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8 October 2018 / leggypeggy

A breathtaking stop at Monument Valley

Panorama of Monument Valley

A sweeping view of Monument Valley from the North Window overlook (I think)

John Ford Point, Monument Valley

This famous lookout point is named to honour movie director, John Ford

There’s no mistaking Monument Valley Tribal Park.

As you approach you realise you’ve seen it many times before—in advertisements, holiday brochures, television and movies, especially American westerns.

Director John Ford used the location in about 10 of his films, including Stagecoach, which won two Academy Awards and made John Wayne a star. Ford once said Monument Valley was the ‘most complete, beautiful and peaceful place on earth’.

The valley is featured in more than 20 other movies. Forrest Gump ended his cross-country run there. Or maybe you recognise it from 2001: A space odyssey or Back to the future III or Thelma and Louise.

View of Monument Valley

Cars are parked where Forrest Gump ended his cross-country run in the movie of the same name

No matter how many times you’ve seen it, the real treat is being there in person. It’s breathtaking to see the striking red mesas, buttes and spires surrounded by 92,000 acres of flat and mostly empty sandy desert.

Our group hired a Navajo guide and 4WD so we could travel along the 17-mile loop that weaves through the park.

Navaho guides are allowed to take you off the main track, so our excursion included some wonderful bonuses. We knew dinner was included—Indian fry bread, steak, salads and more. But we didn’t know we’d get to see the Sun’s Eye and nearby ancient rock art.

Next stop was a sort of rock amphitheatre where we were treated a ‘concert’. Our guide brought his traditional flute and played several haunting tunes. The enormous stone backdrops created perfect acoustics. 

Sun's Eye, Monument Valley

The Sun’s Eye where we saw the rock art

 

I was struck by how much the towering buttes, sweeping desert and rough scrub reminded me of Australia’s Red Centre and its massive sandstone monolith, Uluru.

As an aside, not all the pics have captions. As usual, I was in a quandary choosing which pics to share.

 

A little more about the valley
Monument Valley Tribal Park is part of the Colorado Plateau. In the Navajo language it’s called Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, which means ‘valley of the rocks’.

Of course, the place isn’t a valley in the conventional sense, but a wide flat, sometimes desolate landscape, with the crumbling formations that rise up to 1000 feet (300 metres), the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region.

Monument Valley is part of the much larger Navajo Nation Reservation, which covers about 17.5 million acres (71,000 square kilometres) in parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. It is the largest land area retained by a Native American tribe, and has a population of about 350,000.

Spearhead Mesa, Monument Valley

Spearhead Mesa is near the park’s visitor centre and hotel

The valley is not a national park, like nearby Canyonlands in Utah and the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but one of six Navajo-owned tribal parks. What’s more, the valley floor is still inhabited by Navajo—30 to 100 people, depending on the season, who live in houses without running water or electricity.

Valley residents rely on local natural springs for drinking and cleaning, and for watering their livestock and vegetable gardens. Water also plays a important role in Navajo daily and ceremonial life. Clan and community names often refer to water.

Plants, such as wolfberry and Indian ricegrass, grow around the springs. They provide forage for animals, and help to stabilise the sand and dirt. While plants such as snakeweed are used in Navajo ceremonies. Coyotes are central figures in Navajo life and culture. As an aside, I reckon coyotes figure much more widely in American life and culture. Poor John recently finished a book that says every single person in the USA lives within one mile of a coyote.

 

The Navajo Code Talkers
The visitor centre at Monument Valley has a wonderful display about the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II. There’s another display at a local fast food outlet.

Between 1942 and 1945, Navajo Marines spoke in a code forged from their native language. The tactic amazed American troops and completely baffled the Japanese, and helped to win World World II in the Pacific.

While Native American language had been used during World War I, the more recent effort began in 1942 with a pilot project that involved an original 29 Navajo Code Talkers. They initially developed more than 200 terms for the English alphabet, general vocabulary, ranks of officers, countries, military equipment and munitions. By the end of the war, the code included more than 800 terms and involved 400 talkers.

