Grand Canyon and Monument Valley

Trip Start Nov 01, 2009
Trip End Nov 30, 2010

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Monument Valley

Flag of United States  , Utah
Monday, June 7, 2010

ROAD TRIP DAY 2 - Although we had planned to leave early from Williams, for one reason and another it just didn’t happen. Doog had some emails to write (all the motels seem to have free WiFi which is great!) and then we had to find a camping shop to buy some more sleeping mats as mine didn’t make it through baggage reclaim at Las Vegas airport and Doog’s was looking in a very sorry state. The sign on the only outdoor-type shop in Williams had a sign on it saying ‘Back in 5’ so we went to the supermarket to buy food for lunch and a cheap cool box. In the supermarket was the owner of the restaurant from the night before who had probably nipped in having run out of cooking oil. We then bought our sleeping mats and a gas canister for our burner - we were now prepared to save money by camping (in our $20 Wal Mart tent).

Finally, we were on our way to the Grand Canyon on highway 64, an 80 mile journey. At the south rim entrance to the park, we bought an $80 Annual Pass, which gives you access to the Grand Canyon along with the all other National Parks - including Zion, Bryce, Arches and Yosemite, all of which we planned to go to so it would save us a bit of money.

Our first stop along the Grand Canyon was at Yavapai Point, which has loads of geological information and had a great view into the canyon itself. This was our first sight and the canyon was much bigger than what we had both expected. The many tributaries feeding into the main Colorado River have also carved deep crevasses through the rock resulting in a network of canyons so that it is sometimes difficult to make out the Grand Canyon from those made by the smaller rivers. After taking lots of photos, we drove onto another lookout point where we found a shady spot to have our lunch as it was scorching hot day. We had tortilla wraps with salsa and cheese and it reminded us our time in Torres del Paine in Chile - happy memories!

We then drove onto Pipe Creek Vista followed by Grand View point, Moran Point and Lipan Point to get different views of the canyon. The last view point was an amazing one to end on as it gave a view down the length of the canyon.

Unsurprisingly, we had spent a little longer than expected at the canyon and had given ourselves a lot of miles to cover before sunset to reach Monument Valley. We took highway 64 to Cameron, a small town that seemed to be filled with trailers and little wooden houses, not something we were used to from the States. We then took U.S 160 to Kayenta where we exited onto U.S 163 where we entered the state of Utah and got our first sights of the monuments - very exciting! All the villages and towns that we passed near to the valley all appeared relatively poor.

Monument Valley is the homeland of the Navajo people and some people actually live in the valley itself near to the monuments. For visitors however it was a $10 entrance fee. As we had arrived late, at 8 pm (although we thought it was  7pm as we didn’t know about the hour difference in Utah time compared to Arizona), there was nobody at the entrance so we drove in for free. We were keen to watch the sunset and as the sun was already very low in the sky we decided to put up our tent after. Doog asked in the hotel restaurant about paying the camping fee (another $10) as was told we would be asked to pay in the morning. So we set ourselves up at a good point to watch the sun set over the monuments.

The monuments are really spectacular. they are such strange shapes and as the sun sets they all turned different shades of orange. There was a plaque at our look out point which said that it was John Wayne’s favourite spot to watch the sun set and it also mentioned the number of Westerns that had been filmed in the valley.

Whilst there was still a little daylight left, we decided it would be best to set up our tent as it could be a little tricky in the dark. So we put up our little tent with the door opening out onto a view of the monuments with the intention of waking up for sunrise. We then cooked dinner on our burner in the dark and tried to get some sleep. Although it wasn’t cold, it was very windy and our tent was not the vision of tautness that Doogal always tries to achieve - this could not be helped in this case with our Wal Mart designed tent. The wind made the sides of the tent flap against our heads and Doog was convinced that we would blow away.

I had set an alarm for 5 am, however as we hadn’t caught on to the fact of the hour difference in state times it was set 1 hour too late…but for some reason Doog woke up at 4 am in time for the start of sunrise. It was really strange to see the sun coming up whilst the moon was still in the sky. I did my best to stay awake but only managed a short time. Doog however was determined to see it through and made a valiant effort but tiredness got the better of him and I woke up at 7.00am to find him asleep on his side facing the monuments with our tent door open. He had still managed to take 200 photos of the sunrise though!
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