Here's another reason to consider a winter trip somewhere in the National Park System: At Canyon de Chelly National Monument, rates at the Thunderbird Lodge are down as much as 43 percent from summer highs.
The low rates at the 74-room lodge in northeastern Arizona will stay in place through the end of February. Additionally, the lodge is offering guests who stay Saturday, Sunday or Monday nights a complimentary continental breakfast, 10 percent off canyon tours, and 10 percent off gift shop purchases.
Rates per night are $66 for a single room, $73 for a double, $80 for a triple and $87 for a quad. Suites are also available starting at $95 for two people. Rates do not include taxes.
Winter in Canyon de Chelly comes with low humidity, daytime temperatures ranging from 40-60 degrees, and overnight lows near 20 degrees. While the monument does receive some snow, it is generally no more than a few inches.
Thunderbird Lodge is the only lodging facility in the monument. Rooms feature beds, full bathrooms and satellite television. The lodge sits on the site of a trading post built in 1896, and its cafeteria-style restaurant is located in the trading post’s original building. The Thunderbird Lodge gift shop and rug room offer some of the region’s finest examples of Native American jewelry, crafts and Navajo rugs as well as other mementos.
Thunderbird Lodge also offers authorized group tours into Canyon de Chelly in six-wheel drive touring vehicles operated by Navajo guides who provide insights into the canyon, which is one of the most sacred as well as historically and culturally significant places in the Navajo Nation. Guests see prime examples of Anasazi ruins, pictographs, petroglyphs and the sites of confrontations between the Navajo and the Spanish, Mexican and American governments.
During the winter, half-day tours leave from Thunderbird Lodge at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and take visitors into the lower halves of both Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto and last 3½ hours. Guests typically enjoy an open-air ride, but during inclement weather the vehicles can be covered with clear caps. With the exception of hiking the White House Ruin trail, travel in the canyons is permitted only with a park ranger or authorized Navajo guide.
Through March 1, 2011, rates for half-day tours are $49 for adults and $38 for children 12 and under. During the winter, tours are conducted only if at least six paid passengers participate. For reservations, call 1-928-674-5841 or toll-free at 1-800-679-2473. For more information on Canyon de Chelly National Monument and Thunderbird Lodge, go to www.tbirdlodge.com.
The monument is a 90-minute drive from Gallup, N.M.; three hours from Flagstaff, Ariz.; four hours from Albuquerque and approximately five hours from Phoenix.