As we approached Monument Valley, you could begin to see stand alone structures which were not part of the park, but definitely served as a good introduction to what we were about to see
. It was definitely windy, but the sandstorms seemed to have subsided, however, you could certainly see how bad it was because everything was covered in red sand, and sand dunes were formed along the roads, etc.
Monument Valley is a park, however not part of the National Park Grand Circle, it is on an Indian Reservation, and they are very strict on any off road / hiking exploration. We arrived thinking there would be about a dozen hiking trails for us to explore, but we were soon told that hiking around the reservation would be frowned upon and not welcomed - there was one trail that we could do, which we did.
Monument Valley offers an off-road route that you can take your car, or one of the tour jeeps, on and travel through the vallley and tour around the various structures - the key ones are, right and left mitten and the three sisters. We later took the trail around West MItten about 3.5 miles which was nice. We returned to the park later after dinner to catch the sunset and take a glimpse of the valley under the moonlight.
We stayed in Gouldings Lodge right outside Monument Valley. Apparently this lodge has been around since the early 1900s and has been offering tours since then, even before Monument Valley was an official park
. For decades various Indian tribes/families lived on the land, and for decades, people have been touring the land. Apparently eventually an agreement was made to make the land into a park, to help the indian tribes preserve and protect their land from intruders, with the agreement that tours could continue. A hotel now exists in Monument Valley itself with views of the valley which is very nice. Our hotel was also cool, our room was right under the cliffs of neighboring Red Rock structures. The whole area tries to monetize the fact that John Wayne use to shoot movies out here..there are John Wayne references everywhere..you can buy a John Wayne lunch box if you want. Our hotel shows John Wayne movies every night in their small video room!
We are off to Moab now and will be there for 3 nights...more red rock country. At this point we are up to our ears in red rock and red sand (red sand is everywhere)... Our jeep which is white is now a pink and our skin is now red! May 24 - 25
Our ride to Monument Valley continued to provide us with impeccable scenery / landscapes filled with colors, textures, height and varying structures. The morning was not as windy as what we had experienced these last two days, but it was still pretty windy and chilly. We stopped off at one point to get gas, etc, and this woman (who could be related to Ellen the talk show host) was traveling alone and turned to us and began speaking to us and volunteering information on her travels. She soon told us that she just came back from Monument Valley and that the winds were so strong that you couldn't really see anything and that all there was to see was a red rock sand storm. Brian looked at me and said...will we by like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars???. This vision of us wearing goggles and hooded cloaks and trying to manage the wind and sand was very funny. So, we braced ourselves for what may be in store for us!