Monument Valley & Valley of The Gods

  • Updated: November 29, 2014
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

   Monument Valley
   Valley of The Gods
When: November 30th, 2014
Where: Utah-ish
Who: Matthew Hengst, Kristen Lindbergh, Jen Blackie
Pictures: [Matt]

Day 3 of the 2014 Turktacular found us camped rather close to a cliffside at Goosenecks State Park between Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods.  See the previous day for more details about the park but the short version is it's a great place to camp if you're passing through.

Today was going to be mostly vehicle touring covering Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley, and then heading back over towards White Pockets.

After breakfast and a brief look around the Goosenecks we headed a bit further east entering Valley of the Gods from right before the road hits the Moki Dugway.  This side if the valley is less interesting but did have a B&B marked as Lee's Ranch if you're out looking for a little more comfort.

No restrictions except for no fires
The view improved as we headed deeper into the park.  We were looking for anything with a name that might be climbable (Peakbagger and all of that) but most of the things that looked interesting appeared to require either an aid climb or a helicopter.

We pulled over a few times and wandered about a bit but other than taking some rather scenic pictures didn't find too much of interest.

We'd found mentioned elsewhere that the best camping was towards the eastern side of the valley and that was true.  There were a number of RVs but plenty of places we could have stayed as long as you weren't looking for much in the way of cover.  The campfire warnings were rather prominent so we were quite happy with having spent our evening at Goosenecks.

We passed through the fun entrance and headed back west towards Monument Valley.  Since it was daylight now we could actually make out the rock that they named the local town after, Mexican Hat.

Mexican Hat Rock from the road
There's a hike you can do out to the rock but we decided to keep moving since you can apparently only climb it as an aid route.  (It does look rather awesome to do it that way.)

On to Monument Valley!

This is probably the best picture I should have gotten with the nicer camera.  It's outside of Monument Valley just along the road.  Check google for some much more dramatic shots.

Driving further there's a turnoff marked as Monument Valley which takes you up to a pay kiosk.

The visitors center is actually behind the pay entrance so if you don't want to pay $20 a vehicle the best view is back along the road.  However if you pay there are some nice scenic views and a hotel you can stay out that has the classic Monument Valley view out the windows.

This is the view from Photographer's Balcony.  Best view in the area that we found.

There's a road you can drive through though you're pretty limited to where you can go since everything out there is a holy area.  You can go a bit further if you pay for a guide but we weren't really interested in that.

We did the loop in the jeep in far less time than they advertise it takes.  Despite warnings on all the signs we saw several passenger cars down there that seemed to be getting around ok.  A few of the more remote spots of the loop were a bit rougher.

I didn't take many pictures during this section since honestly the view from the visitors center was the most impressive that we saw.  The views down below were nice and all but it's easy to get spoiled in Utah.

Across from the Monument Valley entrance there's Goulding's campground we stopped in to get showers.  Despite the fact they were closed we managed to talk our way into some very well appreciated $9 showers.

This had initially been where we'd planned to do Thanksgiving dinner but I'm rather happy we ended up at our primitive camp near Mollies Nipple instead.  They'd had a good attitude though, when we asked about staying over the phone they told us they were closed that day but not to worry just drive on in and settle with them in the morning.

We headed back west as the sun went down crossing back across Navajo land.

As much as I didn't enjoy the ascent of Navajo Mountain and really think it should be dropped from the Sierra Club Desert Peak Section list it is suitably impressive from a distance.

It was well after dark when we turned off the paved road and headed down a distressingly washboarded dirt road leading towards The Wave, Vermillion Cliffs, and White Pocket.

The first two both require permits which took more time and hassle than we had to spare.  The latter is open access and looked rather neat in pictures.

There's a rather nice campground right at the Utah / Arizona border appropriately named Stateline Campground.  We pulled in, started a nice roaring fire to hold off the cold, and started cooking.

The plan was to leave at dawn and drive in on the reputedly deep sand.  We even had carpet along in the event we got stuck.  However I'd started feeling sick that morning and was almost bedridden by the time we got to the campground.

So instead the next morning we slept in a bit and headed for home early.  We still had a drive that took us basically the entire day.

And that was it for the 2014 Turktacular!

You Might Also Like