Monument Valley straddles the Arizona/Utah border and was intriguing to us. We had seen the impressive buttes and mesas from a distance and were interested in seeing them up close. We booked a space in Goulding’s RV park. The Gouldings established a trading post in the area in the 1920s and were instrumental in introducing the world to the spectacular scenery that was used as a backdrop to numerous Hollywood movies beginning with the John Wayne westerns.
The campsite is surrounded by redrock. They even have their own “Hidden Arch” that we hiked to the day we arrived. Look closely for our Arctic Fox in the second image.
To see the rest of Monument Valley, one needs to pay a fee to enter the Navaho Tribal Park. Most people drive the seventeen-mile rough road to various scenic outlooks or join a guided tour. We chose to do a two-hour hike first, then drive.
The hike was around the West Mitten, a butte that is shaped like a hand. When you get around to the other side of the butte, you have a view that isn’t seen by most people. It was an easy and enjoyable hike.
Here’s a view from one of the scenic overlooks on the drive.
The next day, we drove north about twenty minutes to Goosenecks State Park, a spot we had camped at on our first trip to Utah. We continue to be awed by the magnificent view of the San Juan River far below. While we were there, a group of canoeists floated by.
Just minutes north of the state park, is the Valley of the Gods, a kind of “mini” Monument Valley. The buttes in this area are formed from an older geologic layer than their larger cousins, but are just as interesting. They have names such as “Laying Hen” and “The Lady in the Bathtub” but a person could see other shapes as well. We went for a short walk and had our lunch.
It was still early in the day, so we checked our GPS and realized that in about half an hour we could be at the trailhead for a hike to a petroglyph panel that we’d always wanted to see. Luckily, we had a guidebook and hiking boots in the truck. With Wendy’s binocular case repurposed as a water bottle carrier, we were set. The hike to the panel was uneventful, or so Wendy thought, until she was preparing the blog post and Doug showed her the photo of the “Midget Faded Rattlesnake” that scampered across the trail in front of him, just below the petroglyphs.
Here are some images of the “Wolfman Panel.” If you look closely, you can see the depth of the carvings. It’s hard to imagine how the highest petroglyphs were made. Researchers figure these were created about a thousand years ago, but no-one really knows what they mean.
If you are following us in real time, you can tell that are posts are delayed a week or so. Perhaps we’ll catch up before we get home.