Navajo Code Talkers served in all six US Marine divisions. They provided the most sophisticated, accurate, fast and secure means of military communication during World War II. Their code was used to send combat coordinates, troop movements, orders and highly classified messages. They served on the front line, on ships and aircraft, with the US Marine Raiders, reconnaissance, and underwater demolition teams.

Their efforts were featured in the 2002 film Windtalkers. A documentary, The Code Talkers: a secret code of honour, was produced in 2003. In it, cast and crew from Windtalkers share their feelings about their service during the war and in the making of the film.

The Totem Pole, Monument Valley

The Totem Pole on the left

Camel Butte, Monument Valley

I’m pretty sure this is Camel Butte

The Mittens and Merrick Butte, Monument Valley

The Mittens (West Mitten on the left) and Merrick Butte (on the right)

99 Comments

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  1. ksbeth / Oct 8 2018 9:22 pm

    Stunning

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Derrick / Oct 8 2018 9:33 pm

    I told you that you would be blown away coming here
    We were lucky we actually got to speak to one of the windtalkers, (god only knows how old he was)
    You never saw the Navajo on horse back posing like John Wayne, Anne took several photos of him, then spoke to him when he came back to check his tips (they were all there and no one had pinched his bucket)

    There are so many places to take photos from, every time you find one great spot, another pops up

    Yes very reminiscent of the centre of Australia or Ayers Rock with the colours,

    We never had a guide but still wandered off the track

    We saw a group on horseback going for a tour, that was good watching them

    There was also a bit of filming going on while we were there, we were asked not to take photos, well for once I didn’t

    We stayed in a Navajo hotel not far from here, and ate a traditional meal, but it weren’t steak

    Yes I could go back here again, just to do it on horseback (that is really the best way to see monument valley (which isn’t really a valley)

    Cheers Peggy for bringing back a few memories of our Route 66 trip (weren’t that long ago really but it seems a long, long time ago now)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Derrick / Oct 8 2018 9:37 pm

      I forgot to mention we stopped at the point where Forrest stopped running, it’s not in the car park, it’s on a long stretch of road that disappears into the distance
      There are a few car wrecks out there as well, one near the exit, people queued up to pose with the wreck (it was a wreck, but never had much rust on it)

      Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 8 2018 9:45 pm

      I remember when you did your Route 66 trip. What a great adventure you had. We didn’t see anyone on horseback when we were there, but I reckon it would be a great way to see the valley. Glad to bring back some memories for you.

      Like

  3. Ashwini Nawathe / Oct 8 2018 9:43 pm

    OMG! Absolutely breath taking… It’s always a pleasure to read your travel stories. They inspire me to explore and make my bucket list of travel! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 8 2018 9:49 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting. I love sharing my travels. I wonder what will be on your bucket list?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ashwini Nawathe / Oct 8 2018 10:35 pm

        For now: It’s Machu Picchu, Northern Lights, Leh Ladakh, Manasarovar and Mt. Kailash, Greece and Ireland. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Oct 8 2018 10:43 pm

        Wow, great choices.

        Like

  4. beetleypete / Oct 8 2018 9:45 pm

    As you say, Peggy. This is so familiar from a lifetime of watching films. But I am sure that nothing compares to actually seeing it and being there.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. efge63 / Oct 8 2018 9:51 pm

    Wonderful post … and wonderful to see this beauty !!!

    Have a nice week my friend!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. MichaelStephenWills / Oct 8 2018 9:53 pm

    Good to see the Big Horn pictograph is still there. My son and I did the backcountry tour in 2003.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anna / Oct 8 2018 10:15 pm

    I did the exact same tour 12 years ago….can’t remember if it was the same flute player though! Lol. It’s a magical place that’s for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Miriam / Oct 8 2018 10:23 pm

    Yes, some views were definitely familiar. And wow, mind blowingly awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Superduque777 / Oct 8 2018 11:16 pm

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Eliza Ayres / Oct 8 2018 11:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal and commented:
    Another great-looking adventure from Miss Peggy!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. derrickjknight / Oct 9 2018 12:35 am

    Your description puts the Monument in context in a way I had not understood before. You did well to capture the rock art.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 6:13 am

      Thanks Derrick. I’m lucky enough to have a telephoto lens that let’s me capture things too far away.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / Oct 9 2018 1:30 am

    Monument valley is so amazing, but I haven’t seen it for a while now. You had a fascinating tour through it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Doggedly Yours / Oct 9 2018 1:30 am

    Spiritual indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 6:18 am

      Yes, and I think the flute music really added to the spirituality.

