Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Monument Valley: “Awesome ~ Simply Awesome”

AWESOME – adjective – extremely impressive or daunting,
inspiring great admiration, apprehension or fear.

“Awesome!” responded the young telephone sales clerk when I placed an order for curtains.

“Will that be all?”  We said yes and the young waitress replied, “Awesome!”

Neither of those things were awesome.  But on our Southwest Road Trip we found something that  really was:

Awesome is the Monument Valley that stretched from Northwest Arizona up into Utah.

We revised our route north while in Arizona's “Valley of the Sun” (as the Phoenix area is known), after reading a travel article in the local paper. The area sounded too good to miss - and it was! 

We were barely 25 miles beyond Kayenta, a small ‘census designated place’ of about 6,000 people (not even a ‘town’) in the Navajo Indian Reservation, when we come over a rise in the road and were met with an ‘AWESOME!’ sight – the kind that gives you goose pimples and a shiver even on the warmest of days.

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The Monument Valley from Highway 163
We were traveling a stretch of Highway163 that cuts through the vast, remote Monument Valley, a region of the Colorado Plateau famous for its clusters of vast sandstone buttes (the largest reaching skywards for 1,000 feet). This area is part of the 16 million acre Navajo Reservation. The number of outdoor hiking, rafting, horseback riding and camping opportunities are endless. 

There are even two hotels in this somewhat lonesome landscape – The View Hotel and Restaurant and the Monument Valley Trading Post, both just off Highway 163. One warns that because of the remote location, Wi-Fi might be a bit lacking in speed and quality.

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Monument Valley straddles Arizona and Utah
The Anasazi, the Ancestral Puebloans, are believed to have settled in this region in 120 BCE; the cause of their disappearance is still being speculated upon by historians. Then came the Navajo culture centuries before the Spaniards arrived in 1581.

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Monsoon season made a lush green carpet on the valley floor
The Navajo Visitor Center is about four miles from the highway. As Monument Valley is a part of the Navajo Tribal Park, there is an entry fee required for those who leave the highway and spend time exploring by jeep, hiking or horseback. All tours can be arranged in advance or at the Visitor Center. 
Entry fee is $20 per car with up to four occupants.  National Park passes don’t work here.

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Mind-boggling in size and shape - the Monument Valley rock formations
We’d considered staying at one of those two hotels but our last minute itinerary change brought us here the Thursday prior to Labor Day weekend when rooms were scarce and the few that were still available cost many more hundreds of dollars than we wanted to pay. So our 'touring' was limited to the time we spent driving the highway through this wild, usually-sunbaked desert. However, as I told you earlier we traveled in early September at the end of the area's monsoon season which made for lush green landscapes.
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Monument Valley - Arizona and Utah
In fact rain clouds skirted past and drizzled on us before we left the area.

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A two-lane highway bisects the Monument Valley
Highway 163 is a two-lane roadway – it was nearly empty on this Thursday afternoon.

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A mitten perhaps?
The land and monuments are considered sacred to the Navajo. There is something about this place - even just driving through it - that makes you understand why.

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Monument Valley
While normally road construction delays are a source of frustration, we welcomed the one we encountered just as we were leaving the area.  It gave us a chance to get out of the car, feel the strong desert breeze that was pushing the rainclouds above us and get one final glance at that magical, no, make that, “Awesome!” place – Monument Valley!

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A long and not so lonesome highway leads to Monument Valley
If you are planning a trip here in the near future check out the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park website as it is full of information about accommodations, and guides that have been approved by the Tribe for hire.

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Up close and awesome!
Monument Valley is 146 miles from Moab, Utah or 380 from Salt Lake City, Utah, 395 miles from Las Vegas. Rent a car and set out on a road trip – it is one you won’t forget!

Our destination that day was Moab and its amazing Arches National Park - an area that turned out to be equally as 'awesome' as here. We'll tell you about it soon. And, as always, we appreciate the time you spend with us and hope that your travels are healthy and happy ones. 

Linking this week with:

Through My Lens

40 comments:

  1. Isn't it fun to be a tourist in our own country Jackie? :) So many moments "road tripping" are awesome and you've just shown why. I haven't been in the Four Corners region for years and wish we'd taken some time last year when we were in Denver to include it in our itinerary. Such a spectacular area and it's easy to see why the Navajo considered it to be sacred.

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    1. It is fun, Anita. And it is nice to be able to compare and contrast it with other countries we have visited. This area blew us away with its beauty. We do want to return to this part of the country.

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  2. This is one part of the USA best explored in your own vehicle. You can stop for photos or a walk (just don't come in mid-summer). I would prefer to return in a self-contained RV to be able to take my time...
    Thanks for sharing on TPThursday

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    1. Absolutely, Juergen. I can't imagine trying to visit here on a tour group or bus. It needs to be taken in at one's own pace. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  3. So, so much beauty in your pictures!!!! This is one of the places I dream to visit one day. I hope I can go soon!

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    1. My photos don't do the area the justice it deserves. It is so breath-taking, so beautiful that it is almost hard to comprehend what you are seeing.

