Monument Valley, AZ

Back to The Grand Circle Canyon Trip

With all the bags packed, gas tank full, and gutted with a pile of energy, we reached the entrance of the fantastic Monument Valley National Park through the south approach of the Rt 163.
The person at the ticket counter did have a weird, unimpressed look on his face when he glanced at the car we were in, a sedan. We were taking a chance, albeit there were a scarce number of sedans, to complete the 17 mile scenic drive. The drive itself, at least for the first part, was not challenging for the car, and we stopped at numerous vista points, hiked a little, and of course took photos from variety of angles at variety of shooting modes. 🙂 It is imperative that you carry a printed copy of the map, due to obvious reasons!

The most noteworthy were the Elephant Butte, the Three Sisters, the Camel Butte, the Rain God Mesa, the Totem Pole, the Yei Bi Chei, Artist’s Point, and the Spearhead Mesa. Thanks to the valiant attempts by the Geologist wife at making the naive husband understand the structural details and formation histories of the Mesas, Buttes, and spiral structures, the visual images are still crystal clear. To the untrained eye, standing in the middle of the valley would make you feel like you’ve landed on the red moon. The steep sides of the Mesas and Buttes, which are at abundance in the area, would take your breath away, when you’d realize that those formations are made just by hundreds of years of erosion by air and water only! The different shapes on display in the valley are seen from different vantage points along the 17 mile bumpy, steep, and rutted  ride. The red color of the soil, and the formations is ferric oxide, resulted from the heavy weathering of the plateau that is rich in iron. From the ancestral Rocky Mountains, to the current day Monument valley underwent several geologic events including uplifts, cracking, and constant erosion. But as with all geological formations, the earth continues to alter the face of the area.
Warning: Please keep an eye on the fuel levels, and the engine temperature gauge, as there are not many gas stations in the area and temperatures can steeply rise. Also, unless driving a four-wheeler, DO NOT try to go off-road (while the prospective view would be alluring, there could be serious trouble for two wheel drive cars).

Well, we could spend a full day here given a chance, but we had some ground to cover before dusk, therefore we set out for the next destination, Kanab, UT. But wait, there was more! There is only one road, highway 163, that goes through the park up north. When we were heading north, after a mile or so on a
road, straight like an arrow, we suddenly noticed something that we must have hated ourselves if we did not; the famous, much photographed approach road to Monument Valley. That was exactly where Forrest Gump finished his run too! Yes, we had to stop another hundred times and drive aimlessly to find the best vantage point. But it was well worth the time. A treat to the eyes, that my literary prowess would not be able to do justice with.


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