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Monument Valley, AZ

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399 20 1
Guide 20 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Hotevilla
Rated
4.5
4.5 of 5 by 8
 
4
Statistics
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,289 feet
Elevation Gain 594 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.98
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
26  2017-03-28 Oregon_Hiker
11  2015-08-21 Hippy
17  2014-12-26 Lucyan
7  2014-09-29 AZWanderingBear
24  2014-07-08
Monument Valley 4WD loop
DarthStiller
37  2014-05-28 outdoor_lover
19  2013-11-02 RickVincent
50  2012-08-18 CannondaleKid
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Navajo Nation Reservation
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Reservation Navajo Nation
Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Mar
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:08am - 6:18pm
Route
 
1 Alternative
 
Water
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby

Monument Valley is one of the most photographed landscapes in the world. For 80 years this area has served as a backdrop to the quintessential western movie. It has become what we expect the "old west" to look like. Perhaps this is why this destination attracts so many foreign visitors?

The valley is still a traditional Navajo homeland and is now only accessible by private vehicle and guided tours on designated primitive roads. Horseback tours are also available, but no backcountry hiking or biking is allowed. "Hiking" is restricted to designated loop trails near the numerous stops along the primitive road.

Mike and I wake up well before dawn to capture the morning sunrise near the Monument Valley Visitor's Center. The thermometer at the Visitor's Center reads on 27 degrees F on this late February morning. Too bad the Visitor Center and entrance to valley drive doesn't open until 8:00 am... sure could have used a warm-up coffee!

With our sunrise photos taken, we head back to our "base-camp" at Goulding's Lodge for a hearty breakfast prior to meeting up with Rosie, our Navajo Guide for the day. Our 4WD vehicle pulls up to the lodge and takes on its five passengers - Mike and his wife Sandy, along with a couple visiting from Windsor England, Philip and Marilyn. As we leave Goulding's Lodge we are greeted with a classic horizon view that includes (from L to R) Eagle Mesa, King on the Throne, Stagecoach Butte, Bear & Rabbit, Big Indian, and Sentinel Mesa. We cross over Hwy 163 and head east up Monument Valley Road towards the Visitor's Center. To the south we view Mitchell Butte and Gray Wiskers Butte.

At the Visitor's Center some of the classic views of Monument Valley from Lookout Point are obtained. The West & East Mittens are prominent from this vantage. Merrick Butte, Elephant Butte, and Camel Butte can be seen on the left side of the primitive road.

We soon make our way along the dusty, bumpy, but incredibly beautiful route. We stop to take in the view of the Mittens and Merrick Butte from the south. Our Navajo Guide, Rosie, elaborates that Merrick Butte has been featured in some recent movie scenes such as Mission Impossible and Cliff Hanger as well some automobile television commercials and music videos. She also mentions that remains of an ancient Hogan were discovered on the top of Merrick Butte during the filming of the commercials. Foot holds used by the ancients to access the Hogan were also discovered during the filming of Cliff Hanger by the climbers rappelling up and down the sandstone cliff face.

Next destination is John Ford Point, named after the famous western movie director who made a star out of the actor John Wayne. The point was frequently used to position cameras capturing the wide open spaces made famous in movies such as "Stage Coach" and "Rio Grande". From the point there's also an interesting view of the camel head from Camel Butte.

We hop back into our 4WD vehicle for a 1 1/2 mile drive to the North Window. A short walk-about yields views of The Thumb and The Three Sisters. To the south Spearhead Mesa and Rain God Mesa can be seen.

We move on to Artists Point followed by Sand Spring and Gypsum Creek to view the famous Totem Pole and Yei bi Chei.

Near God's Eye Arch, Rosie shows us a petroglyph panel. A challenging walk up a sand dune takes us to Ear-of-the-Wind Arch. I discover after-the-fact that it is possible to walk beyond Ear-of-the-Wind Arch to another set of Anasazi ruins called Echo Cave Ruins.

With the sun beginning to get low, we stop briefly to view Sun's Eye Arch, Donut Arch, and others. The ride back along the primitive road is particularly dusty as it seems we've hit rush hour traffic. The gates of the Visitor's Center close promptly at 5:00 pm and this causes everyone visiting the valley to all leave together trying to extract maximum viewing time!

