Monument Valley

From Lake Powell, we drove less than 100 miles, mainly north, to Monument Valley. This drive was almost entirely on the Navajo Reservation, which is the second largest in the USA. Parts of their lands stretch from Arizona to New Mexico to Utah. And Monument Valley is entirely on Navajo land.

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Monument Valley is not really a valley…It’s primarily flat land interspersed between majestic buttes. It looks to me that these land features were once one large geological protrusion… With millions of years of erosion to this very soft sandstone, we are left with these remaining landmarks, which themselves, are destined for erosion.  We should all come back in a million years and see how they’ve changed. We arrived in the afternoon, and I had a chance to hike up on the nearby Mesa and snap the above pic of our beautiful hotel… aptly named “ The View.” Later, we saw a moonrise behind the buttes.

The next morning, I snapped these photos at sunrise from our balcony.

Later in the morning, we took a three hour guided tour of the Valley. All visitors pay a fee to enter the Valley, and then they can choose to be escorted or drive their own vehicle on a 17 mile off-road track through the buttes. Our car could have done it, but we really didn’t need all the dust clogging its air filters with thousands of miles to go. Also, the guided tours take you off the beaten path onto lands not accessible any other way. We found a Land Rover that let Mrs Bear sit inside in the warm, toasty cabin, while the rest of us dealt with the 40 degree weather in between stops. It really wasn’t that bad if you dressed right..

We drove past a number of buttes, and finally reached the vista I was  waiting for… They call it “ John Ford Point.”

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Like most of you, I saw the classic John Wayne movies that John Ford produced. They all seemed to be filmed here. Our guide rambled off more recent flicks that also used these buttes for locations, but I didn’t pay attention… All I was thinking was “ Fort Apache,”:”She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” and “ Hondo.” Someone said that Monument Valley’s few hundred acres represented the full impression of the American West for two or three generations of Americans. So standing on the point where The Duke stood and acted was surreal.  “ Well, Pilgrim ??”

Our tour continued and began to focus on the Navajo culture.  Take a look at the pic above on the left… Does anyone see the warrior ??

Our tour ended and we headed further north to Moab. But it was really cool to share a day with the shadows of American calvary soldiers among sacred Navajo lands.

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