Monument Valley is famous for what it is – a magnificent area full of sandstone buttes and it is also famous (but to a
lesser extent) for being the location for a number of John Ford / John Wayne films including The Searchers and Stagecoach.
We saw both of these films and were highly amused by them in that in The Searchers, the same backdrop of Monument Valley appeared when John Wayne was supposedly in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. And in The Stagecoach, they seemed to make no progress at all in reaching their destination because the same backdrop kept appearing throughout the film. Maybe John Ford hoped no one would notice.
Tucked away in one corner of where we were staying is an old building which was used as a Hut within which John Wayne lived in one of the films.
You can see a lot of Monument Valley from the road but the best way to see it is to drive off road around the buttes. Within the tribal area is a track leading off into the valley – track is a generous word in part but many tourists head down it in their two-wheel cars. Eventually they can go no further and hence we decided to go on a guided tour with a Navajo guide (not that we could have gone anywhere off road in our camper van).
There are many big buttes like this one
and this one.
This is a picture of John Ford Point and is a classic location for a film shoot – I could not decide which of the two photographs was the better record of an iconic moment – perhaps the first one because it has more of the valley in it. You decide.
There are a number of arches in the Valley,
this one is called “Eye of the Sun” and to one side of it are a number of Petroglyphs
The size of the cave is obvious as is reason why this cave / arch is called Big Hogan. The hole in the top (as in a Hogan) is better seen in this photograph. If you make a sound in the cave, it resonates beautifully around the walls. It is very similar to one in the Bungle Bungles in Australia called Cathedral.
This arch is called “Ear of the Wind” (it does look rather like an ear) and there is a convenient dead tree in front of it to complete the photograph.
The desire to name every object in the park extends to
everything, the column on the left is called the Totem Pole
this group are called the three sisters,
this is one of a similar pair and is called Mitten.
It was disappointing to see that rubbish dumping has spread even to Monument Valley. As we drove around, we past a pile of tyres just dumped out in the open (near a wrecked car which is the small white dot to the bottom right of the photo).
Our campsite was originally a trading post and the buildings of the trading post are still there
and the inside of one room is still set out as a trading post room.
Outside is a stage coach with a passenger and a nice view of the Valley.
We also visited a Hogan within which was a weaver demonstrating her skills.
The Hogan (this one is a female Hogan) is a wooden structure covered with adobe
it is made out of Juniper branches and is held together by its design
with no nails or bolts at all.
As we left, the rains started and we could see a large rainstorm heading across the valley.
It is a lovely iconic place but perhaps not as well kept now as it was 12 years or more ago when we last visited it.
As we drive out of the valley, we get two more iconic views
the view from the road out of our campsite
and the same view we saw some 12 years ago when we were here last time.