Note that Monument Valley is located on Navajo Lands. There is a self-guided loop on a primitive road, but Navajo Guides have access privileges to many restricted areas. I personally found these restricted areas more interesting than the general access areas. There are numerous, professionally run companies providing registered Navajo Guides at a reasonable cost. Winter is off-season and prices are at their lowest. Visiting tourists are also at their lowest numbers. Goulding's Lodge is a personal favorite and can be reached at 435-727-3231 or www.gouldings.com. Their winter 2006 rate of $225 for 2 nights, 2 people, plus an all day, 8+ hour tour/hike of Mystery Valley and Monument Valley is well worth the price. Apologize for the shameless plug, but one has to experience these famous landmarks at least once in their lifetime. My GPS indicated that we traveled 30.7 miles from Goulding's Lodge through Monument Valley and back to the lodge. With numerous stops to explore and take in the views, covered almost 2 of those miles on foot. Enjoy!

Check out the Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2006-03-03 Randal_Schulhauser

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Monument Valley
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Last big stop on 4-day road trip to celebrate my Mom's 80th birthday. Drove the bumpy Navajo road through the Valley. Needless to say Mom and my cousin who accompanied her were appropriately impressed. You don't get these kinds of views in south Georgia.

    Below is a link to video of the entire road trip (AZ, NM, CO, UT). The Monument Valley portion is towards the end.

    https://www.youtube.co...
    Monument Valley
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Day 6 of my Trip...

    I have seen the Edges of this Incredible Area a few times, but was always on my Way to Somewhere Else and either didn't have the Time, or the Opportunity to Stop...This Day was going to be different...I was finally going to really see this Place... :D

    The Day before, I spent all day in Canyon De Chelly and elected to not spend the Night there, so I continued to drive on up, after inquiring about Camping Options in Chinle...Too bad, the Worker at the Service Station kinda misquoted the Price of where he sent me, but by the time I got there, it didn't matter, it was almost Midnight Navajo Time and I was way done...They had a Honor System going that Late at Gouldings, so I found one Spot left on a Wednesday Night right next to the Bathroom...That Campground was very large and also packed to the Gills... :o Unlike the White Mountains, I'll bet the Low Temp on this Night was about 80 and I had trouble sleeping, it was pretty warm... :sweat: I got up and paid the next morning and almost had a Heart Attack at the 28.00 Fee for a Tent Site...But, in their defense I guess, you can take a Free Shower and there's a ton of Amenities there.... ;)

    I didn't get into the Monument until late Morning, so the Light was Harsh with a few Clouds...After Inquiring about the Scenic Drive and being told that it can be "iffy" and the Road was pretty rough right now, I went out to the Overlook to check it out...What I saw of the Road is not a good Indication of what it's really like...It looked pretty Smooth from up there.... :sl: Even though they recommend no Cars, only High Clearance or 4x4, there were Cars taking it...After Driving that, I wouldn't have subjected a Car to it...But the Escape did great, even though it was a little Hairy going back up the Switchbacks with Street Tires that are now less than Optimal... :sweat:

    Amazing Drive with Amazing Views...I think I spent about 4 Hours out there...I'm glad I didn't opt for a Tour since those Guys rarely stopped anywhere and were done in just over an Hour...The Handouts I got said this Loop was 17 Miles, but it was nowhere near that...I'm thinking the the Outer Loop, that the Guided Tours take, is the difference there...You can't do the Outer Loop without a Guide...I think my Drive was around 11 Miles total...

    As my little Tour progressed, the Light improved and more and more Clouds starting coming in...Although it was 90+ Down There, it didn't feel like it most of the Time...By the time I got back within a Mile of the Visitor's Center, the Wind had really started picking up and it was becoming almost Monsoonish with a big Sandstorm in the Middle of it.... :sweat:

    I took a break and ate some Lunch and then went back into the Visitor's Center and Logged in to the Hike...(Separate Triplog and Photoset) I had hesitated to do it with the Temps when I got here, as it looked to be a Hike with absolutely No Shade...But the turning Weather made it a No-Brainer and so I was off on Foot...I was determined to see as much as I could on this Day and also get my 20.00 worth of Admission... :D

    When I got back after my Hike, I decided to go out of the Park and drive the Highway towards Mexican Hat just to see more...I didn't get very far as the Weather was providing some great Photo Ops...I debated when I drove back whether to hit the Sunset inside the Monument, but I decided against it....The Air was getting pretty Brown and although I'm sure if the Sun and Clouds cooperated and made for a Great Finale, I was pretty beat and had decided not to spend any more $$$ here, thus no Camping here tonight...So, I had another 2+ Hours of driving to do to get to my Aunt's House in Cortez, CO...I fueled up the Escape and myself in Kayenta and headed out to a Shower and a Real Bed that Night...

