel
IMG 5142  Park ranger cabin just below the Keet Seel ruins. IMG 5145  Chamisa which grows along the trail and canyon walls on the way to Keet Seel. IMG 5146  Gambel Oak growing below Keet Seel ruins. IMG 5148  A view of the cliff next to the Keet Seel camp grounds.
IMG 5077  A view Southeast from Keet Seel ruins.  Notice the benches in the sandy area.  This is used as a staging area for hikers waiting for the ranger. IMG 5168  Back to park head quarters. IMG 5170  Back to park headquaters IMG 5173  Back to park headquaters
IMG 5175  Back to park headquaters IMG 5180  Back to park headquaters IMG 5188  A view from Shonto plateau of Tsegi Canyon a thousand feet from the canyon floor. IMG 5197  The End