      Like

  14. Todd / Oct 9 2018 1:59 am

    The desert southwest is one of my favourite places on the planet, and in that whole region, this was my favourite stop. I haven’t been there in about a decade but I would love to go back – maybe next time travelling through the region by bicycle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 6:56 am

      It’s a wonderful place to visit. It might be hard to navigate the dirt loop on a bicycle! Maybe pedal to the visitor centre and then hire a horse.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Todd / Oct 9 2018 7:40 am

        That would be the idea for sure. I’m not even sure I’d be allowed to ride beyond the visitor’s centre.

        I’m thinking more of a cross-country ride – following Route 66, for example, with a bit of a diversion north to ride there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 3:33 pm

        Route 66 would be the perfect way to go.

        Like

  15. ralietravels / Oct 9 2018 2:39 am

    It is wonderful to see it through your eyes. It is one of our favorite spots.
    When we were last there, Alie was having some health issues, and we were blown away by the unexpected acts of kindness by people there.
    To meet a surviving Code Talker — wow!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 6:19 am

      It’s great to hear when people really step up with kindness.

      Like

  16. Catnip Blog / Oct 9 2018 3:43 am

    Monumental post . . . as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Andrew Petcher / Oct 9 2018 4:18 am

    Great pictures, reminded me of my visit there in 1996.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 6:19 am

      Glad you’ve also had the chance to see it in person.

      Like

  18. Yeah, Another Blogger / Oct 9 2018 4:21 am

    Good story, Peggy. Lots of info I hadn’t known, such as it being Navajo-owned. See you —
    Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The Cooking spoon / Oct 9 2018 4:49 am

    What an amazing experience to see all that. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 6:20 am

      It really was a treat. I’d love to visit again.

      Like

  20. Alison and Don / Oct 9 2018 6:07 am

    I can see why you’d think it like Australia’s red centre. Interesting post Peggy. The landscape looks awe-inspiring and powerful, and I loved the flute music.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 6:22 am

      Yes, it’s especially Uluru-like when you get up close to some of the buttes. Really struck me around the Sun’s Eye and where we listened to the flute music.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. afterthelasttime / Oct 9 2018 6:09 am

    Terrific photos, Peggy! This makes me want to go again as my previous drive by was a hastily planned side trip when headed to Bryce Canyon.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. sidilbradipo1 / Oct 9 2018 7:24 am

    Monumento Valley… 😮🤤😲
    Ok, I live on the wrong side of the ocean 😁
    Breathtaking photos!
    Ciao
    Sidd

    Liked by 1 person

  23. DizzytheDonkey / Oct 9 2018 8:03 am

    This really is breathtaking! And your photos are always so stunning. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 2:15 pm

      Oh thanks so much. I guess lugging around a heavy camera is worth it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • DizzytheDonkey / Oct 9 2018 7:47 pm

        It 100% is! I’m really not a fan of flying, and doubt I will ever travel to all the places you do, so I just love seeing all your beautiful photos of them. 🙂 xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 9:39 pm

        So happy to take you along with me.

        Like

  24. Sy S. / Oct 9 2018 10:54 am

    Often for great photos of long distances, they result in hazy images… so I am amazed how clear all your beautiful photos are. You should be a movie director and produce a short movie on “Travels with Peggy”! And Monument Valley can be your signature video. And sidekick Poor John (no Wayne) hubby can be your cowboy star.. where is his hat, gun and horse photo? Again, amazingly beautiful photos and commentary on a unique part of America.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 2:16 pm

      Thanks so much Sy. I did get some hazy pics, but we were so very lucky with the weather. Don’t think I’ll get Poor John on a horse any time soon. He prefers donkeys—not quite so far to fall.

