Tuesday 10 February 2015

Quick Tips: Touring Monument Valley

The main highway
I thought Monument Valley was just an area you drive through on the highway with some impressive rock features, turns out the most interesting part is off the highway on a Navajo Reservation.  To see the monument you can take a tour with a Navajo guide or you can self drive so I thought I'd share a little info that might help you make that decision.

Sunset from the visitors center with
the access road in the foreground
Firstly we took a tour with Sandstone Tours and our guide was Jones who was very knowledgeable and friendly.  He timed the photos sites perfectly with amazing light we got that afternoon.  Our tour was a 2.5 hour tour starting at 2pm but we ran a little over which meant we got back to the visitors center at about 4:45pm to catch the last light on the monuments.  It was spectacular!  It was also nice to get into some of the restricted areas that only the guided tours go to.  Hard to know if it was any more spectacular but it was certainly interesting and a little less touristy.
The tour vehicle was not new but it was enclosed and warm which was nice for the middle of winter as some tours use open vehicles.  It is worth checking what time sunset is as there seem to be tours that get back long after sunset and unless they have a particular reason for being out after dark, you might not see much.
Typical road in the valley
Part of the reason we chose to do a tour is because I'd heard the roads are pretty rough and while we had and AWD car, we didn't really want to take it 4wding.  However, much of the trail is 2wd accessible even in winter, the exit is quite steep and might be difficult in a front wheel drive car with snow on the road, but we saw a lot of 2wd sedans going around the circuit.  The restricted area is a whole nother story with most of the trails heavily rutted however you can't go that way without a guide anyway.
Either way it is well worth a visit!  Check out Jackie's Monument Valley blog with photos

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