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Monument Valley (July 3, 2009)

Route toward Monument Valley. Stops at Muley Point and Gooseneck of the San Juan River, then route through Valley of the Gods and, to finish, visit of Monument Valley.

Muley Point and Goosenecks


We left Moab toward Monument Valley. Before getting to this mythic place we stopped at Muley Point. It is a short which led us to a fantastic viewpoint. From there we overlooked San Juan River and its meanders. It is a pleasant place which offers an exceptional panorama over Navajo plain. Far away it is possible de see Monument Valley buttes (located 20 miles away), just like a foretaste.

We went down of plateau and made a short detour to Gooseneck State Park to look over San Juan River. At this place the river has dug three spectacular meanders called “Gooseneck”. There is only one viewpoint but it’s worth the trip. The river flows 300 metres below, inside a deep canyon with a series of stepped cliffs and terraces. The water flows through 5 miles of canyon whilst progressing westwards only one mile. Then the river continues to twist before joining Lake Powell, 35 miles further.

Muley Point, Utah Muley Point, Utah
View from Muley Point. Muley Point, Utah

Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah
Goosenecks of the San Juan River.

Valley of the Gods


In the early afternoon, we visited Valley of the Gods; this park reminds of Monument Valley but is very less popular. We drove the trail which goes through red buttes. Viewpoints were less photogenic than those at Monument Valley but we were in the middle of typical landscapes of southwest with a loneliness feeling.

Valley of the Gods, Utah Valley of the Gods, Utah

Valley of the Gods, Utah Valley of the Gods, Utah
Valley of the Gods, Utah

Monument Valley


Once in Navajo country, we drove the 163 road, first buttes appeared in the distance. The landscape was almost familiar as many times seen in films or holiday brochures; it was time to shot the famous road which leads to the park. Monument Valley is not really a valley in the conventional sense but rather a wide flat interrupted by crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that covered the entire region 160 millions years ago. Over the centuries erosion created this fantastic landscape.

Once in the park we made a first stop at Lookout Point, there we were in front of the three famous buttes of Monument Valley: from left to right, West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte, and Merrick Butte. Then we drove the 17 miles trail which goes through the park.
A 4X4 is not needed although the road is rough and difficult. The dirt road goes among the cliffs and mesas. Even if the loop is short (around 2 hours), we particularly enjoyed this place and the 11 viewpoints. Delicate buttes, red mesas and orange sand create that dream landscape.

Then we went back to Mexican Hat where we spent the night. We had diner at “Swingin Steak”, this restaurant is famous for its big piece of beef on a swing grill. However we had been disappointed by this place.

Monument Valley, Arizona Monument Valley, Arizona
Monument Valley, Arizona Famous buttes of Monument Valley.

Monument Valley, Arizona

Monument Valley, Arizona Monument Valley, Arizona

Monument Valley, Arizona Monument Valley, Arizona
Monument Valley, Arizona Monument Valley, Arizona

Monument Valley, Arizona

Information


  • Valley of the Gods: entrance is free and the trail is suitable for motor vehicles, 4X4 is not necessary. We needed 1h30 to do the loop.
  • There is only one trail through Monument Valley, except if you pay to do a private tour with a Navajo guide.

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