Showing posts with label Arizona Indian Reservations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arizona Indian Reservations. Show all posts

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
Monument Valley - Arizona and Utah
In fact rain clouds skirted past and drizzled on us before we left the area.

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

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.

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!

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.

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On a Mission South of Tucson. . .

The High Plains Drifters and our friends set out on a day trip south of Tucson last week to look at the artsy crafty treasures to be found in the town of Tubac, “Where History and Art Meet”, located about half way between Tucson and the Mexican/U.S. border town Nogales.


The real treasure we found – where art and history really do meet -- was in the Mission San Xavier Del Bac on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, not far from Tucson.  The Tohono O’odham, meaning ‘desert people’ is the name of the Native Americans who populate the Sonoran Desert in southeast Arizona and northwest Mexico.

The present structure was built between 1783 and 1797, long before the area was to come under U.S. control as a result of the Gadsden Purchase in 1853.


The Mission was founded by Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino nearly a century before this structure was started. Kino, born in what is now Italy, joined the Spanish order and was assigned to Spain’s Colony in Mexico. History considers him both priest and explorer, as he made some 40 expeditions into the area now known as Arizona and others up the Baja before his death in 1711 in Sonora.


The missionaries were forced to leave San Xavier in 1828 but returned in 1911- a year before Arizona attained its statehood.

This Kino Mission is the only one in the nation still active in preaching to the Tohono O’odham.

The mission’s Spanish mission architecture – the domes, carvings, flying buttresses distinguish it from other Spanish missions. It is called “The White Dove of the Desert”.


If You Go:

Map picture

The Mission is 9 miles south of Tucson, off Interstate 19, exit 92 on San Xavier Road. Hours: Daily 7 – 5 Mission (no photos allowed during services) Museum daily 8 – 4:30 p.m. No admission fee for either; donations welcomed.

And Down the Road. . .

129Just south of Tubac (exit 29 off Interstate 19) is Tumacacori National Historical Park where you’ll find the abandoned Mission San Jose de Tumacacori – visited by Kino in 1691. It was after the King of Spain expelled the Jesuits, replacing them with Franciscans that the work was started on the massive adobe church that was never completed and ultimately abandoned in 1848. It is also worth a visit.

It is Travel Photo Thursday so hope you’ll head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair adventures! If you’ve not yet signed up to receive these posts in your inbox, you can do so using the box to the right.  Or add your photo to our growing group of Google friends also found in the right hand column.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Armchair Adventures: Arizona’s Novel Destinations

“Novel destinations” have enhanced our travels through north central Arizona. Using the recommendations from so many of you, we’ve started some armchair explorations of Arizona. Today I’ll tell you about a few of them as we head out to north eastern Arizona. . .

Map picture
   . . . land of the Navajo, Hopi, and Hualapai Indian Reservations.

Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal police – a character created by award-winning writer, Tony Hillerman introduced us to the Reservation.  

With the help of the delightful owner, I selected a couple of used paperbacks from a towering stack of Hillerman’s books on display at Bent River Books and Music, 1010 N. Main Street  in Cottonwood, a small town not far from Sedona

Thankfully, Hillerman’s  got more than 35 years of writing under his belt and a few dozen more adventures waiting for us now that we’ve discovered this New Mexico author.

I am almost embarrassed to admit that in addition to never having read Hillerman, we’d also not experienced  -- until now --the writing of Louis L’Amour, the author of some 89 novels set in America’s frontier – perhaps his best known being the Hopalong Cassidy series. (Photo is from his website which can be accessed by clicking his name above.)

I chose at random, The Haunted Mesa, from a bookstore at the Phoenix airport. The story based on the disappearance of the Anasazi, or 'ancient enemy’ as the Navajo called them – it is so engrossing that I can barely put it down.  And I’ll certainly be reading more of his books – soon.

Product DetailsI must thank a clerk at Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Scottsdale for suggesting Phoenix Noir, a collection of short stories by contemporary authors set in or near Phoenix. It is not a book I would have purchased had it not been recommended – it is dark.  The stories aren’t those that appear in tourist publications, yet it was one of the best books I’ve read this year because it gave me a look at the ‘other side’ of the city. I read them in short doses and let each story percolate before moving on to the next.

Phoenix Noir is part of a series of books published by Akashic Books; all are noir (dark) short stories and the dozens of cities in which they are set stretch across the globe from Seattle to Barcelona.

This post kicks off a new monthly feature at TravelnWrite – our Armchair Adventures. They require you pack nothing more than a book to your favorite chair.  If you have a ‘novel destination’ to be included in future posts, send it our way.


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