The sign is clear and unequivocal: Private Property. No Photography. The area behind the sign is empty. There are no buildings, no livestock. What doesn’t the landowner want you to see? As you follow the chain link fence towards White House Ruin, stands of cottonwoods and green brush block the view. Glimpses through the trees reveal that there is something there — a house or a barn. You continue on to the ruin where you meet vendors selling jewelry and crafts. On the way back, you see other tourists photographing the sign.
Many national parks and monuments contain private land, some more than others; so Canyon de Chelly is not unique. Some overlooks (such as the one above) let you look down into the lives of the farmers and sheep herders who make the canyons their home. You might ask “What is the problem?”
Wide fire roads and ranch roads from the days before foothill subdivisions attract trail bikers to the Southern California wilderness margins. Some will dare the narrow single tracks and in some cases local parks authorities allow this. Just witness the Cactus Hill, Sleepy Hollow and Sage Scrub trails in Whiting. Walking should not entail taking your life into your hands, but keen use of all the senses especially sound and sight will keep you bones unbroken and your vitals unsquashed. Most bikers show respect for walkers. There are those, however, who forget themselves as they feel the adrenaline rush of speed and forget that paths in the chaparral are not rides at Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm.