Our Weekend At The Iconic Monument Valley
Iconic does not even begin to describe this lonely bit of desert in northeastern Arizona, deep in Navajo country. Monument Valley has been the backdrop for so many westerns, tv shows, commercials, and magazine ads that it felt familiar as we arrived. As we made our way from Mesa Verde, we had to make a stop at this legendary location.
We arrived in the afternoon and checked into The View Campground, which has a stunning view of the East and West Mittens, two huge sandstone formations that are perhaps the best-known features here. And what a view it is!
What we didn't realize about this campground is that dogs are not allowed! Luckily our yappy chihuahua stops yapping when she is in a backpack, so that worked out for us. The big dog was another issue... he's not a barker but he's a big black dog! We had to discreetly get him in and out of the RV for potty breaks without being seen! Luckily we were only there for the weekend and we were able to be ninjas!
Take the Scenic Drive
Once we discreetly got the dogs in the car, we piled into our trusty Hyundai sedan and set out for the main attraction in the park: the 17 mile scenic drive. Guided by a handout we received upon entering the valley, we made the self-guided drive on the rough dirt road. With some careful driving to avoid the worst holes and ruts in the road, we were able to slowly wind our way through the myriad features for which the park is best known.
From the Mittens, to an outlook where John Wayne was famously photographed, to lesser known formations, we were surrounded by grandeur. This drive gave us a great view of this beautiful park. Just be sure if you try it in a sedan, take it slow like we did or you might end up stuck!
Go to the Restaurant for the Views, Not the Food
After a day of driving, we were ready for some dinner. We had been told to try the restaurant in the visitor center because of its great view. This was located a short walk from our campsite, so we excitedly walked over, ready for dinner and a cocktail with a view. Upon sitting down for dinner, we learned alcohol is not allowed since Monument Valley is on Navajo land. In fact, it is illegal to even bring alcohol onto Navajo land. (fortunately for us, they didn’t inspect our well-equipped liquor cabinet in the RV!)
The dinner was not one of our favorites. The food was decent, but not great, and the lack of a nice drink or glass of wine to go with the scenery was disappointing. Unless you are really hungry or really don’t want to prepare you own food, you could skip this restaurant and just go for the sunset view.
Take a Sunrise Hike On The Wildcat Trail
Wanting to capture our own special images of this place, we awoke before daybreak the following morning and set up our cameras, ready to catch the first rays of the sun peeking through the formations. We got some great pictures, and upon finishing our photo session, we woke up the dogs and went for a family walk on the Wildcat trail, which winds its way around the base of the West Mitten. It was a quiet walk, and we were alone except for one other photographer.
The dogs freakin' loved this walk! Their wild side came out in funny ways! Check out Paris our chihuahua channeling her inner she wolf!
We only had a short time for this stop at Monument Valley, but we were able to see what we wanted, the famous backdrops we had seen so often in cinema. Since visiting, we are amazed to see just how frequently this location is shot, from all kinds of angles. It was a great visit, and we felt like we had stepped onto the set for an old western or the show West World!