Our final magnificent stop of the Great American West Tour Ed and I took the summer of 2019 was Monument Valley on Navajo land right at the border of southeastern Utah and northeastern Arizona.
Certainly saved one of the best for last.
The first view one gets of Monument Valley from the terrace of the visitor’s center:
If you have ever watched a Western, or even generally enjoyed a regular diet of movies, you probably recognize these iconic formations.
Monument Valley has been made famous by Hollywood Westerns as well as helped make these Westerns epic and iconic, as this excellent video illustrates.
West Mitten Butte
The three big Buttes, West Mitten, East Mitten and Merrick, are the most iconic, most photographed attractions of Monument Valley, no doubt. But there is far more to see and marvel at, and in the course of one long lovely day Ed and I got to quite a lot of it which I will share here.
In the morning we drove along the Monument Valley Loop Drive that visitors may take on their own in a regular car.
Beyond that route, to the south, one needs to hire a guide in a jeep to explore. We would do that in the afternoon.
So first, the Loop Drive. Here’s Merrick Butte’s southern facade, as seen from the road.
West Mitten Butte
John Ford’s Point
For a fee the Navajo John Wayne impersonator will take you to the Point to take a picture on his horse.
The next three pics zoom in on The Hub
The Hub from another angle, with Navajo Hogans visible nearby.
We are here at #6 on the Loop Drive map.
To the left we have Yei Bi Chei, and the single tall structure to the right is called the Totem Pole.
The Rooster Rock Spire is so far to the southeast that even the all day tours don’t get to it. Luckily my camera has a decent zoom.
Makes me think of a cavernous opera stage, or a large church organ. Or a large organ in the middle of a cavernous opera stage…
Artist’s Point Overlook – a view of Merrick Butte and East Mitten Butte from the southeast, looking from the northwest edge of Spearhead Mesa.
This woman took dozens, maybe hundreds of selfies. I saw plenty of her at Artist’s Point and elsewhere and I never saw her take a picture that wasn’t a selfie. As you can see, I didn’t take any selfies. I took pictures of the magnificent landscape and saw no need to place myself in front of it (although some family members might have liked me to take and share at least one). The fact that I took the picture is proof enough for me that I was there.
And it’s not like Ed and I are purists. Occasionally we will pose for each other or take a selfie at a lovely vantage point. But this day we felt no need. The landscape was all.
Well, mostly all. I did take a fleeting interest in this nice gay couple too …
Looking towards the North Window
We walked up to the North Window for the views from there, and walked about the northern edge of Cly Butte.
The view towards Spearhead Mesa, with Artist’s Point in front of it at the far left.
Back at the Visitor Center
This is the spot, evidently, where John Wayne liked to perch on a day off from filming.
Inside the gift shop
From left to right: King on Throne – Stagecoach – Bear and Rabbit – Castle Butte
We are back on the Loop Drive, but now in a jeep with our guide Marvin. Here we are passing the Three Sisters again.
And now, with our guide, we can go further south, passed the restricted access point.
By the Sleeping Dragon (that’s Marvin you will hear whooping)
The Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei, seen from the South.
360 degree views by Submarine Rock
Ear of the Wind
Echo Cave Ruin
I’m sure this feature has a name, but I don’t remember it, didn’t take a close enough picture of the sign, and can’t find it listed on any map, so…
We laid back on the rock face of Big Hogan and took in the view and the accoustics.
And then, while I was filming, Marvin unexpectedly started singing. I quietly continued filming for the length of his song. Well, as quietly as my oddly purring camera would allow…
By now we are on the eastern side of the restricted access loop.
Arguably, from this angle the Totem Pole looks like a hand pushing out of the ground, three fingers curled and a very lanky index finger pointing skyward.
Continuing north past the Totem Pole and Yai Bi Chei…
By Sand Springs a couple cows hung out. We also saw some dogs ambling about the park.
Artist’s Point in the late afternoon.
The Thumb, silhouetted
The Three Sisters, silhouetted
The late evening view from the visitor center
Looking westward from the parking lot as the sun sets
Back at the visitor center terrace, the evening light reveals a trailer perched near the West Mitten Butte.
As the sun sets, its light slips behind the cloud level…
… then reappears unimpeded from below the cloud level, with shadows lengthening.
West Mitten Butte’s shadow arm reaches out towards East Mitten Butte…
These pictures were taken in late August. In late March or mid September one can see the shadow hand of West Mitten Butte properly cover, or high five, East Mitten Butte.
Back at the parking lot…