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Wild West #8: To Monument Valley

Back to the Wild West today!

The “Three Gossips” are enormous towers in the Arches park near Moab.

We hiked in and saw the longest arch of all, the Landscape Arch, it’s actually debatable how exactly to measure its size, but roughly speaking it’s a hundred yards across.

Over the day, Arches gets pretty crowded. On the last morning, we went out early and looked at Double Arch.

And then we drove south from Moab to Monument Valley, which lies at the border of Utah and Arizona, near the “Four Corners” area. One the way we passed Newspaper Rock. It’s hard to date petroglyph markings like this—some say they’re a thousand years old, others think it’s more like a century. Several of the Native American guides we ran into had the idea that the petroglyphs depicted visiting aliens.

We passed through a few Mormon towns in Southern Utah, ending with Bluff, which has a couple of older Victorian houses that might have been built by Mormon settlers.

Monument Valley itself lies within a Navaho reservation, and the very last town before the rez is called Mexican Hat, after a stone formation nearby. The reservation is dry; there are a couple of bars in Indian Hat, a gas station, two motels and not much else.

We drove in towards Monument Valley in the late afternoon, it felt epic, like going to Oz.

Monument Valley itself is an expanse some dozen or so miles across, with immense rock formations. Two of them are called the “mittens,” as each has a main part and a smaller “thumb.”


Monument Valley at dusk. The View hotel is on the left.Click for larger version.

The Navahos recently built a really great hotel called The View on the lip of Monument Valley, and we were able to find a room there—we hadn’t been able to reserve, but someone had cancelled. If we hadn’t found a room we would have camped in what was basically a red dirt parking lot.

I walked up onto the slopes of a bluff next to the hotel and took a few pictures. Moments like this, I want time to stop.

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