Having recently been asked for some hints and tips on my recent travels I thought now would be a good time to get back into the flow of writing about last years adventures. My last post spoke about San Angelo, Carlsbad and Santa Fe with the strange alien-centric town but next up is one of my highlights of the whole trip, Monument Valley. That six hour drive from Santa Fe was so surreal, it felt like we were in a movie (to be honest the whole trip felt like a movie) and the views were just insane. I was one of the only people in our group that stayed awake for almost every drive and although we were going through the desert, which looked for same for pretty much the entire six hours, I still couldn’t help but stare out the window at just how vast it was. There’s nothing like it.
As we passed through Utah on the way to Arizona we stopped off at Moki Dugway, a “graded dirt switchback road” that’s been carved into the face of Cedar Mesa located just north of Mexican Hat. It winds 1200 feet from Valley of the Gods to the top of Cedar Mesa and is just 3 miles of gravel and sand paving the way. We had to leave our trailer at the bottom on the side of the road while we drove to the top, watching our belongings get smaller and smaller. Get a look at this view…
Here’s a link to a video of the drive from YouTube here
After our stop-off we headed on into the desert, across the Utah/Arizona boarder and finally approached the valley. We stopped on the side of the road and took the unmissable photo which is definitely one of my favourites from my whole year away – especially the slow-mo jump! Running into the road when there were a few minutes before cars came was hilarious and we took it in turns to get the best shots.
Clambering back into the van we headed into the valley. We were lucky enough to have a full tour included with our trip, and if you can get to arrange this for yourself I would highly recommend it. Not only do you get to go to parts of the valley that most solo visitors aren’t allowed (by way of a 4×4 type buggy) but you get a native Navajo guide taking you round with so much history and knowledge ready to answer any questions. We were told the stories of the rock formations and allowed to get out and take photos of everything, including going inside a little hut where the Navajo people lived, getting up close to ancient tribal wall etchings and running down sand dunes. Super cool.
After sunset we took a long ride further into the valley to hear some more Navajo stories as well as eat a homemade huge (delicious!) taco which, after we’d eaten it, were told it contained 1000 calories. I think we all agreed it was worth it. After dinner there was a camp fire with native song and dance and then, much to our horror, full audience participation. Picture this; a group of Japanese tourists and our group of English/Australian girls all asked to pair up and do individual pair dances round the fire. I don’t think I was the only one who contemplated running into the flames. All I can say is thank God it was so dark.
We made our way back to the base where we picked up our trusty van and headed to the hotel but not before we took time to appreciate the stars – I’ve never seen anything like it and the memory of us craning our necks out the side of the 4×4 to get the best view will stay with me forever. Magical.