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9/16/18 to 9/18/18 Monument Valley KOA; Monument Valley, UT Valley of the Gods; The Goosenecks

Campground: Spectacular location in the red sand desert with views of sandstone monoliths from your campsite. This park is just a couple years old and is very functional without being fancy. You get ample pull-thru sites and wide open vistas – which also means no shade on the Utah-Arizona border so seasonal planning is required. The views and proximity to the entrance of Monument Valley make this a very desirable spot. There is one other campground nearby – the older and larger Gulding's Lodge and Campground. I can't review it, but I see that It is tucked away west of the Monument Valley entrance amid some of the monoliths. Sounds good, but I enjoyed where we were too. We could see a pretty good distance in every direction.

View south from campsite

Bare bones campsite

View west from campsite

Monument Valley Tribal Park.

This was at the top of my list of sights to see on our western trip having seen so many of the old cowboy movies and TV commercials shot here. Also, I was in Phoenix Arizona on a two week business trip in the early 1990's and regrettably did not have time to fit this in, so I was really anxious to go. Unlike a lot of places this lived up tot the hype.

Monument Valley has as good a mix of hard to fathom grand scale, color (especially at twilight), and historical significance (sacred to Navajo) as any single place.

The view from the Visitor Center at Lookout Pass

A good quick reference is here:

AZ 163 goes through a portion of the Valley (and brings you to an often photographed road view north of the Valley looking back towards the monoliths).

Most people stand in the middle of the road to get that iconic shot that you see on posters and calendars. Or course cars come over the hill at 75+mph.

To really experience this area, you must go into the tribal park entrance and pay a $20 / vehicle fee and go up to the Visitor Center at Lookout Pass. The views from the Visitor Center are outstanding – especially at sunset.

The real treat is taking the 17 miles Valley Drive if you have a high clearance vehicle – though the guides say you don't need it. We drove our F-250 pickup and bounced along some sections of solid rock at 5 mph. While we saw everything including a Ford Mustang on the road, we know that they must have bottomed out at times. We just said “rental cars!”

The other option is to take a Navajo guided open air tour vehicle. Be advised that this road can be very dusty at times.

View of John Ford's Point

The 450' Totem Pole

The website reference above states that “The Valley Drive passes 11 numbered stops at the most scenic places, and a typical journey around the loop takes at least 2 hours. Tourists are not allowed to hike away from the road closer towards any of the formations, but even so the trip is very enjoyable.”

There is the obligatory souvenir store as well as what is advertised as a good restaurant. Well the views are good anyway. Because the dining options in the whole area are almost nonexistent, the restaurant may at least satisfy your hunger. We used the restaurant as a good reason to hang around until sunset.

Coming back on the Valley Road at twilight

A young couple were having wedding photos taken

Mexican Hat.

A small town north of Monument Valley in Utah named for an unusual and aptly named rock formation.

The Mexican Hat

A cool funky local restaurant provided very good Navajo tacos.

Valley of the Gods – a smaller, less grand, but more personal and varied version of Monument Valley – without the crowds or fees. Just drive the sandy loop road and enjoy. Some portions of the road were rough, but I think the Monument Valley Tribal Park road was worse due ot the overuse.

The Goosenecks

Where “The San Juan River twists and turns through the meander, flowing a distance of over six miles while advancing one and half miles west on its way to Lake Powell. Gaze at the results of 300 million years of geological activity, where the San Juan River winds and carves its way through the desert 1,000 feet below.”

A fellow Airstreamer camps out on the rim over the Goosenecks. If you don't mind dry camping - the views can be amazing!

[End Monument Valley ]


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