Once upon a time in the West...

Monument Valley Travel Blog

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The Mittens and Merrill Butte, from the Visitors Center

After a long drive, we arrived at Monument Valley in the early afternoon. We’d decided to camp there so we went straight to the Visitors Center to register for the Mitten View Campground, which we’d heard was very nice with a great view over (yep!) The Mittens formations and is located next to the Visitors Center. But nope, preparations were going on for the Red Bull Airshow, which would be taking place in a couple of days, so the Mitten View campground was closed. So there we went again, trusty guide in hand, in search of another campground. Just outside of the park proper, we found the Gouldings complex, where we found an excellent camping space (see review).

John Ford Point

And yes, there they were again, those Red Bull people… Now I can appreciate events like these putting a couple of dollars in the local economy as much as the next person, but do these people really have to act as if they are master and commander of every inch of space, lording it around with such a show of possessiveness? Such arrogance… grrr… Anyway... ignoring flashy Red Bull people and focusing on the marvelous landscape surrounding us, we headed off into the park to explore, where we did the self-drive loop road linking the best known features of the park. It was all so familiar from TV and movies, yet exciting to see in real life!

Monument Valley is not a National Park, but a Tribal Park, run by the Navajo People.

Joint Ford Point with posing Navajo
Most formations have spiritual meaning for the Navajo.

The self-drive loop road is 17 miles and starts at the Visitor Center, winding trough the valley and giving different perspectives of the formations. Pullouts are marked at the most scenic spots. You won’t miss them, at almost every one you’ll see some stands with Navajo ladies selling crafts and jewelry. And you won’t miss the many tour jeeps from the Gouldings Lodge, either. Some of the most impressive stops are at Merricks Butte and The Mittens, at John Ford Point and at the Totem Pole and Yei bi Chei formations. At John Ford Point you’ll almost certainly see a man on a horse striking a pose in the distance. It is expected that you make a small contribution for taking his picture but we couldn’t find a box or anything so we just snapped away (looking around a bit guiltily..).

After a couple of hours drive, we arrived back ‘home’ at Gouldings Campground with our car almost unrecognizable by the fine red dust covering it!

We would have wanted to do some hiking in the park to see it more up close, but it was getting late, maybe some other time...

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The Mittens and Merrill Butte, fro…
The Mittens and Merrill Butte, fr…
John Ford Point
John Ford Point
Joint Ford Point with posing Navajo
Joint Ford Point with posing Navajo
Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei
Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei
Incredible vistas all over the par…
Incredible vistas all over the pa…
Monument Valley
photo by: Hummingbird