Made it to Monument Valley

The weather was blustery the evening we arrived at the campground. The weather forecast for the next day threatened our planned visit to the iconic Monument Valley.

I couldn’t believe that the only two days with showers in the forecast coincided with the days we visited the area. Here we were in the most expensive RV park we ever stayed and the wind was blowing the red sands everywhere. Although the RV park was beautiful, my mind was somewhere else, contemplating whether we might have to skip Monument Valley tomorrow. Since our next stop at Goosenecks State Park in Utah is only about 30 minutes away, we could come back in a few days when the weather was more cooperating.

Gouldings Campground looked empty after many campers left in the morning.

In my childhood memory those magnificent red sandstone buttes of Monument Valley had always been associated with the US West. I think this is true for most people growing up learning about the US through the lens of Hollywood movies. The two movies that I remember seeing in my adult years that had been filmed in Monument Valley were Back to the Future III and, of course, Forrest Gump. At the time of watching those movies I was still living in Thailand, so it’s no big surprise that I had no idea where this place was, except that it’s in the West.

As for going into Monument Valley and driving the 17-mile loop road the next day, we decided to see what the day would bring. At the moment I wasn’t hopeful.

The next morning it was mostly cloudy with light wind. It looked like it could rain later but so far it hadn’t. After our usual breakfast at lunch time (It’s not brunch because David made our lunch sandwich later in the afternoon), we headed into Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. After paying park entrance fee of $20 (for a private vehicle, up to 4 passengers) we stopped by at the information center. The view of the Mittens and Merrick Buttes from the information center viewing patio elicited wows after wows from me. Although some of these buttes were mostly visible even from the highway, they looked much more grandeur when we just stood right in front of them. It started to sprinkle a little. From the viewing patio I could see vehicles on the dirt road below, so the road condition probably wasn’t that bad despite last night rain.

The first view of the Mittens and Merrick Buttes

The drive in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park turned out to be spectacular, beyond what I hoped for. On the one hand, it rained on us for a brief period and at one point we had to wait for the fog to clear. On the other hand, the cloudy sky provided soft light which was perfect for photographing and the rain might have discouraged more people from making a day trip to the place.

Ren is dwarfed by these rock towers.
A panorama of Monument Valley
The totem poles
Our lunch spot
North Window after rain
View from North Window Overlook
No words to sufficiently describe the beauty of this landscape
Same view, different zoom level
North Window Overlook was popular among photographers.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend visiting Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. We didn’t purchase a guided tour of the park. Although through the guided tour you have access to some restricted area of the park, in my opinion, the self-guided drive on the 17-mile loop road contains plenty of magnificent things to see. I’m not positive that additional cost of the tour is worth the perks.

Note: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is on the Navajo Nation. US national park pass doesn’t apply. The entrance fee was valid for admission up to two days. The 17-mile dirt road was good enough for passenger cars although there were a few rough spots. RV and trailers are not allowed to drive on the dirt road, but we were able to drive our truck camper. It took us a little over 4 hours to complete the drive including a lunch stop. You can easily make it shorter or longer to suit your need. But it would be a shame to hurry through this gorgeous place.

12 thoughts on “Made it to Monument Valley

    1. It was amazing. I didn’t see a lot of plants blooming in Monument Valley when we were there. But the desert plants in Utah are blooming now. Lots of cacti, yucca, and many other plants I don’t know the names are blooming.

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    1. Monument Valley definitely exceeded my expectation. We didn’t take guided tour, so I’m sure we missed quite a bit of information and stories of the Navajo people. However, we were able to take our time staying longer in some spots.

      Liked by 1 person

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