    I don't know why it took me so long to see this Place, but it doesn't matter, Return Trips will be forthcoming at some Point...There is a reason this is one of the most Photographed Places in the Country...It's a Real Gem! : app :

    Photos: I think you guys can only imagine how many I ended up with. :sl: I knocked the number down as best I could and still be able to take you on the Trip.... :)
    Monument Valley
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I've traveled across so much of this state and after highlighting my Arizona map of all the highways and roads I've traveled on, I realized that I had never really stepped foot in the upper northeast corner of Arizona. So, Anna and I, and our friends Pete and Chelsea set out for Monument Valley and Canyon De Chelly.
    Monument Valley
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Colorado Tales 2012
    Colorado Tales 2012

    5 days
    1296 miles
    65 gallons of gasoline
    379 digital images
    1 relatively trouble-free drive
    Clean, crisp mountain air
    Vintage railways
    Ghost towns
    Choice eats and beverages (Colorado microbreweries!)
    No work distractions
    Priceless!

    The Plan => Thursday 7/26 rendezvous at the Danzl residence in Sedona AZ, truck pool, and hit the road to the Danzl Colorado Cottage along the Dolores River between Dolores CO and Stoner CO in the San Juan Mountains.

    My 2012 quarterly wilderness adventures have been limited to "Anza Borrego California Tales 2012" (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=18664 ) and "Oregon Tales 2012" (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=20147 ), so with X consecutive days of 100degF Valley weather, a trek to the high country seemed in order. The Colorado Rockies would certainly satisfy that requirement, so my Coyotes' season ticket co-holder, Ralph Danzl suggested his Colorado Cottage as a base camp to escape the heat. With no definitive plans, other than our base camp, we hit the road and ended up at the following destinations;

    A. Ahwatukee AZ - ground zero, home
    B. Sedona AZ - rendezvous at Danzl's Bell Rock Blvd. residence
    C. Kayenta AZ - stop at the local Burger King
    D. Monument Valley AZ/UT - first visit for the Danzl's (check out => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=857 and http://www.americansouthwest.net/utah/m ... e-map.html )
    E. Bluff UT - stop for gas
    F. Hovenweep Ruins UT - also "Canyon of the Ancients" including Painted Hand and Lowry Pueblo (check out => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=12961 )
    G. Dolores CO - base camp at Danzl Colorado Cottage off Hwy 145 on Road 37 (CR36 on map)
    H. Ophir Pass CO - off-roading with side treks to Crystal Lake and Lookout Peak (check out => http://www.narrowgauge.org/4x4/html/ophir.html )
    I. Silverton CO - Silverton Brewery for eats (check out => www.silvertonbrewing.com )
    J. Animas Forks CO - off-roading to ghost town (check out => http://www.coloradopast.com/index.php?c ... as%20Forks and http://www.narrowgauge.org/4x4/html/sil_af.html )
    K. Durango CO - a drive on the "Million Dollar Highway" (check out => http://www.rmpbs.org/byways/sjs_map.html )
    L. Dolores CO - Dolores River Brewery for eats (check out => http://www.doloresriverbrewery.com/ ) and base camp at Danzl Colorado Cottage
    M. Dunton CO - along FR535 and West Dolores River valley trekking to Lizard Head Wilderness (check out => http://www.visittelluride.com/things-to ... wilderness )
    N. Telluride CO - Smuggler Joe's MicroBrew for eats (check out => http://www.smugglerjoestelluride.com/or ... mmary.aspx and http://coloradobeer.org/brewers )
    O. Rico CO - ghost town (check out => http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/rico.html )
    P. Taylor Mesa CO - wildlife spotting along FR545
    Q. Dolores CO - supplies and Galloping Goose Museum (check out => http://www.gallopinggoose5.com/ ) plus base camp at Danzl Colorado Cottage
    R. Mesa Verde CO - for future reference (check out => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=13496 )
    S. Tuba City AZ - pit stop on the road home
    T. Sedona AZ - collect my wheels at the Danzl residence
    U. Ahwatukee AZ - home again...



