Monument Valley was not on my original list; I intended to go straight down to Canyon de Chelly. But 'Al' from Page said absolutely I could not skip Monument Valley if only for a day! There is a relatively new Visitor's Center/Gift Shop/Hotel with this view from the deck. The East and West Mitten Buttes are to the left; on the right is Merrick Butte. It was too late to do the Wildcat trail round the West Mitten so I strolled around the area just soaking it in.
Everything is much bigger and farther away than it looks. I think the regular tour loop around the valley is 17 miles. The Wildcat trail out to the Mitten is a 3 mile loop.
Traveling in the vicinity of the Utah/Arizona border is tricky with AZ not participating in daylight savings time and my iPhone NOT understanding AZ reasoning about that issue. That resulted in always feeling a bit worried about getting the wrong time for something. It was the worst for the Antelope Canyon Tour. Very structured and don't be late! At Monument Valley everything is a bit more casual. When I arranged with Herbert for my sunrise tour he just said be out front about daylight to meet Ruth. She arrived in a big white 4x4 Ford truck armed with two cell phones!
This was really cool. Just me and Ruth and the valley. We saw NO ONE for about an hour. Then a couple locals passed us as they headed out to work. There are a few scattered homesteads across the valley. The night before I had seen random headlights. It was a bit eerie.
The public is allow access on a short loop; the guided tours go out on a 17 mile loop; and Ruth took me way out to the farthest reaches of the valley. We had rough road, we had extreme sand, we had road that looked more like moguls. Ruth wouldn't use her 4 wheel drive until absolutely necessary. Under instructions from the boss no doubt!
There are several arches in the sandstone cliffs. First we saw "The Ear of the Wind".
Next was Moccasin Arch. We liked that one as it shared a name with my Moccasin of course.
Ruth walked into Big Hogan as I was turned away taking pics. I was so glad she did because it gave me a great perspective how how BIG it really it.
The sand and cliffs were absolutely gorgeous in the morning light.
Near the end of the farthest reach of our tour Ruth took me to a spring. It bubbled out of the ground creating a small creek where cottonwood trees took advantage of the water. The white stuff on the road is salt from the water. (I had serious doubts we would get across the sandy creek, but Ruth did it with the help of her 4 x 4).
Back in the public area are we made a stop at this cliff face to see the pertroglyphs.
My Navajo friend Al was right, Monument Valley is not to be missed. And there's so much more to do next time: a trail ride and an overnite in the valley that includes native dancing and music at Big Hogan after a dinner prepared by Ruth. Can't wait!