This road trip never ends! I know, I know. Believe it or not, this is only our second-to-last destination. =P We managed to fit five sites along our 7-day route with ample time to lollygag. Monument Valley was a further trek out from the rest of the sites. But, as one of the most photographed sites on Earth (so the site claims), we had to do our due diligence to make our way out there.
Like Antelope Canyon, this area is also part of Navajo land. However, unlike Antelope Canyon, you can buy a permit on site without any trouble. The permit allows you to walk and drive through the unpaved road through the park and hits all the major viewpoints. My poor, little Keanu (the Toyota Matrix) went through some turmoil on this unpaved road with major bumps and tons of red dust flying everywhere. But… he survived!
If it is possible, I would recommend renting a tougher car to rough out this scenic drive. The red dust gets kicked up everywhere, especially with regular winds, inside and outside of the car as well as on your clothes and belongings. Prepare to get a bit soiled out there! There are also tours available with tour guides who will drive visitors through the park as well as horseback rides for those who want to venture off the normal path.
All of the vista points offer different views of the various geologic formations formed by the erosion of the pre-existing plateau.
There are many familiar viewpoints along the scenic drive so it is almost surreal to see it all in real life. Overall, we did reach a point where our excitement diminished since each new monument did not appear any more significant than the last. There were a few that had interesting names, including the two pictured above with my sister’s hands, named for their resemblance with the left and right hands. We were a bit spoiled by seeing such epic and diverse views from the previous few days.
However, just as we were thinking we had seen all there was to see, we were gravely mistaken. When the sun started to set, we already could tell that the best was yet to be seen.
The daylight brings a stunning contrast between the big, blue sky and rusty, red soil. As the sun sets, it’s as though the whole park is being completely transformed. The monuments cast shadows on each other and across the empty space. The sky changes into a spectrum of colors. The clouds glow against the watercolor blend of sunset hues.
Without a doubt, this was the best sunset we had seen during our entire trip. The monuments act as great muses on the colorful backdrop. It was at this point when we finally understood why this is one of the most photographed places in the world. Breathtaking indeed.
Tip: if you plan on heading out here, I would also recommend looking into fitting the Arches National Park into your itinerary. I was sad that we were not able to include this stop on our road trip. However, we heard many good things about this location.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
PO Box 360289
Monument Valley, Utah 84536
call (435) 727-5874/ 5879/ 5870