    DAY 1 - Thursday 7/26
    Ahwatukee AZ to Sedona AZ
    129 miles
    2 hrs 19 min 1-way per Google Maps

    Rendezvous at the Danzl residence off Bell Rock Blvd and hit the road early morning for the Colorado mountains....



    DAY 2 - Friday 7/27
    Sedona AZ to Dolores CO via Monument Valley and Hovenweep Ruins
    341 miles
    7 hrs 17 min per Google Maps

    On the road to Danzl's Colorado Cottage along the Dolores River between Dolores CO and Stoner CO with stops at Monument Valley and Hovenweep Ruins. Exited Monument Valley just as a deluge hit. With a side trip into uncharted territory (that would be Hovenweep UT, check out => http://www.nps.gov/hove/index.htm ), we discover "Canyon of the Ancients" and signage for some vaguely familiar ruins (Cutthroat Castle, Painted Hand Pueblo, Lowry Pueblo, etc). I'm filing this for a future trek (check out => http://www.nps.gov/hove/planyourvisit/u ... rMap-2.pdf and http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/nm/canm.html ). Our plans to pick up supplies in Dolores CO are thwarted by the time zone change as we arrive into town at 8pm local time only to discover all the grocery stores closed! Good thing we have some ground beef in the cooler and we're able to pick-up some buns at the local gas station. We arrive at the Danzl Cottage in a light rain. Ralph gets the water turned on while Brian and I get the old-school BBQ fired up with briquettes and mesquite chips. Burgs and beverages to put a bookend on the day...



    DAY 3 - Saturday 7/28
    Dolores CO to Ophir Pass to Animas Forks and Durango CO return
    188 miles
    5 hrs 21 min per Google Maps

    Into the really high country with side treks to Crystal Lake and Lookout Peak near the crest of Ophir Pass. On to Silverton where we caught the narrow gauge railroad (check out => http://www.durangotrain.com/ ) waiting to take on passengers. 4WD trekking up to Animas Forks checking out all the mining relics and ghost towns along the way. I regret not climbing up to higher vantage to snap an image of the entire Animas Forks ghost town complex - next time! Refreshments at the Silverton Brewery and off along the Million Dollar Highway to Durango CO. In Durango, we pick up steaks, fresh picked corn-on-the-cob, mushrooms, onions, etc. for an evening feast back at Danzl Cottage. Interesting light show back at the cottage as a summer monsoon rumbles through the Dolores Valley...



    DAY 4 - Sunday 7/29
    Dolores CO to Lizard Head Wilderness to Telluride CO to Taylor Mesa return
    153 miles
    4 hrs 53 min per Google Maps

    More high country trekking checking out beaver dams along FR535 and the West Dolores River plus a leg stretcher into the Lizard Head Wilderness. Refreshments at Telluride Brewing Company and Smuggler Joes' Brew Pub in Telluride. Up to the Bridal Falls overlook and on the road towards Rico ghost town and primo wildlife spotting on Taylor Mesa. Plenty of elk and deer spotted. No bears - disappointment since Ralph indicated he's seen bear here every time he's visited. Back at Danzl Cottage for another summer monsoon light show and time to fire up the BBQ for some choice tube steaks...



    DAY 5 - Monday 7/30
    Dolores CO to Mesa Verde CO to Tuba City AZ to Sedona AZ to Ahwatukee AZ
    461 miles
    8 hrs, 21 min per Google Maps

    A chance to check out the Galloping Goose and Dolores River Brewing Company before hitting road for home. Conversation along the road included setting a time for a return visit with fall colours being the choice excuse. Maybe a last week in September, first week in October future trek (check out => http://www.narrowgauge.org/4x4/html/autumn.html ) may be in the cards...



    And that's my Colorado Tale 2012!
    Monument Valley
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I headed up to Monument Valley for the 1st Annual Balloon Fest April 2-3. I had just heard about this the week before, so I wasn't able to get a room on Friday night, thus missing the Saturday morning launch, which did take place. I did manage a reservation for Saturday night at The View, the hotel built on a ridge overlooking the mittens and the rest of the valley. I've wanted to check this place out since I'd seen it reviewed in/on media.

    Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with the balloons. The wind started at 11:00 Saturday morning, and continued to build throughout the day, night and Sunday. The Saturday night glow was cancelled and the Sunday morning launch was cancelled, too. Big disappointment, but I hope they try again next year.

