Monument Valley kinda represents The West, as one can see in some movies about Westerns. It’s the second major stop, following Arches National Park, in our Grand Circle trip. Driving from Moab to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park takes almost 3 hours. We were hoping to catch the sunset! So we kept driving, except for a brief break at Mexican Hat. The weather was actually not promising. When we got closer to Monument Valley, we were caught in a storm. My plan of taking a photo of the straight road going towards those iconic sandstone buttes vanished!
When we arrived at the park, the storm has just passed. After paying the entrance fee ($20), we went ahead to the hotel – The View Hotel – the only hotel inside of the park. It’s the most expensive hotel we booked in our entire Grand Circle trip, almost $300 (on top of that, we also paid for the breakfast). Obviously we had high expectations for it. The style and color of the building match the surrounding very well. The hotel is almost like part of the park itself. The terrace is big, providing good views of the valley. The room is a typical American standard room. Not a bad size! The best part – also the most expensive part – is the private balcony! We could see the whole valley without going out of the room. Plus, the balcony faces east, which means sunrise can be seen directly from the room as well! To be honest, I have never been to a balcony that gives such extraordinary view… The whole valley was there for me to enjoy, in peace.
Sunset was not possible that day. But the air felt fresh after the storm. The temperature was very pleasant! And the valley looked more peaceful. I couldn’t help to admire those sandstone buttes, which have been standing there for who knows how many centuries. We didn’t go to the restaurant for dinner. Somehow we had a crave for instant noodles 🙂
The sky got darker and darker. We saw a few cars (lights) were driving in the valley. Were they local Navajo residents?
The second day, I got up early, and went out to the terrace with my camera (+ tripod). Yes, sunrise again! Why not? No need to drive, no need to hike – it’s probably the easiest sunrise (although people often miss the easiest things). I took many photos, with different settings. D and my mom didn’t come out. They saw sunrise on the balcony – a slightly different angle but equally good. I had to come out because I wanted a bigger view. It was a bit cloudy! But not too bad. The sun rose behind the center butte.
As mentioned earlier, we bought tickets for the breakfast buffet. The restaurant has big windows so people can enjoy the view of the valley while enjoying their meals. However the buffet was normal… not many choices. I kinda missed the breakfast in Best Western.
After the breakfast, we checked out. But we didn’t leave! Instead, we went for hiking. The only hiking trail in the park is called Wildcat, starting from the hotel. We spent some time looking for the start point of the trail. It was not as straightforward as we thought. Anyways, we found it! We hiked around one of the sandstone buttes. The closeup view was a totally different experience! We had to look up the sandstone butte – it’s so tall. Also, we got to get close to the local plants and animals. The temperature raised quickly as the day proceeded towards noon. We took many water breaks, and enjoyed the company of a dog (may belong to somebody).
Then we went for the 17 miles scenic drive. The road condition was much better than we thought. A 4WD was not necessary. Since hiking is not allowed without a guide, we basically stayed on the main road, and finished the loop quickly. I am surprised that I don’t have much to say about the drive… but it’s definitely worthing going!
With all the good memories of Monument Valley, we hit the road towards Page, Arizona.