Day 5 of my G Adventures tour saw us saying goodbye to Moab and hello to a 3-hour bus ride. We started our day with a visit to Arches National Park and after a sweltering hot morning we started our journey to Monument Valley. This would be our last full day in Utah. It had been amazing Utah is absolutely stunning.
Halfway through our journey we stopped at a small town called Bluff. Here we had soft serve ice cream from the Bluff Historic Fort. I had to eat it so quick because it was around 45 degrees today.
“I’m tired, I think I’ll go home now”
Driving along the Highway 163, Monument Valley slowly came into view.
This road is actually really really busy. It might look like there are no cars on Instagram but that is a lie. There are tons and they aren’t stopping for anyone.
And word of advice, if you are planning on doing the iconic “sit in the middle of the road” photo, DO NOT wear short shorts. Holy moly did my butt burn sitting on the ground here. Here are some outtake shots just for the lolz.
This is the location where Forrest Gump decides to stop running, there’s even a sign commemorating the famous movie scene. Who doesn’t love that film?
“As American As It Gets”
Pulling into the visitor centre we met our guides for the next two days.
From the visitor centre are great views of Monument Valley, showcasing its unique landscape.
The 92,000-acre park sits on the border of Utah and Arizona. While you may think it’s a National Park it’s actually a Navajo Tribal Park. It is run by the Navajo tribes and was the first of it’s kind in the United States.
Our tour started with our guides showing us the different Mesas and Buttes around the park. Among them were the famous left & right mittens and Elephant Butte.
John Ford’s Point
We soon arrived at John Ford’s point, named after the director famous for putting Monument Valley on the big screen. Since it’s Hollywood debut in 1939 in the movie Stagecoach, Monument Valley has featured in many more, including commercials and TV shows.
John Ford’s point is the area where you can buy jewellery and dream catchers hand-made by the Navajo.
From here you get a beautiful view or the three sisters, which looks like a W and V – “Welcome Visitors”
Our next stop on the tour was experiencing an authentic Hogan, inside was a Navajo woman demonstrating traditional blanket weaving.
Possibly one of the most interesting parts of this tour was the petroglyphs left by the Anasazi tribes, who occupied the land before the Navajo.
The trucks that take you through the valley are completely open and it was pretty windy while I was there. I could feel the sand clinging to my hair, so a scarf and glasses are a must.
The tour ended with a tradition pow wow while the sunset behind us. Our guides sang native songs and showed us traditional Navajo dance. We were given a traditional native meal of steak and fry bread.
Once inside the park there are no flushable/modern toilets. They are holes in the ground. The door to the toilet by our campsite didn’t close, so I peed with a wonderful view of the Valley. Luckily for us ladies, the toilet was facing the opposite direction of the camp, so no one had to see us!
There is also no running water, but our guides provided bottled water.
As our night drew to a close, we were dropped at our camping spot with nothing but the clothes we were wearing, an air mattress and a sleeping bag. The wind had really picked up at this point; everything was flying around so I chose to sleep inside the Hogan. Not something I’m ever going to get the opportunity to do again!
Sunrise over the valley
The next morning we awoke to watch the sunrise. There was no showering or brushing of teeth involved. I just woke up, rolled away my sleeping bag and air mattress and boarded the truck.
The dust from the night before had engrained itself into my clothes they were a nice shade of red. And that’s not even mentioning how bad I probably smelled.
But the amazing sunset that we witnessed over the valley was enough to distract us all from the fact. I don’t usually enjoy waking up at 4:30am but this morning was one like no other.
There was another small tour that had joined to watch. The surroundings were so calm and quiet. We really didn’t feel the need to talk during the sunrise, it spoke for itself.
We ended our stay with a complimentary breakfast and made our way back to our tour bus. The weather during our visit wasn’t the best, in some ways I was grateful for it. I had expected Monument Valley to be really hot, as we’d experienced in Moab the day before. But it was bearable, unfortunately that also meant cloudy.
This whole experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Just seeing Monument Valley was magnificent in itself, but venturing inside and sleeping inside of a native Hogan was something I’ll never forget.
My tour through Monument Valley was $150 and it was booked through my G Adventures tour guide, so I’m not sure which company we used.
If you’d like to tour Monument Valley you can do so with your own vehicle for $20 or a guided tour is $75, but this won’t include the overnight stay.
Have you ever wanted to visit Monument Valley?
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