    The wind also picked up the sand, resulting in nasty photography conditions: gusts so strong the tripod was blowing over, sand in the equipment, overall haze in the air and some downright sandstorm conditions out on Valley Drive.

    Can you believe this is the first time I've been into Monument Valley after 35 years in AZ?! I'll definately be back. A word about The View: a very nice facility with a good restaurant featuring AZ/Navajo dishes. If you visit their website and are enticed by the "Star View" rooms on the top floor, be sure to request a room at the far end of the building, away from the lights of the restaurant and terraces. My room cut off the view of the west mitten and the lights ruined night photos.
    Monument Valley
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Arches - Canyonlands Trip November 2010
    Day 3 - Windows / Needles District

    Day 1 - Delicate Arch
    Day 2 - Corona Arch / Island in the Sky

    The final day of this long weekend trip involved an early pre-dawn start to catch sunrise. We left the motel somewhere in the vicinity of 6AM, heading north. We were contemplating catching the sunrise somewhere along the Colorado east of Moab, but at the last minute we decided to shoot back up into Arches and catch it at the Windows. I really wanted to shoot the famous shot of Turret Arch through the North Window. As we were driving up into the park, we could already see a few hints of red in the eastern sky. We knew it was the beginning of a magic morning.

    We reached the Windows trail head and a nice band of pink was highlighted in the clouds over the Windows fin. I quickly set up the tripod and did an exposure of a North Window silhouette before booking it up to the North Window itself. I walked through the North Window and spotted the outcrop I needed to be on to get my shot. Upon climbing a few feet down from the window, an NPS sign on the ground said, "This is not a trail, blah blah blah." The brochure I got from the gate had a picture of the specific composition I was going for, so I ignored the sign at went on my way. To get out on the right section of outcrop, it requires a small, easy but mildly exposed move. Holding a fully extended tripod with a dSLR attached makes it more treacherous. I made the move and set up my composition at Turret Arch. By now the sky over the La Sals (partially obscured by a group of fins and spires) was turning a golden yellow. I fired off a few bracketed exposures and then sat back to enjoy the magnificent morning and wait for my light. A young European couple soon appeared in the North Window, but kindly moved when the alpenglow hit. The alpenglow was absolutely stunning, similar to what I witnessed to days before at the Delicate Arch sunset. I got my shots before the glow went away. I am so thankful for that beautiful alpenglow because once the sun crested the horizon, the clouds in the east were too dense to let it pierce through.

    I got down from the outcrop and headed down a faint social trail to catch the Windows Primitive Loop downhill to the east. From the trail shot a the obligatory shot of the North and South Windows before heading up the north section of the loop. Nearing the trail head, light started to spray out of the clouds and onto the landscape to the southwest. I went back up the trail a hundred yards or so to take some more shots. I spotted my dad up on an outcrop near Turret Arch, he spotted me too and started heading down. When he got within earshot, I shouted, "I'm gonna head over to Double Arch." He gave the thumbs-up and I booked it that way.

    Let me tell you, Double Arch is even better in the early morning light! I found a nice composition in the sandy wash below the trail, moments later a nice glow pierced through the clouds onto Double Arch, I fired off a few exposures then headed back toward the trailhead. It was darn close to 8AM, and with plans to stop by the Canyonlands Needles District on the way home, I was itching to get going.

    We stopped at the La Sal Mountains overlook once more to get one last glimpse at Arches National Park, then made the trek back through Moab and south on US 191. I dozed for a while then woke up in time for the turnoff to the Needles. A front was moving in from the Pacific, and an overcast day at the Needles District was imminent. The drive into the Needles is long, but stunningly beautiful with massive cliffs of Wingate Sandstone underscored by a hefty slug of the Chinle Formation. Evidently the climbers appreciate the Wingate Cliffs, as this is an extensive climbing (take notes, Janelle).

    At the Needles visitor center, some couple was going crazy about some red stain on the rocks along the Slickrock Foot Trail, asking the rangers what it was. The man kept saying, "The only thing I can think of is Cinnabar," and muttering about his knowledge of geology. The rangers said, "Maybe it's paint." The couple would reply, "It had to have been painted by ancient people!" We showed our parks pass and quickly got away from there.

