2016 Feb 20 – Day 41 – California and Beyond – Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods

Day 41 – February 20 – Bluff, Utah

This blog will be 99.9% photos of red rocks – massive red rocks to be sure, but rocks nonetheless.  We toured Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods today.  There is no history nor geologic information boards.  We drove 17 miles on rough dirt roads in both valleys.   Red dirt.  The box of our truck now has a combination of brown dirt and red dirt despite it being covered.

At breakfast at the Twin Rocks Cafe we met a nice couple from Farmington, NM who were in Bluff visiting Charlene’s mother for a few days.  She told us to go see Goosenecks on our way to Valley of the Gods and to drive up Moki Dugway.  We saw the Goosenecks today and will drive up Moki Dugway on our way to Richfield tomorrow.

We drove 41 miles roughly southwest from Bluff to the turn-off to Monument Valley.  On the way we pulled into a dirt road to get a closer view of Mexican Hat Rock.

IMG_2705 IMG_2707 IMG_2708 IMG_2714 IMG_2715 IMG_2723 IMG_2724 IMG_2721After taking photos of the rock we drove back along the road and turned down a track because it looked like there may be a canyon view.  And there was  – a great look at the San Juan River.  It carries so much mud along in the water it looks as brown as the dirt.IMG_2729 IMG_2730IMG_1035We drove by Alhambra Rock, which is about the only black rock for miles and miles.IMG_2751 IMG_2752And…,.we just had to stop at the top of the hill to photograph the straight stretch of highway where Forrest Gump quit running!IMG_2761The silly things we remember.  Really!IMG_2764 IMG_2771 IMG_2772IMG_2774 IMG_2794IMG_2775IMG_2776 IMG_2780 IMG_2781Monument Valley is a vast area within the Navajo Nation spanning the borders of Arizona and Utah.  We actually crossed into Arizona to enter the valley.  It cost $20 for a car and two people; the same as to enter a National Park if you don’t have an Annual Pass (but you can have a full car).  There is a large Visitor Center, with a museum and displays, a great gift shop with lots of Navajo silver, blankets, jewelry, books, DVDs, and even a $24,000 hand woven Navajo rug.  You can stay at the nearby hotel and eat at the restaurant, have a guide drive you through the valley, or go for a horseback ride. Very nice set-up.

We did a quick look around and I bought a box of John Wayne playing cards.  Monument Valley came to national attention after John Wayne starred in the the John Ford western “Stagecoach” in 1939 and people have been flocking here ever since.

And now commences the photographs.  I took 478 photos today.  But keep in mind that I created 18 stitched panoramas that are made from 5 – 10 pictures each so that removes quite a few from the folder.  I did not import all my photos here, so don’t panic. There are a lot however.  It was such stunning scenery how could I resist?IMG_2797 IMG_2800 IMG_2782West Mitten, East Mitten and Merrick Butte.IMG_2790 IMG_2793 IMG_2801 IMG_2802 IMG_2805 IMG_2809

The hotel blends into the cliff top.IMG_2810 IMG_2826 IMG_2830 IMG_2832Camel Butte.IMG_2835We stopped a little further down the road at a pullout to take photos of The Three Sisters. Another car was there ahead of us and the dad was calling his three daughters to get out and stand in the same order as the rocks for a picture.  John asked if he could take a photo of them as well and he kindly said it was okay.  How adorable are they?

IMG_1090Not far from Three Sisters was John Ford Point.  A Navajo woman had a table set up with her jewelrey for sale.  We stopped to have a look see and John got permission to take a photo of Margaret’s little girl.IMG_1096 (2)

IMG_2838 IMG_2837 IMG_2839 IMG_2841 IMG_2851 IMG_2860


Rain God MesaIMG_2865IMG_2894



Totem PolesIMG_2876IMG_2879



The CubeIMG_2931 IMG_2934 IMG_2946 IMG_2947


This is where we ate our lunch.IMG_2960




Artist’s PointIMG_2964 IMG_2965 IMG_2967IMG_2973IMG_2975The Boot.

IMG_2976IMG_2978IMG_2984IMG_2994IMG_2997IMG_3009We finished our drive through Monument Valley at 2:30, backtracked up the road about 20 miles and took the turn to Valley of the Gods.

IMG_3014IMG_3015We took the road into Goosenecks State Reserve as Charlene suggested.  IMG_3035IMG_3030IMG_3036IMG_3031IMG_3037IMG_3047IMG_3053There is no visitor’s center, no brochures, no designated names for the formations, just a 17 mile road on rutted, rocky, red dirt to view some fabulous rock formations.IMG_3054IMG_3056IMG_3059IMG_3060IMG_3073IMG_3076IMG_3082IMG_3083IMG_3084IMG_3089We inadvertantly timed our trips through Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods in the best order. We weren’t sure which to do first and decided for no particular reason to start the day with Monument Valley. This turned out to be the best choice as we had the morning light, which was best, there and the afternoon light, which was best at Valley of the Gods. IMG_3090IMG_3104IMG_3106IMG_3110IMG_3117IMG_3118IMG_3121IMG_3129IMG_3134IMG_3140IMG_3142IMG_3143IMG_3148

These formations reminded me of the ‘ladies’ we used to make with Hollyhock blossoms.IMG_3149IMG_3151John thought these rocks on the top of the butte looked like cupcakes.IMG_3154IMG_3155IMG_3157


The Kiss.IMG_3166IMG_3167IMG_3170IMG_3171Evening is coming just as we were about to exit the valley and make our way back to the Twin Rocks Cafe for dinner and the Desert Rose Inn for bed.IMG_3172IMG_3174

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