      Like

  25. shawnthompsonart / Oct 9 2018 1:24 pm

    Interesting views, it looks a lot like Mars or something, interesting about the Navajo Code Talkers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 2:17 pm

      Great comment, the landscapes rather do look like Mars, the Red Planet.

      Like

  26. dreamweaver333 / Oct 9 2018 2:25 pm

    Reblogged this on dreamweaver333.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. gerard oosterman / Oct 9 2018 3:27 pm

    The dinner look nice as well. Was that a buffalo steak?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 3:28 pm

      Dinner was nice, but I have no idea what kind of meat. They never said.

      Like

  28. thewonderer86 / Oct 9 2018 5:57 pm

    Stunning place. And yes, although I’ve never been, it looks so familiar

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Oct 9 2018 6:23 pm

    This is such a breathtaking part of Colorado, with a rich history. I wish more was taught to American children about Navajo culture – I wish more was taught about all Native American culture. The Rock Art is stunning, every bit as impressive as the cave paintings in Europe. And yes, it does remind me of Ayers Rock, now that you mention it. I’ve really enjoyed “traveling” here with you, learning the history and getting to see the incredible landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 6:26 pm

      So glad you enjoyed the post. I’m a big fan of rock art in general. Seeing it here was a big, unexpected bonus.

      Liked by 2 people

  30. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Oct 9 2018 6:26 pm

    We live in Lake Forest, California – and have seen coyotes walking down the street at noon. There is frequent evidence of their presence in our and all Orange County neighborhoods. A bit scary sometimes, and requiring a little caution and common sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 6:30 pm

      Oh my goodness, you are proof that what Poor John read about coyotes is right. I guess pets are at the greatest risk.

      Liked by 2 people

  31. Emma Cownie / Oct 9 2018 6:43 pm

    It’s a stunning landscape. Thanks to John Ford, I used to think that most of the USA looked like this!! lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 9 2018 9:36 pm

      I love your artworks. Have you ever painted scenes from here?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Emma Cownie / Oct 10 2018 6:24 pm

        Thank you. No I haven’t although I did visit here a long time ago (in the 1990s). I still have the photos in a cupboard somewhere!

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Oct 10 2018 7:47 pm

        Perhaps some inspiration.

        Liked by 1 person

  32. Siobhan mckenna / Oct 9 2018 11:29 pm

    Great read 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Curt Mekemson / Oct 10 2018 4:45 am

    Great post, Peggy. For all of my wandering the southwest, I don’t remember ever visiting Monument Valley. Several bloggers I follow have featured it. I shall include it in my next trip to the region. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Nidhi / Oct 10 2018 5:45 am

    It’s stunning🌿

    Liked by 2 people

  35. mary halpenny-killip / Oct 10 2018 1:56 pm

    Peg, you are STILL here??? What a tour, and, good for you both, then. I should see my own country in this way one day. (Maybe time to retire.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 10 2018 4:13 pm

      Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but we are back in Australia. I’m almost always behind with the blog. But yes, you need to explore the USA—Australia too. Always welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Vicki / Oct 10 2018 11:08 pm

    What an interesting post.
    …and the images and landscape are spectacular. Thanks for sharing, Peggy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Oct 10 2018 11:28 pm

      Thanks Vicki. You have so many wonderful posts. It’s great to post one you like.

      Liked by 2 people

  37. Nilzeitung / Oct 11 2018 8:27 am

    vielen lieben dank !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Dave Ply / Oct 11 2018 10:55 am

    Spectacular countryside. Hard to believe I’ve never been there, although your pictures have a familiar feel. That side trip with the Navaho guide must have been amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. BallesWorld / Oct 11 2018 11:26 am

    Wonderful report !!! He makes you want to visit this beautiful place too.

    Have a nice time.
    best regards
    Balle

    Liked by 1 person

  40. chattykerry / Oct 14 2018 11:20 pm

    What wonderful photographs and such a great back story. I haven’t been to Monument Valley but Teddy has, on geological field trips. The fry bread looked so good! I haven’t heard our coyotes in a while but was transfixed in Arizona listening to them ‘sing’ at night.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 15 2018 9:45 am

      Thanks Kerry. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard coyotes singing at night. Time for a return trip.

      Liked by 1 person

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