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Monument Valley

Like our first stop at Shiprock, the second destination featured big rock formations rising from a surrounding landscape. One thing was different - these were not volcanic. This land was clearly a part of the Colorado plateau and the red sandstone gave it away. I have been on Highway 163 through Monument Valley many times, but never ventured into the Navajo Tribal park, partly because of ignorance, and partly because of resistance to this somewhat commercialized landscape. There is always a first time for everything.


Arrival

The southern approach to Monument Valley on Highway 163 from Arizona does not feature a stereotypical view (see below for our departure), but the low light of the approaching sunset made it every bit as impressive.

Upon seeing how densely packed camping spots at Goulding's Trading Post were, we opted to get one of their remaining cabins. It was hot and cozy inside. Really cozy, one could say cramped, but somehow it seemed appropriate for the formerly frontier location.

We visited Goulding's Trading Post museum in the morning. It features artifacts from John Ford-John Wayne's westerns. A little cultural anecdote did not hurt, but I was more impressed by the Navajo Code Talkers display at the Burger King in Kayenta that we saw the evening before.

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Scenery along US 160 in Arizona Approaching Monument Valley Tribal Park ad Navajo Code Talkers display Irina in the cabin
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Cabin at Goulding's campground John Wayne inside his cabin Wagon and the Monument Valley silhouette


Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park - Entrance to Brid Spring

After paying a hefty entrance fee, we drove a dirt road loop through the park. The road is rough in places, especially on the way down into the valley from the entrance. The preferred way for the Navajo is clearly that tourists take one of their pricey tours. We made stops wherever the scenery got interesting, and that was often. John Ford's point serves as a market and a place for tourists to pose on a horse at a spot made famous in the movies. I found peace and quiet on a large sand dune near a point called Bird Spring. It would be nice to be there in good light, but one would probably have to arrange a private tour as the park is not open at sunrise or sunset.

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Irina Irna and Mitten Buttes vertical More vertical Myself and Irina Flying
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Landing Traditional dwelling Desert scenery Irina and Mitten Buttes Asian artifact in Navajo Land
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John Ford's point John Ford's point in BW Posing at John Ford's point Crafts market Wildflowers Irina on the park road
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Broken down Sand dune Sand patterns Sand dune and Monument Valley Life on the sand dune


Navajo Tribal Park - Totem Pole back to the entrance

After my personal highlight of the park - the sand dune - we continued along the loop to see more amazing desert scenery, small Indian art markets, and Japanese tourists.

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Indian art stand Irina Cactus twin blooms Cactus twin blooms Cactus twin blooms Stigma
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Stigma Irina Irina A stand with a view
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Valley drive Mitten Butte Mitten Butte in BW Navajo pickup tours
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Geronimo US flag Art stand and Mitten Butte Vallley road from above Eyes on the valley


Highway 163

After leaving the Tribal Park, we continued north on Highway 163. A look back south toward the valley is the stereotypical view seen in Forrest Gump and numerous ads.

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Bikers in Monument Valley Picture time Bikers in Monument Valley Bikers in Monument Valley Yellow truck Bikers in Monument Valley
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Highway 163 toward Monument Valley Between the sky and the road


Last updated: March 15, 2015
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