Monument Valley

Blog National Parks

Saydie and I decided to go to Monument Valley just for an overnight. Due to Covid-19 the Navajo Nation was essentially closed down. That weekend they essentially had a curfew in place from 8 p.m. on Friday to 8 a.m. on Monday, we arrived at about 12:30 p.m. from Page. We secured a camp pad at the KOA in Monument Valley, along US. Route 163 just north of the Arizona-Utah state line.

As a result there were some things we just couldn’t do cause the Navajo Nation Reservation was closed to non-Navajo.

Monument Valley (Navajo: Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, meaning valley of the rocks) is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor.

It is located on the Arizona–Utah state line (around 36°59′N 110°6′W Coordinates: 36°59′N 110°6′W), near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the territory of the Navajo Nation Reservation and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163.

Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, “its five square miles [13 square kilometers] have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”

Monument Valley is officially a large area that includes much of the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a Navajo Nation equivalent to a national park.

Visitors may pay an access fee and drive through the park on a 17-mile (27 km) dirt road (a 2-3 hour trip). We couldn’t cause it was closed down. Parts of Monument Valley, such as Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa, are accessible only by guided tour.

But despite it being closed Saydie and I still found ways to entertain ourselves. I mainly wanted to come, for some astrophotography. However, I sort of screwed the pooch by locking my keys in the trunk of my car, while setting up our tent. As a result, my camera was locked in the car and AAA couldn’t get someone to me until around Midnight, so my photographing was short and sweet once I got back into the car. 😀 

Monument Valley (Arizona side)
Saydie taking in the view from Forrest Gump Hill

Our tent was considerably larger than the camping pad as you can see.

Tent didn’t fit on the camping pad.

As a result of this, I think I also got a sticker in my comfy sleeping air mattress that kept deflating the rest the trip. I will eventually pick up a patch kit in South Dakota.

We had waited to actually set up the tent during the heat of the day, but we finally set up the tent and then had one of those monsoon type events that occur this time of year, so we went to put on the rain fly when this 16-20 mph gust of wind hit us.  End result the inside of tent ended up with traveling with us to Utah, and South Dakota. Never-the-less it past quickly and our neighbor at the next tent site over helped get the rainfly on. Turns out that both folks that were staying at the camp sites next to us are from Houston and were essentially doing the same thing we were vacationing and social distancing by camping. What are the odds we’d all meet in Monument Valley.

The rest of our evening was pretty calm, and we settled into a beautiful evening on the Colorado Plateau.

Monument Valley taken by Rick Walker (Trekvagabond)
Monument Valley taken by Rick Walker (Trekvagabond)
View of Monument Valley in Utah, looking south on U.S. Route 163 from 13 miles (21 km) north of the Arizona–Utah state line. Shot with my Mavic 2 Pro.

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