A monumental view

Trip Start Sep 01, 2008
Trip End Feb 26, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Thursday, February 4, 2010

After leaving Santa Fe, we had a full day's driving to reach Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border. Typically, it chose the moment after we had checked out and started driving to begin to snow. We had a stressful first hour of driving before it cleared up and the roads were fine again.

On our way, we stopped off at Four Corners National Monument in the Navajo Tribal Park (an American Indian reservation). This is the only point in the USA where 4 states meet and they have a 'monument’ you can stand on with one foot or hand in each of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. We took the obligatory photo then bought some fry bread from the only Native brave enough to keep his stall open in the minus temperatures (in the summer there are stalls everywhere you look selling arts and crafts).

We finally arrived in Monument Valley, also in the Navajo Tribal Park, as the sun was setting. From the lodge we were staying at, we could see the rock formations that Monument Valley is famous for and took some photos of the sun setting over them. We were lucky enough to have a balcony in our room that overlooked Monument Valley so we got up early the next morning to watch the sun rise which was beautiful. We then packed up and set off to get up close and personal with the formations.

Monument Valley is a huge expanse of desert with giant sandstone formations towering above creating a dramatic landscape. The formations have names such as The Mitten, Camel Butte, Spearhead Mesa etc after the shape they take. It being low season and very very cold, we pretty much had the place to ourselves and spent the morning driving ‘Valley Drive’ a 17 mile dirt track that winds around the formations providing a range of viewpoints. It was absolutely stunning, especially with the early morning light making the rocks look even redder. One view point was called ‘John Ford Point’ named after a film director from the 1930s-60s because he used this view in a number of Westerns.

Having explored the area, we set off on another long drive to Bryce Canyon. On the way, we stopped off for lunch at the Lake Powell scenic lookout. However, we were surprised to find ourselves not just looking into the canyon, but also witnessing a search and arrest by the police and sheriff – we sat in our car eating our sandwiches watching this scene unfold, fascinated. Typical tourists! Stuart even tried to take a photo!
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