    The Slickrock Foot Trail happened to be our destination as well. We saw the rocks in question, and they definitely had paint on them, and definitely were not from the immediate vicinity. We could not figure out what the fuss was about. It was definitely overcast on the slickrock, and the wind made it cold. It's a nice enough hike, but I could not help by find it rather gloomy. Maybe it's the location too. This place is way out in the middle of an expansive valley, you feel like your in the middle of nowhere. It's too beautiful to be "God forsaken", it feels more like a forgotten sea of slickrock severely isolated from the neighboring cliffs, canyons and landmarks of slightly more astounding beauty. Maybe if the sun was shining I wouldn't have been in such a gothic mood.

    Leaving Canyonlands, it was time to head back to Flagstaff. It remained overcast as well passed through the comparatively boring land surrounding Monticello, Blanding and Bluff. We got excited as we approached Comb Ridge and were able to the name flurry of contorted rock layers as we quickly drove down section. We crested the Lime Ridge Anticline and stopped to look for the small syncline separating the Lime Ridge and Raplee Anticlines, and were successful in doing so. Far off in the distance, the monoliths of Monument Valley were visible with brilliant sun rays illuminating the flats in front of them. The drive into Mexican Hat was nice as always, we admired Cedar Mesa, Mexican Hat Rock and the meanders of the San Juan River as it leaves the upwarped strata of the Honaker Trail Formation on Raplee Ridge. We looked with nostalgia at the restaurant at the San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat, right on the small cliff above the San Juan River itself. We made the obligatory stop at the Redlands Overlook just northeast of Monument Valley, and a hole in the storm clouds provided a portal for the bright afternoon sun to turn Brigham's Throne and the Stagecoach into dark silhouettes under an overwhelming cloudscape.

    As we neared the turnoff for Monument Valley proper, I had an suspicion that the portal the clouds to the southwest would allow for a spectacular light show on the Mittens. I forked over $10 so we could enter Monument Valley. It had been about a year and a half since my Dad and I had been to the Mittens overlook and Ansel Adams rock, and we barely recognized the scene. Well, the Mittens haven't changed, but where a dirt lot once ran up to Ansel's Rock, the tribe has now paved a parking lot! Taken aback, we quickly parked a walked the 20 yards on the pavement to the overlook. My suspicion was correct, and an amazing light show ensued over the Mittens and Merrick Butte. The wind was gusting like crazy, sand was blowing in our teeth, but we remained there awestruck by the light show unfolding over such a grand scene, snapping off picture after picture after picture. Once sure that the sun was fully eclipsed by the dark clouds in the western sky, we left satisfied. $10 for 20 minutes was never so worthwhile.

    We drove through Kayenta and headed through the long valley between Black Mesa and the Organ Rock Monocline. As we approached the turnoff for the Peabody Coal Mine, the sun was piercing through the clouds once more. My dad couldn't see the road too well because of the sun so we made the quick two minute drive up to the top of Black Mesa. A tall rainbow was in view to the northeast, then it faded as the western sky filled with yellow sunbeams and a misty glow was cast over the shrubs in front of us. It was a perfect way to end a perfect Colorado Plateau adventure!

    I was exhausted for the rest of the drive, and fell asleep in a wholly uncomfortable position that left a crick in my neck for a couple days after. The pain in my neck was worth it however. Of the marvelous adventures I have had this year, this may have been the best. I came home with a whole bunch of great photos, saw a ton of new and wonderful places, and just had an awesome time doing it.
    Monument Valley
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Poncho House Ruins - October 2009

    "It was along this stretch that we came across the single most astounding site we would find on the Comb, a ruin that we would spend parts of two days exploring. On a ledge a hundred feet above the Chinle, all along a sharp inward bend of the stream, beneath a severely overhanging wall that soars 200 feet to the cliff top, the Anasazi had built a village facing southwest, comprising at least seventy to seventy-five rooms. In its defensive grandeur, the place is solid Pueblo III in date. It is, in fact, the largest cliff dwelling in Utah." pp85-86 of SANDSTONE SPINE by David Roberts

    I had a chance last year to explore some of Comb Ridge north http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=5467 of the San Juan River. When PageRob talked of organizing a trek viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4067 to explore a section of Comb Ridge south of the San Juan River, I was quick to commit...