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  4. We decided to take Lulu on our vacation to Carmel this Christmas so we are training her to ride in her crate in the back of the car. Depending on how she does on that vacation, we hope to be able to further explore Utah - it's a beautiful state.

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    1. Well, definitely put this part of Utah on your itinerary! It is simply magnificent.

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  5. Monument Valley is someplace I've always wanted to do. I would love to be road-trippin' the USA right now!

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    1. Fall was a spectacular time to see this area; tourist numbers were dropping and the weather was simply beautiful. Hope you get to do it one day, Corinne.

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  6. It's such an awesome landscape, and the great cloud formations you had that day made your photos that much more awesome. If the price wasn't too dear, I'd happily give up WiFi to get to stay nearby and prolong my visit.

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    1. I do think we'll stay on a future stay when a holiday isn't looming and raising prices to a ridiculous level. And I am a sucker for cloud photos - glad you picked up on that! ;-)

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  7. Monument valley is awesome. Thanks for the photos. If you continue on the road into Utah, you will get to the Arches National park and can do the Mighty 5 (although it will take a while).

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    1. Those are coming up in future posts, Rhonda. It was simply an amazing route through southeastern Utah! Thanks for the visit!!

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  8. Awesome - is a great description for Monument Valley. We loved it.

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    1. Yes, Lyn, if there ever was a time to use the word 'awesome' it was while driving through Monument Valley! Thanks for stopping by ~

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  9. Hi Jackie. Your photos are gorgeous, and I would love to see Monument Valley with my own eyes. Maybe when I am back in North America for more than a minute I'll plan a road trip of my own. :) Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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    1. Oh I hope when you are spending more time in the North American part of the world that you do get to do a road trip through this area, Nancie, as is really is 'awesome'!

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  10. You are correct, AWESOME! Shocking how gorgeous southern Utah is.

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    1. Charles, that is such a good way of putting it: shocking! I can't believe how spectacular it was - and we'd never put it high on our routes before - now it is a must return! Thanks much for stopping by~

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  11. Monument Valley provides the ultimate views of what we all think of as the West. Straight out of Roadrunner cartoons. Awesome is so overused, but in this case, so appropriate.

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    1. It is with a bit of Bonanza and Wagon Train tossed in. It really is an awesome part of the United States - no doubt about it. Thanks much for the visit - as always, it is appreciated!!!

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  12. I would love to go here. Awesome is overused, but what other would be appropriate? Magnificent? Spectacular? Awesome post! Thank you :-)

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    1. Thanks much, Suzanne. It really is an awesome part of the United States - I hope more visitors from abroad skip the big cities and instead add this to their itinerary!

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  13. I stayed at the View Hotel a few years ago and it was amazing to see Monument Valley not only at sunrise but also at sun down.So glad I brought my tripod. I had to book ages in advance and although it wasn't ultra expensive, it wasn't cheap either. But is was worth it. I also visited Moab and the two parks there and am looking forward to reading your post.

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    1. We are envious of your stay, Janice, and hope to return one day and stay in the Valley as well. Next time we'll plan ahead and not do a spur of the moment change over Labor Day weekend!

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  14. If it is awesome then it is awesome. I use this expression a lot because like your photos indicate, this is indeed awesome. :)

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    1. Some places are indeed, awesome Paula and this ranks right up there with them. My purchase of curtains wasn't 'awesome'!! Thanks for the visit ~ :-)

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  15. Monument Valley and surrounds is indeed an "awesome" area.

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    1. Glad I am not alone, Carole, in my pronouncement that it is awesome. I'd not expected such over-whelming beauty there. Glad you agree. Thanks for the visit-

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  16. Truly Amazing. This was one of those destinations I wanted to visit during my Southwest USA Road trip last year, but we simply didn't have the time. Thanks to you I can revisit the place this way! Thank you for linking up with "Through My Lens"

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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    1. Oh Mersad, your photography skills would have brought this area to life so much better than mine did. It really was stunning and I am sorry with your talents and eye for beauty that you missed it. "Next time. . ." as we always say!

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  17. Looks like a sunny place! Fascinating landscape, but must be hard to make some living...

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    1. Uranium mining and tourism pretty much drives the economy of this area (mining near Moab, that is) and it is an amazing landscape! Thanks for the visit and the comment ~

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  18. Thanks for taking me with you to Monument Valley. I've never been. It's certainly true that nothing is as awesome as nature. I had the same feeling when I visited the Grand Canyon. There were no words to describe it.

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    1. The scenes developed by Mother Nature really do leave you at a loss for words, don't they Irene? We've not done the Grand Canyon loop so hope to get that accomplished in the not-so-distant future.

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  19. When I was in Arizona last year, friends told me to visit Monument Valley...I wish I would have made the time after reading you article and gazing at your beautiful photos!! Next time I'll make the time!!

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    1. Can't tell you how many times we've driven to Arizona through the flatter-more-'boring' part of Utah. This will now be on our radar for all future trips. Do make time next time, Marilyn, as it is absolutely stunning!

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  20. Thx for the trip back down memory lane! I haven't been to the Monument Valley for quite some time, but your post reminded me how remarkable it it. It's been a long while since I was last in Utah, but I believe the stars are aligning to bring me back.

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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