October 15, 2017 Monument Valley Day 2

We slept in this morning. That was nice. The sun came up and eventually lit up the rocks in the campground. This is such a beautiful setting. The campground was full last night and people started leaving early for places unknown. This unusual bus came in yesterday afternoon from California. It is an older commercial bus from the late 80’s and 90’s with no slides and no AC. Someone took really good care of it and had a custom paint job on it. It was a real head-turner.

It dawned on us that 2 weeks from today we should be home. I am not looking forward to that. I love being out on the road seeing all these beautiful places. There is so much to see and so little time. We have had an amazing trip! We were looking back on the last 6 weeks of our trip and realized that we have not had a day of rain. We brought our raincoats and never used them. We had one time when it rained while we were driving to Pensacola early in our trip, but it was just a few drops. Other than that, we have not had rain. That’s amazing! We really got spoiled with blue skies and sunshine! Bob made his usual Sunday breakfast! We waited a little for it to warm up and took a hike that originated out of the campground to Hidden Arch.

The hike was easy as we walked along an easy path.

It took us higher to a ledge of the rocks which brought us to the Arch.

It was a short walk, but the Arch is hidden, so you’d never know it was there.

It was a beautiful rock formation, but unfortunately the sun hadn’t come around to those rocks yet to light them up.

We hung out on this higher vantage point for awhile, just taking in the view in all directions. We could see out into the valley.

We got a great view of the campground from above.

We found a cave and lots of neat rock formations.

We returned from the Arch Trail and took the View Trail so we could see out into the valley better.

After we returned from that hike, we hopped into the truck and took the short drive down to look at Goulding’s Lodge. It was set in a hillside and the views from the rooms were awesome. They filmed the movie, Stagecoach, here with John Wayne years ago and build John a little cabin to use while they did the shooting of the movie. This is it. 

They even made a replica of John standing in front of the Saloon.

They have a Trading Post and a Museum to explain the history of Harry and his wife, Mike Goulding’s, acquisition of the property and the development of Goulding’s Lodge. Across from the lodge is a hogan where they have demonstrations of rug weaving. Gouldings Camp Park has quite an operation here.

We arrived back at our campsite at 11:00 to watch the Packers vs Vikings game. No win this week. Aaron Rogers broke his collarbone and may be out for the rest of the season. Unreal! At halftime, I gave Auggie a bath. He was so dusty after these days in the red sand desert. All the rinse water had red sand in it. He felt so much better to me after the bath. I hope he felt better too.

After the game, we took a drive to the Navajo Tribal Park just a few miles from the campground. It costs $20 for a car of two people to get in and once you are there, you can stop at the Visitor Center/Gift Shop and take the self-guided Valley Drive through Monument Valley.

Monument Valley is a place where some of the most tremendous natural structures were created by erosion. Monument Valley sits at elevation of 5,564 ft. It extends into Arizona and Utah. The height of the monuments range from 100 ft. to 1500 ft. tall The Valley Drive is a 17-mile unpaved dirt road. It starts out as a 2-lane road and then turns into a one way loop. 

The speed limit is 15 mph, but sometimes you can barely go 5 mph. There are areas with so many ruts and potholes, rocks and washed-out sections of road that you’d rattle your teeth lose if you went fast. 

We went at the perfect time of day when the afternoon sun lights up the valley.

All the buttes, mesas, and spires have names and with the help of the map you receive and the signs along the way you can identify them all.

I have been wanting to see Monument Valley firsthand for a long time. After all those westerns I watched with my dad over the years, I was able to recognize some of the more familiar monuments. I finally got to check it off of my bucket list. Some of the formations you may recognize yourself from movies, magazines, and commercials. Upon entering Valley Drive, the first thing you see are the Mittens–East and West, distinguishable by their shape and thumbs.

Elephant Butte is not as well known, but is recognizable as an elephant facing west.

Three Sisters represents a Catholic nun facing her pupils.

Cly Butte was named after a well-known Navajo Medicine man who is buried at the base of the formation.

Rain God Mesa marks the center of the park. Navajo Medicine Men pray and give thanks to the Rain God, who stores water for the people. You can see dark streaks from the natural aquifer that seeps out of the rocks and leaves black streaks.

Next on the loop was the Totem Butte–a spire monument. (Erosion occurs in 3 stages. The mesa is the first stage, the butte is the second, and the spire is the third.)

The Valley Drive took us about 90 minutes with a couple of stops along the way. There were a few pull-off areas where the Navajos were selling their jewelry. We stopped at one to take a look. At the same place, there was a cowboy standing with his horse on a mesa. You could have your picture taken sitting on the horse for a few dollars.

There were many jeep tours going on with lots of people moving through the valley, but we seemed to be the only ones on the road going in our direction for most of our drive.

Once we finished the drive, we stopped at the Visitors Center to get one last look at Monument Valley from a higher vantage point. It was everything I thought it would be!

From there, you could see the valley road and many of the monuments.

We stopped in the Gift Shop to check things out and then returned to the campground. The truck was covered with a lot of red dust from the valley drive, so he went back to the lodge to use the car wash. I stayed back at the camper with Auggie and enjoyed the afternoon sun. When Bob returned we had brats on the grill and organized things for our departure tomorrow. We will leave on the scenic drive on Highway 163 through Monument Valley which connects to Highway 191 and Moab, UT where we’ll visit Arches National Park. I am so glad we planned to stop in Monument Valley on this trip and I will remember it for a long time to come.

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