    With a last minute cancelation by Capstone Luncheon physician, Mike Mattes and I were able to escape work early on Friday. We piled our gear into Mike's Jeep and were on the road a few minutes after 12 noon. A mid-afternoon lunch at the Beaver Street Brewery with Hannah in Flagstaff and a side trek to the Tuba City Dinosaur Tracks http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=9066 before arriving at our Hampton Inn "base camp" in Kayenta.

    Saturday morning rendezvous at the Kayenta McDonald's where Mike and I met up with Angela (aka Tibber), Anne (aka Oliverr99), Wendy (aka Writealot), Rob (aka PageRob), and Megan (aka ???). A quick ride to the Permit Office at the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park to pick up our $5 day permits and we were bouncing our way along San Juan County Road 425 towards our trail head somewhere off SJCR 491 in the vicinity of Moses Rock.

    Once on the "trail", predictably enough, Rob was finding projectile points and pottery sherds every couple of steps. The cross-country trek to the edge of Chinle Wash was easy enough. Finding a passage down the +25 foot shear walls into the wash was the challenge! After a couple of false starts, Rob found a gentle cut down into the wash via a side tributary. The wash itself is a tangle of cowpaths, salt cedar, and skin-cutting bear grass. Following an eastward bearing we soon came to the main channel cut of Chinle Creek. Rob's dire warnings of quicksand and knee-deep, swift-flowing, creek crossings http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=60399 were fore naught on this day - everything was dry to the bone, reminiscent of Grand Gulch...

    Once out of Chinle Wash and up onto a bench area, Rob pointed out a rock fall area with some promising looking boulders with flat surfaces and black desert varnish - promising looking rock art sites...

    With the group breaking into their packed lunches near the "newspaper" rock, I combed through the boulders looking for additional sites. Found nothing of note except the occasional small lizard.

    From the bench we continued on our east bearing towards the alcoves hosting Poncho House Ruins. Back into the meandering bends of Chinle Wash and a mega-tangle of salt cedar. In retrospect, our exit route following the dry wash was a much preferred path. Anyways, when I popped out of the salt cedar tangle into a clearing and looked up, there they were - Poncho House Ruins!

    We encountered a group of school teachers from Mexican Hat wrapping up their early morning visit to the ruins. That was our last human encounter of the day until we reached Goulding's!

    Rob's images http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=9074
    Wendy's images http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=9087
    Ann's images http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=9093


    Excellent trip planning Rob - you are our Anasazi Master! Great company as well. Next time - Rainbow Bridge???

    BTW - now have photos exactly the same as Greg Child provided for David Robert's SANDSTONE SPINE
    Monument Valley
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    I was introduced to an alternate view of Monument Valley from the extreme eastern end via San Juan County Road 425 that heads in a southerly direction off US163 as you loop north and then east from the Visitor Center. We had picked up our $5 permits from Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and were off on our trek to Chinle Wash/Comb Ridge to explore Poncho House viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4067 near our SJ County Road 491.

    This is certainly a seldom seen view of Monument Valley and no guide required (ok, so PageRob was really our guide... :sl: ). Caught some interesting views as the sun was setting and a full gale produced a sandstorm to create an ephemeral sight...

    Things have certainly changed since my last visit to Monument Valley. The approach road has been resurfaced, entrance fee booths are now located well in advance of the visitor center, a new permit center is located near the entrance fee booths, and of course, the new hotel - The View http://www.monumentvalleyview.com/ has been built...

    Things change, guess this is progress. One very notable positive - there's been a conscious effort to pick up the trash that blotted the road sides!

    Permit $$
    information is in description

    Navajo Nation Reservation
    Navajo Permits & Services


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    TBD

    To hike
    From Phoenix: Take Hwy I-17 north 146 miles to Flagstaff. From Flagstaff, take Hwy 89 north towards Page. Travel 62 miles along Hwy 89 until the junction with Hwy 160. Take Hwy 160 east towards Tuba City and travel 82 miles until you reach Kayenta. From Kayenta, take Hwy 163 north 23.6 miles to the intersection with Monument Valley Road (GPS coordinates 37o 00.246'N, 110o 10.403'W). Travel 1.6 miles west along Monument Valley Road until you reach Goulding's Lodge located on the south side of the road at the foot of Rock Door Mesa.

    My GPS noted 335 miles traveled from my home in Ahwatukee to Goulding's Lodge in Monument Valley Utah. Travel time was just over 7 hours. GPS coordinates for Goulding's Lodge trailhead are 37o 00.453'N, 110o 12.193'W.
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