Time Stands Still at Monument Valley
Our tour guide slash van driver, J.R., picked me up at the Grand Canyon International Hostel in Flagstaff at 7:15 in the morning. On the dot. He’s not your regular tour guide or driver. He’s a walking encyclopedia on the history and current events of the Navajo Nation. He’s well-versed on the sights that only, perhaps, can be answered by a geologist. He’s even married to a woman who grew up in the reservation area and had gone to school with Navajo Indians in his younger years. And not just that. His family had been in the movie-making business for years that he had his share of personal and working relationships with Jodi Foster, Mel Gibson, Tom Selleck, Will Smith, etc…
If you have a tour guide with that qualification and interesting life, the long journey to the Monument Valley from Sedona or Flagstaff would be one heck of a road trip, not a tour in itself.
So, how was our road trip to Monument Valley? I’d give it a 10/10!
Taking the Tour / Road Trip
Taking a tour is your best choice to visit the Monument Valley. They are highly recommended by CNN Money, Frommers and Discovery Channel. J.R., our tour guide, didn’t only bring us there safely but he lets us experience Monument Valley. He has interesting anecdotes and stories to tell about almost every sight we’ve to, came across / saw on or along the road. Not to mention the dinosaur toy he brought out as a prop to one of our photo sessions. 😀
He brought us to the perfect spots where postcard-perfect photos were taken. He volunteered to be our photographer. The photo below is a proof he’s got an eye for photography. 😉
Cameron Trading Post
Our first stop was at the historic Cameron Trading Post. It’s here where the native Americans used to barter their goods. The bridge you see nearby is the first one over the gorge in the Little Colorado River. Today, the Post has got a motel, a garden, a restaurant, a gift shop, a market, and an art gallery.
The Scenic Drive
As we move along the Colorado Plateau, the views are surprising. The gothic-like rock spires and the badlands that were formed by fault lines and volcanoes a long time ago left a scenery that shows the history of our planet. I couldn’t get my eyes off for a nap!
It was a long but scenic journey to Monument Valley. As we entered a town called Kayanta, we stopped at one of the biggest volcanic necks in the area, called Agathola.
Across the street, “El Capitan” (as the Whites call it) stands tall and proud. The Navajo Indians call it the “Owl that Watches the Valley”. It really resembles an owl when you’re standing closer and at the right angle.
The delicious Navajo taco was more than enough to fill my grumbling stomach. It was everyone’s first try of such native American food—and it didn’t disappoint us. And I, personally, love it! It’s made of a flatbread filled with beans, meat sauce, and vegetables.
And guess, where we had our lunch? We were at the restaurant overlooking the sweeping panorama of Monument Valley. It was lunch with a stunning view!
And most of all, our lunch was at the same place (Goulding’s Lodge) where John Wayne made one of his movies. They kept the original cabin which the actor used in his film, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.” I didn’t grow up with John Wayne or watching Western movies, but the Visitor’s Center has a collection of movie posters that carry photos (or storylines) of the Monument Valley in movies like “Wild, Wild West”, “Thelma and Louise”, “The Lone Ranger”, “Back to the Future III”, Forrest Gump, “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, etc.
Up Close With the Monuments of Monument Valley
As soon as we entered the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, we were welcomed by the towering heights of rocks that stood the test of time. It was like going back into the past when the earth was still young. It’s no wonder John Wayne called it as, “God’s Treasures.”
This is the East mitten. It really looks like a child’s right-hand mitten, eh?
And this is the West mitten.
Can you see Jesus Christ in this picture? They said it’s Jesus in a hood or the one that looks like Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, minus the extended arms. 😀
The Three Sisters resemble that of a Catholic nun facing her two pupils.
Does this perfect view of John Ford’s Point look familiar? That’s because it’s used in the poster of Johnny Depp’s movie, “The Lone Ranger.”
And oh, this is just me horsing around. 😀
The Elephant Butte (left) and the Camel Butte (right). Can you figure them out? I think I’m standing at the wrong angle. 😀
The Totem Pole. Clint Eastwood once climbed this at the opening scene of his movie The Eiger Sanction. Nowadays, no one is allowed to climb it.
The Window to the East.
The Thumb. Does it look like one?
The Cly Butte.
The Artist’s Point is a place where artists gather to create a landscape and bring them to life through their canvass or art.
The Merrick Butte.
We went inside the mud house at Hogan Village, too.
Now, that you have seen Monument Valley in pictures, you need to go and experience it! I guarantee that you’ll have your own awe moments and goosebumps you can’t explain. A visit to these monuments is worth more than what you learned in your geology class.
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