Although it isn’t a National Park, Monument Valley is an American icon you’ve likely seen in numerous movies and pictures.
March 26, 2017 – The View
Our drive north from Petrified Forest wasn’t very leisurely as we were racing the sunset. Most of the drive was through Hopi and Navajo lands, scattered with small towns. When we got close to the Utah boarder, the land scape began to change and Buttes were visible. We arrived at our hotel close to sunset, skipped the check-in line and went straight to the patio to take photographs.
The View Hotel is very appropriately named. Owned and operated by Navajo, The View is the only hotel close to the landscape that Monument Valley is best known for, the East Mitten, West Mitten and Merrick Buttes. We did finally check in. Every room has a balcony, and we made use of ours for more sunset pictures before it got dark.
When we couldn’t see the Valley anymore, we headed to the hotel’s restaurant for some traditional Navajo dinner. The hotel restaurant is known for their Green Chili Stew, so of course we sampled that. We also shared an order of the Red Chile Pork Posole which we thought was even better than the Green Chili Stew.
March 27, 2017 – Monument Valley
The day started with sunrise over Monument Valley from our hotel balcony and a breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant.
If you are willing to hire a local guide, Monument Valley has horseback rides, jeep off roading, and lots of hiking. If you want to explore on your own, the options are limited to the 17 mile scenic drive through the valley and hiking the 4 mile Wildcat Trail. We chose the hike which starts near the hotel, descends into the valley, and circles the West Mitten Butte.
I enjoyed this hike very much. Once again, being immersed in a valley has a humbling effect that isn’t always apparent when viewing it from the top. Although the hike wasn’t difficult, there weren’t very many other people on the trail. Once or twice it sprinkled, but the rain mostly stayed away and the weather was lovely for hiking. The change in landscape from the mid-atlantic forests was also enjoyable for us.
Before we could leave Monument Valley, we drove across the Utah boarder and down highway 163 for another iconic look at Monument Valley.
One hour from Monument Valley is Betatakin and the Navajo National Monument. Betatakin is a Puebloan village built into the cliff slide. During the summer season, there is a ranger lead 5 mile hike to Betatakin. There is also a 17 mile hike to another village, Keet Seel. When we were there, we settled for the 1.3 mile round trip hike along the Sandal Trail, to an overview of Betatakin (bring binoculars).