This sacred valley, north of the Arizona-Utah border, is a Navajo Tribal Park preserving the awesome geologic formations and offering insight into the Navajo way of life. Just outside the reservation is Goulding’s Trading Post where there is lodging and a campground for RVs and tents.
The campground has a great view, its own pool, gift shop and laundry. Nearby the motel has balconies with spectacular views, a restaurant and movie theater.
This complex is named Gouldings.
Gouldings was historically where stars were housed and hung out when movies were filmed in the area. It was a favorite haunt for John Ford who made many films, and John Wayne, who acted in them. There is a movie museum on site, a collection of the area’s film history and personalities.
A few miles away is the Navajo Reservation. After paying a fee of $5 per person, you may take the 17 mile drive on your own, or join a Navajo led tour which will allow you to see areas not open to those traveling on their own. At the jumping off point is a new hotel called The View, trading post and restaurant. We drove the area on our own, and also took a tour into Mystery Valley
SELF GUIDED TOUR:
The Three Sisters
Sunset is a good time to photograph Monument Valley:
On the reservation is Mystery Valley, known as Land of Long Shadows. Here you must join a tour led by a Navajo guide. Our open-air, 4 wheel drive truck got us through areas of rough terrain. Our guide, Don, was born and raised on this reservation and knew of all the secret spots.
Above are a cliff dwelling and a sample of the area’s petroglyphs.
The pictograph above is called “hands.” Below, while we were photographing the cliff dwelling and cave art, our guide, Don, grilled burgers for our lunch.
Our fellow tourists were from all over the U.S. and one couple was from Germany.
WE WERE INVITED INTO LUCEE’S HOGAN AND SHE SHOWED US HOW SHE MAKES WOOL YARN AND WEAVES BLANKETS.
Below Lucee demonstrated how Navajo women tied their hair in the back with the wool yarn.
We were indebted to our guide for sharing his Navajo culture with us.
ABOUT 25 MILES FROM MONUMENT VALLEY IS MEXICAN HAT. THE PHOTO BELOW SHOWS WHY:
As the sun set over the hat, we visited a steak restaurant which had been on our list of “must sees” for years. It is in the category of a few of our favorite out-of-the-way, unique places to experience. Two of our favorites are Pappy & Harriets in Pioneertown near Yucca Valley, and Nellie’s Desert Bar near Parker, AZ.
THE SWINGING STEAK:
THE RIB EYE WAS 18 OZ. WE OPTED TO SPLIT IT.
We are fortunate that in this Country we have set aside these cultural, historical and geological unique lands for future generations to enjoy. The national parks and monuments are here for everyone to experience. How many residents of the American west enjoy these parks? We found that many of the visitors we encountered had negotiated through the tribulations of air travel, car rental, etc. to visit these parks. And yet, Americans who pay for the parks and live within driving distance often overlook the beauty and significance of what lies in their backyard. Remember, if you are over 62, purchase a Golden Age Pass and you can enter these parks and monuments free of charge.
DON’T MISS HOVENWEAP
Located in the Four Corners Area of Utah, this National Monument is on a Navajo Reservation. There is a visitor center and several hikes along the rim where structures are easily photographed. Round, square and D-shaped towers mark once-thriving communities abandoned 700 years ago. Why were these towers built? It has been suggested that the ancestral Pueblo people were protecting something. The area stimulates the imagination.