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.
After 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. We drove by Alhambra Rock, which is about the only black rock for miles and miles. And…,.we just had to stop at the top of the hill to photograph the straight stretch of highway where Forrest Gump quit running!The silly things we remember. Really! Monument 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? West Mitten, East Mitten and Merrick Butte.
The hotel blends into the cliff top. Camel Butte.We 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?
Not 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.
Rain God Mesa
This is where we ate our lunch.
Artist’s Point The Boot.
We 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.
We took the road into Goosenecks State Reserve as Charlene suggested. There 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.We 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.
These formations reminded me of the ‘ladies’ we used to make with Hollyhock blossoms.John thought these rocks on the top of the butte looked like cupcakes.
The Kiss.Evening 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.