We headed back to check out the famous Monument Valley, the site of so many westerns.
On the way you get to the definitive long distance highway view.
This view is very famous and used a lot. It was funny to see cars come over the hill behind us, see the driver thinking “I know this” and slamming on the brakes to pull over for a shot.
Monument Valley is on Navajo land so you have to pay $20 per car just to get access. There is a 17 mile dirt road through the more famous monuments that you can drive yourself. You can also pay (a lot) to take various tours, some that just do the main road and other that take you into some back areas that the public cannot drive to.
After our experience at Antelope Canyon we decided to just drive ourselves. We just hate being herded around on a strict time table. Also most of the tours used open backed pickup trucks with seats. The roads were very dusty and everyone looked a bit uncomfortable even if they wore a bandana or dust mask.
There is a large visitor’s center and hotel up on a cliff. The road switchbacks down to the valley floor, goes out towards the monuments and then there is a one way loop with marked viewpoints. Altogether it is 17 miles long.
As usual we didn’t get up very early and got there mid morning. This is probably the worst time as the most famous one such as The Mittens were back lit.
Here is the morning view of The Mittens from the visitor’s center deck. Kind of dark.
This is the afternoon view just before we left.
The switchbacks down the hill are quite rough. I think they keep them that way to encourage people to leave their cars in the parking lot and take a tour. It seems to work pretty well because there were a lot of the tour trucks buzzing around.
Nonetheless there were a lot of cars down there that I wondered about. On the way back up the hill we were passed by a Mustang GT going a lot faster than I felt comfortable going. He sure bounced a lot.
Once you got down the hill the road was pretty smooth but there were some pockets of deep sand. In places I am sure it was at least 6-9 inches deep. I felt a lot more comfortable having 4 wheel drive. I don’t know how the low 2 wheel drive cars made it through.
The tours trucks went in groups, invading each of the viewpoints. When they showed up, we left.
The road is quite wide and you can stop just about anywhere and others can still get by.
The first viewpoint was just at the bottom of the hill.
Looking back up at the hotel. There was someone selling jewelry at every stop.
Next was the Three Sisters.
On to John Ford Point. This outcropping had been used in a lot of movies.
I took this panorama.
When the tour busses showed up, they even have a horse and rider go out and strike the classic pose.
It gets a bit crazy when 5 or 6 trucks arrive.
On to Rain God Mesa.
This was called Thunderbird Mesa. We were not sure why. We could sort of pretend that there was a thunderbird etched in the cliff face.
Another corner of Rain God Mesa. The loop road circles this mesa.
The around the corner view of the same point.
The Totem Pole was a bit far away. You had to take a special tour to get close.
The jewelry sellers finally got to Jennie.
This was in the parking area.
We actually met another couple from Ontario at this viewpoint. This is the first Ontario licence plate we have seen since heading south. We have seen two Quebec, a few BC and Alberta but that is it. I guess it is a long drive and most people fly and rent a car.
Next was Artist Point Overlook. We had lunch here.
Next was North Window Overlook. You had to go up a very sandy side road off the loop to get there.
Its hard to see the deep ruts but you just keep going with medium power and throw up a lot of dust. You also tend to wander all over the road.
As we got there the tour people were being summoned back in about 5 different languages.
You could walk up a short path to get a better view.
Our lunch spot was that point with the spire.
From here we were done the loop so we head back up.
A panorama from the visitor’s center deck.
I was a bit disappointed that you can’t get closer to the mittens. There is a 3 mile hiking trail from the visitor’s center that does go around one of them but it was way too hot and exposed to try now.
Our next destination was Goosenecks State Park. It is below the Muley Point Lookout we were at yesterday and overlooks 3 consecutive horseshoe bends in the San Juan River.
One to the east. It is 1000 feet down to the river.
And the west.
All together in a panorama. Very cool.
There were some rafters down there.
You are allowed to camp here for $10 a night although I have heard it gets very windy here which makes people a bit nervous in their RVs.
The view up to Muley Point.
We had just about had our fill of the view when a bright pink tour bus showed up so we left.
On the way home we stopped for a closer look at the Mexican Hat. Still nope.
As we drove out to the hat we saw a huge dust devil swirling up into the sky.