We left Moab behind after 10 days and headed to Monument Valley, Utah which is actually on the Utah/Arizona border and is rich Navajo country. I don't mean rich monetarily, but rich in culture, history and spirit. We are staying at Goulding's Monument Valley Camp Park. A little spendy here at $44/night less Good Sam Discount, but a nice park. We planned to stay for three days and decided to take a guided tour of this area. This would let Dale enjoy the sights and not have to drive. There are many tours to chose from, but we chose the all day tour with a native Navajo guide. So glad we did. Our guide's name was Jonah and my oh my did we get the tour. Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park and they have restricted access in much of this area. You are allowed in only with a Navajo. Our first stop was a traditional hogan and a "grandmother" inside carding and spinning wool, with a beautiful rug started on the loom behind her. We learned the difference between female and male hogans and how they are built. There are some Navajo that live in these dwellings today and the rugs that they weave are some of the finest in the world. From there we traveled to Mystery Valley where we visited spectacular Anasazi ruins. What Jonah didn't tell us is that we had to climb between 400 and 500 feet UP to get to them. With his sure handedness, we all made it up. There were six of us on the tour and Dale and I were the youngest so this kind of climb made us shake our heads. We made it and so glad we did. Once we were up we had a magnificent view of Mystery Valley and in the distance Monument Valley. We had clear blue sky, but a little chilly way up there. Getting down was indeed much easier and the whole day got easier from there. We were treated to lots of back roads where only the Navajo roam, beautiful arches, petroglyphs and many, many Anasazi ruins. About noon, Jonah dropped us off at the end of Mystery Canyon at some ruins and went on ahead to fix us lunch over an open fire. We hiked back up to where he was and were treated to John Wayne coffee made over the fire and BBQ's hamburgers with all the fixings. Nice break and great lunch. We were then off for the afternoon. Lots of photo stops of petroglyphs, arches, ruins and monuments. We visited John Ford Point where John Ford brought the movie industry to this part of the world and where John Wayne spend a lot of time making movies. Indiana Jones and Back To The Future also filmed movies here as well as Johnny Depp filming his latest movie called the Lone Ranger which just finished filming here. At John Ford Point, we experienced the "Last Journey" with a Navajo on a horse at the end of the point. Jonah took us to Artist Point where many artists like to sit and paint the Monument Valley landscape. Our last stop was a place called "The Window". Here you can look out between two monuments that frame the Valley and all it's Monuments. Beautiful!
On our trip back to the RV Park, Jonah shared many of the Navajo traditions that are still honored and practiced today and sang two ceremonial songs in his native tongue and then translated. Such an amazing day and the Navajo "spirit" is alive and well in these valleys. We feel very fortunate to have been able to share them!
I had visited Monument Valley as a kid, but it is so different from what I remembered other than the Monuments of course. The one thing that I do remember was the feeling of the Navajo and their spirit. Some things never change!
Our final afternoon at Monument Valley took us to the small community of Mexican Hat. Here above the San Juan River teters this rock that does indeed look like a Mexican sombrero.
A little further down the road is the turn off for Goosenecks State Park. I had told Dale that I had remembered visiting this park as a kid as well. As Monument Valley turned out to be different than I remembered I was a little leary what my memory really was. This was as spectacular as I had remembered. The San Juan River meanders through the rock canyon and creates what looks like goose necks in the cliffs. The river is about 1,000 feet below where you stand and is quite a sight to see and nice to know that not all memories are different.
We are off to Cortez, Colorado to visit Mesa Verde and the surrounding area!