Or did we leave the transmission behind?
Monument Valley is known for the amazing monuments majestically arranged across the desert floor. It has been made famous by movies filmed in the area such as the westerns: Stagecoach (1939) or my Darling Clementine (1946) or more recent ones such as Forrest Gump (1994), Back to the Future Part III (1990) and the Lone Ranger (2013). Unbeknownst to many, Monument Valley Tribal Park is not a US National Park. Hence, a visitor is not afforded some of the luxuries we associate with our national parks. Luxuries as simple as a real road, restrooms of any kind, a decent map or the opportunity to explore a trail or hike up for a better view of a monument.
After paying our entrance fee of $10, we were handed a poorly Xeroxed map of the 17 mile valley loop with warnings not to venture off the road. And so our adventure began…
Shortly after passing the entrance shack we came up against the beast. The nicely maintained gravel road transitioned to a sharp drop off with large sections of slick rock rising out of the sand. We purposely rented a SUV knowing that the road could be difficult. You need clearance – and plenty of it. Although the road was equivalent to 3 vehicles wide, one needed all the space possible to slowly pick one’s way through the rough rocks, and deep sand, and this was with the SUV. Imagine what a road like this does to the average sedan? or to the bladder after coffee and juice?
Even in the daytime without the sweet light of sunrise or sunset, many of the viewpoints were quite impressive. Our favorites were the iconic shots from John Ford’s Point and Artists Point.
The loop is said to take 45 minutes to an hour to enjoy. As we found out, that was not the case. We had a tough time navigating even with the higher clearance of an SUV. We had no choice but to scrape the bottom a couple of times and we wondered what was left of the underside? Would the car start in morning?
Our visions of returning to these stunning view points for a sunrise or sunset were subdued and discarded as we picked our way slowly through the 17 miles. Almost three hours later, we completed our tour exhausted, ready for a drink. Oh, one more luxury missing – Monument Valley is dry.