Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

I've Roadtripped to Monument Valley three times, with 2 of those roadtrippings entering Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Both times the weather was stormy. So, my pictures of Monument Valley do not have that turquoise sky contrasting with redrock look that most Monument Valley pictures have.

There are a lot of pictures of Monument Valley. It's one of the most photographed locations on the planet with some of the most iconic images, made famous in movies, like Stagecoach and in a lot of commercials.

Both visits to the Navajo Tribal Park were during roadtrips that included Houseboating on Lake Powell. The San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat was where we stayed the night before both visits. On the first visit, after Monument Valley, the roadtrip went on to Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite, then home. The direction was different after the second visit to Monument Valley, we went north to Moab and Arches National Park, then to Colorado and a night in Silverton, then on to Taos, eventually ending up in Vegas, again.

The Monument Valley scenery is good as you drive Highway 163. It was on my first roadtrip through Monument Valley that I did not exit 163 to enter Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which is sort of a Navajo Nation National Park, to visit the visitors center and drive the scenic drive and see the iconic images up close.

At the Monument Valley exit from Highway 163 you'll find both sides of the road lined with Navajo selling some pretty interesting stuff, much of it handmade. The Navajo Trading Posts are a fun stop all over this zone.

To enter Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park there is an entry fee of $5 per person, kids under 9 free. You pay an additional fee for a camping or hiking permit. If you are a Native American you get in for free.
You can drive yourself on the scenic drive through the park. The drive is a slow 17 miles over some rough dirt road. If you don't want to drive there are several tour options available. The drive yourself option seems funner to me. As you drive the drive you come upon hogans occupied by Navajo, living as they always have.

The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park's Visitor Center is very well done, part museum, part viewing platform, part snack bar, part souvenir stand.

The Navajo Nation has built a new lodging option, called The View Hotel. The view from The View Hotel is the classic iconic Monument Valley scene.


Cheap Tricks and Costly Truths said...

Six years ago I took a group of youth to Sanostee, New Mexico to volunteer on the Navajo Reservation. On our way through New Mexico, for the 14 hours of driving, we learned interesting facts and I shared about the Navajo Code Talkers. We stayed with a family for one week, camped in front of their home in tents. The landscape, an astonishing matte rust against an impeccable azure sky welcomed us every morning and lulled us to repose each evening. Our host family took us to Four Corners which proved to be a monumnental experience. I remember reading in one of your blogs about being on the look out for unusual McDonalds. I know that the day we traveled to Four Corners we ate at a McDonalds that contained a tribute and display to the Navajo Code Talkers. Tres Cool...

Durango said...

That's interesting about the McDonalds. I first learned of the Navajo Code Talkers at a sort of museum that was part of the Burger King in Kayenta. Kayenta is a bit south of Monument Valley. Tuba City has one of the coolest McDonalds I've ever seen. It was Navajo themed. And sitting inside was the elderly Navajo woman, dressed up in native garb, holding court.

Cheap Tricks and Costly Truths said...

Before Roswell, which sports a McDonald's playland in the shape of a flying saucer, I never realized that McDonalds across the U.S. varied! With my curiosity peaked, new road game emerges...collecting McDonald themes.

Durango Roadtripping said...

I was through Roswell once, did not see the Flyer Saucer McDonalds. Did eat at the Burger King and got bombarded by ironclad beetles falling from the sky at dusk. There is a cool McDonald's in Barstow, California. It's a train theme. I think it may even have been built out of an old train.

Cheap Tricks and Costly Truths said...

Thankful that I missed the beetles, prefer the Beatles...Roswell has a new attraction--Area 51, right down from the UFO Center. It's a smorgashborg of alien paraphernalia, a walk-through photo opportunity with resident aliens, an extra-terrestrial play place and a mini alien horror house.

Curious...have you heard of the Skookumchuck River?

Durango Roadtripping said...

Skoohumchuck River in Washington? Washington has a lot of rivers and place names with 'chuck' at the end.