Tuesday, July 26, 2022
We drove 30 miles north of Monument Valley to The Goosenecks State Park, stopping to take pictures at Forest Gump Point, with a very pretty view of Monument Valley. We also stopped at Mexican Hat to take some pictures. Driving up a gravel road, there was a campground ahead, but we decided not to explore it since we had a full day on the agenda.
We passed a sign for Bear’s Ears National Monument, which we would see later. I have been questioning what Bear’s Ears is during our travels in the southwest. I now understand it is over 2,000 square miles of land with hundreds of ancient heritage sites. Apparently difficult to understand and visit, I would like to return and explore it.
We pulled into The Goosenecks State Park, but the ranger station wasn’t open yet. Our Utah State Park pass came in handy again, so we went through to the parking lot. I had been tempted to stay at this campground, but wasn’t quite sure what it would be like out in the middle of nowhere. Well, it is very cool and safe. Only a few campers were there. You can also camp all along the rim, or just go out there for dinner, build a fire and enjoy the views.
It had been raining for a while, and a rainbow right over the Goosenecks greeted us. I scrambled frantically to get some pictures before it dissolved and went away. We walked through the campground and down a dirt road that wound its way to the end of a point. Along the way were primitive campsites with fire pits and overlooks of the San Juan River below.
Three people were camped in one, and we stopped to talk with them. It was a couple with a friend from Thailand had pitched tents last night. The stars must be incredible here, but they said it was cloudy. Still they loved their spot. They were headed for Valley of the Gods today, and so were we.
We continued out to the point to see the river bending around it. You could camp in the campground and come out here for dinner and a fire and watch the stars, or pitch your tent and watch all night. It’s a very cool spot!
We walked back to the parking lot where Martha talked with a jewelry salesperson named Bobby. His father and grandfather had sold their goods here too, and his father was a code-talker. Bobby is also a code-talker, but we think of code-talkers like the movie. He said the move doesn’t do it justice, but to read one of several books written on the subject. He talked about coming here with his father and climbing down to the river and how difficult it was coming back up.
We drove northwest to Valley of The Gods, which is a 19-mile loop drive through the valley on a gravel road. It is very pretty, although the road is a bit rough. A tow truck was carrying a jeep out, which made us a bit leery, but the road was fine, and a van and several cars passed us when we stopped to look at named monuments. By the end, we thought the name was a bit over the top, but certainly a cool place. There is a bed and breakfast lodge on the west end of the drive.
Leaving the park and driving back toward Mexican Hat, we were struck by swirled colors along a mountain.