Mar 14, 2014

Natural Wonder- Monument Valley, an abode of beauty, peace and spirits!



Internationally recognized icon of American South-west- Monument Valley is one of the most spectacular and most photographed landscape on earth. Located on the state-line of Arizona and Utah Monument Valley lies entirely within the Navajo Nation. Navajo people call it The Valley of Rocks and their imagination and beliefs see much more in these rocks. At the elevation of more than 5,000ft asl the Monument Valley Tribal Park, is home of very beautiful cluster of large red sandstone buttes, spires and mesas. Most part of the park is accessible only with the guided tours. The most interesting masterpieces are hidden in the remote areas.

John Ford Point in Monument Valley Tribal Park
John Ford Point
The freestanding rock formations with fancy names in Monument Valley are eroded rocky mountains of the past played over by rivers and strong winds for over a long long time! The valley and its fragile pinnacles get the red and dark colors from iron oxide and manganese oxide. The place has great religious significance for Navajo people. Many families still live here and the park protects Navajo lifestyle.

Panorama of Monument Valley Tribal Park
Panorama from John Ford Point- Merrik Butte in the center

The park has an entry fee of $5 per car. Visitors can drive the 17-miles drive to see the sandstone towers. But, the road is rough for small low-clearence cars. There are booths where you could book a tour- either vehicle or horse riding. I took additional Central Monument Valley tour ($85 in Oct 2013) to see little more without hurting my pocket. So, I happened to see few more beautiful arches and rock formations. There are extended tours like Mystery Valley, Hunt's Mesa, and Eastern valley, which explore much deeper into the Navajo land, so obviously more expensive. 

Totem Pole in Monument Valley Tribal Park
Totem Pole

Initially Monument Valley looks like a crowded place but, once you are away from the usual 17-miles drive it is the most unique truly peacefully magical place. The rock formations are exquisite but what makes it special is the peace that surrounds you. High winds and wind blown sand may interrupt your moments of peace during the off season (fall-winter), so check for wind conditions. These winds sometimes block the visibility while driving on the highways too! Well, I had a small sample of the wind and the sand while returning from Monument Valley.

Eye of the Sun; Face of an Native American warrior; Big Hogan

Mainly the same rock formations look different in different angles. I found the smaller and slender rock formations like Totem Pole, interesting than larger mesas. The Central Monument Valley has few interesting arches including the popular "Eye of the Sun". Other arches are named Moccasin, ear of the wind and Big Hogan. Our guide/driver was a gifted singer and his song in native language ... live the beauty ... was one memorable part of my extended trip. In one of these arches he stood singing with all his heart and every rock seemed to respond by echoing his melodious voice! It was very serene and enchanting experience.

If you get bored of the crowd on that 17-mile drive and you don't want to spend more money, then head for the Wildcat Trail. Wildcat loop Trail around West Mitten Butte is the only self-guided hiking trail within the park and is 3.2 miles at 5,200ft elevation. Very easy trail but away from all the crazy crowd and the dusty road. The trail goes right to the base of the mitten and loops around it giving a sense of how enormous these monumental pinnacles are. And how vast the empty sandy desert is. You will definitely find your moment of peace here!

The View Hotel and Restaurant also houses a gift shop, museum and a small Visitor Center. But, I stayed at Mexican Hat a much cheaper option just 22-miles away. I was more interested in its namesake rock formation! And also for the popular scene of long highway-163 passing through the open desert towards the towers of Monument Valley lining the horizon. See pic below :)

US Route 163 to Monument Valley Tribal Park
US Route 163

When in South-west a tour to this monumental Monument Valley is a must! Most of the visitors opt for only 17-mile drive and leave soon after. The valley is much more than just that drive. Well, a little more exploration needs money to be spent but few things are worth it :)

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Related articles-
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Anasazi State Museum, Utah
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Horseshoe Bend on Colorado
American South-West: A road trip
State Parks of Utah

This post is linked to Skywatch Friday and Photo Friday.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

20 comments:

  1. Wow, these are beautiful! Thanks so much for the tour.

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  2. incredibly majestic and unparalleled beauty.

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  3. Fantastic shots. I'd love to visit there sometime.

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    1. Thank you Carver! Yes, Monument Valley should be on everyone's must list :)

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  4. Wow, what an amazing tour! The mounuments and the colors are just stunning.. Beautiful photos, Kusum!

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  5. Gorgeous land formations and skies above Kusum!

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  6. What an amazing place, and fantastic photos of it.

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  7. Spectacular place and spectacular images. Dying to visit this place.
    I hope you are doing well, Kusum.

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    1. Thank you Divya. Yeah, Monument Valley is very special.
      Yes, I am doing fine and thanks for asking :)

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  8. Great looking place - I almost managed to get there when I was in Arizona - but could not manage to tow consecutive days I needed. Next time I suppose!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Oh! Yes, there is always next time!

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  9. Gorgeous formations. I would love to ride that route.

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