You get a hint of what’s to come as you drive along the scenic route 163, huge rocks rising out of the plains, but when you cross the Utah Border and catch your first sight of Monument Valley the jaw drops and the wows start, then the ‘just like in the cowboy movies’ start!!
After much thought on what we had read about seeing the valley and doing the 17 mile drive round on the rough road, we booked a tour with the hotel. Luckily the next one was only half an hour wait and there were only two other couples booked on it with us. So we had a wander round the Goulding’s Lodge where we had managed to book a night. Actually, as I was adamant we see Monument Valley this trip we had booked everything else around this one night we had managed to book here.. the only night available for weeks either side! It was worth it, the cabin we have is fabulous and the porch looks directly out onto the Valley.
The tour was in an open jalopy but shielded from the sun, as we set off we wished it was shielded from the cold wind too, but that was resolved by donning jumpers and hoodies. The tour started with a visit to a tradition Navajo ‘hukup’ where we were shown how to grind corn and make sheeps’ wool into yarn to make the traditional carpets, as well as some interesting bits of traditional Indian daily life. The road was definitely rough! Very rough! Bouncing around I was glad of the rail to hang onto at times and the seat belt just in case! Very relieved we didn’t bring the hire car down here!!But the views….. phenomenal. The weird shaped rocks, most with names with of their shape or history attached to them, like John Wayne’s’ Boot! A narrative of the tour was unobtrusive but interesting as we bumped along (praying that any of the pictures taken whilst bumping turned out at all!). There were stops along the way where we could climb out and look in awe at the surroundings, and grab a few pictures whilst still. The guide told us that all the monuments we see today were once covered and as the rocks broke away we get the current format so it’s not technically a Valley, not being a geologist I couldn’t quite get that one.
Two and a half hours later we arrived back at our accommodation and decided to get a pizza and eat on the patio watching the monuments rather than eat in the dining room.
Determined to see a sunrise (Amr can’t see the point so we haven’t managed one yet) I woke early and (not finding the car key to get my hoodie) froze while the sun slowly made its way up over the monuments. Beautiful, stunning, mesmerising…. and eventually the warmth of the sun made itself felt on my cold bones. After a healthy breakfast gazing at the monuments we made our way back into the Monument Valley Park and viewed the Navajo Indian history and artefacts in the visitor centre. Very interesting to see how people lived, and how they were treated by the immigrants to the country! There are many similarities to the way the Aboriginal people were treated in Australia by immigrants. Sad to reflect that these immigrants were generally from England and Scotland. The story of the Navajo code and how it was used In WW1 and WW2 is intriguing. It was a bit surreal standing there reading how the code was integral to Americas success in defeating Japan as we were surrounded by Japanese tourists.
We headed f then on the Wildcat Trail which takes you into the valley and around the West Mitten Mesa. It was a beautiful walk, felt very much like we were in the cowboy movies as we made our way. Seeing the huge rocky monuments so close up and from different angles was incredible. We were all alone save a couple of horseback riders we saw in the distance. Taking care to ensure we stayed on the trail, to go off-trail is an insult to the Najavo. The flowers are starting to flower and look and smell beautiful, we saw little animal, lots of geckos and were taken by surprise at one point by a loose horse galloping up from behind us and then disappearing into the distance. Out of the wind the weather was hot but there was an occasional cool breeze to cool us down. At some point on our return we made a mistake on the correct trail and ended up following the horse trail. Longer and more difficult of course, we were passed eventually by a couple of horse riders, and then coming the other way a horse rider trailing the loose horse we had seen. Chatting to him it appears the horse had thrown its rider (an employee not a tourist!!) and bolted. We were glad to get back to the car and enjoy a picnic lunch before setting off to our next destination, Canyonlands.