Category: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Monument Valley Navajo Tour

Monday, July 25, 2022

We drove a few miles from the KOA campground to the entrance of Monument Valley, on the Navajo Nation, and paid our $8 per person fee. We met Bobby Atele and climbed onto the seats built on the back of a Chevrolet pickup. A couple from Alabama were in front of us with their son. A young couple from Italy were behind us.

At the first stop, Bobby told us about several monuments before us, then about the plants around us, and how they are used. He talked about the movies and which monuments they were filmed around. Wikipedia ( lists 63 movies that have been made here starting in 1925. Stagecoach might be the most famous and iconic. John Ford would make eight movies here. Vertical Limit opens with a climbing scene on one. Mission Impossible opened with Tom Cruise climbing solo. Although Bobby said it was in Monument Valley, I found an interesting article on the event, (, which said it was filmed at Dead Horse Point, Utah, one of the coolest places we have been on this trip, where we met the handsome, young couple eating breakfast. I remember watching “Stagecoach” and thinking the red sand looked fake, but it is not.

Driving down into the valley, we stopped at John Ford Point, where some iconic scenes were filmed. They have a horse and rider to give perspective to the immense landscape, but the horse was eating breakfast.

We soon left the gravel roads and traveled on sand tracks made more tricky by a big rain last night. Besides the iconic monuments, we saw giant rocks shaped like oysters, a cliff shaped like a great dragon, a hole in the top of a cave that looked like an eagle’s eye from one direction and a Mohican from the front. to demonstrate the echo of the cave, Bobby played his flute. He was quite good. One area had very cool petroglyphs and remains of homes made of rock. 

At the dragon rock, a local farmer’s sheepdog came to check us out. Then I noticed the herd of sheep grazing and moving along the dragon. People still live amongst the rocks. Some of their homes are build like they were hundreds of years ago, because it works in this harsh environment. Some are built with modern materials. Sweat lodges are still used in a ceremony for the transition of a boy into manhood. 

Looking like a Mohican Indian facing to the left

It is rare to find homes or farms in a national park, but this is not a national park. It is the Navajo Nation. Although I first complained to myself about a house in the way of my picture, but the time we completed our three and a half hour tour, I became comfortable with it. Actually, it adds a lot when you realize these people have been here for hundreds or thousands of years. Bobby told of one lady who recently passed away at 105 years old, spending her entire life here.

There are so many things we would not have seen if we hadn’t taken this tour, and Bobby did an outstanding job.

Move to Monument Valley

We have been in a lot of places without cell coverage or WIFI, so I am 21 days behind! We have been in some spectacular places. Our national parks and monuments are great places. For the next 12 days, we should have good service, so I should catch up.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

We packed up at Ten-X Campground, with one more visit by our elk. Suddenly, there were barking dogs. I looked up to see a couple of mixed breed medium-sized dogs running after the elk. He took off at a big trot, leading those dogs to who knows where. Soon a young lady came after them, calling futilely. She may never see those dogs again, depending on how long they chase the elk, and if they have any sense of finding their way back to the campground.

 We hooked up and headed east, making one last stop at Lipan Point for some spectacular views of the Grand Canyon. Once down the mountain, we turned northeast on Rt. 160 toward Monument Valley. We were a little concerned about the heat, as we had been very comfortable at Ten-X. Except for the yellow jacket invasion, I would rate the campground a 9 or 10. As we drove out, we saw traps that were working well around the fresh water spigots. 

It was about a 2.5 hour pleasant drive to Monument Valley KOA campground. Once settled, we went to the Visitor’s Center. Although open, it was pretty stark inside. We wandered around reading signs and looking at pictures. A young foreign couple asked an employee about maps and trails. She was very curt. “All we do is sell maps. We don’t take credit cards. This is an all-cash park.” She gave them no information or help of any sort and should be relieved of her position immediately. The Welcome Center was not very welcoming.

We drove through the traffic circle to Goulding’s Lodge and Trading Post to look around. Harry and Leone (called Mike) Goulding came here in the 1920’s, starting the trading post, hotel and bringing people here to see this great place. They were influential in bringing John Ford here. Ford would later film “Stagecoach” here. That would start a long history of movie-making in Monument Valley.

Back at the KOA, a big, black storm was approaching from the north. With monuments right on the other side of the street, we headed out for some pictures. It made for some very dramatic shots.

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