"A Monumental Valley" Monument Valley State Park by goodfish
Monument Valley State Park Travel Guide: 356 reviews and 1,039 photos
One look across the vast expanse of Monument Valley Tribal Park and you'll understand why this is one of the most photographed places in the U.S. and the backdrop of many, many movies. Towering red sandstone monoliths against a deep azure sky create a stunning contrast that seduces any shutterbug into expending rolls and rolls and rolls of film.
Catching a glimpse, in old movies, of this icon of the Wild West has been great fun since our visit. John Ford shot "Stagecoach" here in 1938, "Thelma and Louise" put pedal-to-the-metal here in 1992 and you can still see the set of John Wayne's cabin in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" at Goulding's Lodge, just to mention a few.
As with many parts of the American southwest, this area was once occupied by an ancient cliff-dwelling people and over 100 sites of their abandoned homes have been found in the park. Today, members of the Navajo Nation, who call it Tse'Bii' Ndzisgaii, live and work in this valley and will be your guides as you explore some of the 91,696 acres of their beautiful tribal lands.
The park is truly isolated - so isolated that Goulding's Lodge - site of the original trading post and, until recently, the only hotel near the park - usually had its own dot on most maps. Coming from Flagstaff, take US 89 north to US 160, north to Kayenta and then north on US 163.
From Canyon de Chelly (our route), take US 191 north from Chinle to Many Farms, then 59 north to Kayenta, and then north on US 163 to the park.
From the north (Moab) , take US 163 south.
If you aren't on a bus tour, you pretty much need a car to get to this park. There appeared to be air tours from Las Vegas arriving and departing from a landing strip just below Goulding's so it's possible you could arrange something like that via the Net.
While you can drive through the area on US 163, to really explore the heart of the park, the 17-mile scenic drive and the Visitor Center, exit 163 at the signs for the park entrance. General admission was $5 per person, per day (over age 9). This is a Tribal and not a National park so NPS passes don't apply.
As with most reservation lands, self-exploration is restricted to only those areas that are clearly marked. Vehicle, horseback and hiking tours, hosted by Navajo guides, are available at the Visitor Center or at Goulding's.
- Pros:Spectacular landscape
- Cons:You'll take too many pictures
- In a nutshell:Grab your Stetson and go!
There is only one campground near the park as I read that the old Mitten View Campground near the Visitor Center was... more travel advice
OK, so maybe that's a stretch but what better way to really experience Monument Valley than from the top of a horse!!???... more travel advice
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