Monument Valley

From the website: “Goulding’s Lodge has been synonymous with Monument Valley for nearly a century. Harry and Leone (aka ‘Mike’) Goulding purchased land and started Goulding’s Trading Post in the 1920s. During the Great Depression, they saw an opportunity to bolster the local Navajo economy by bringing in movie production companies looking to film in the Southwest. Since then, Goulding’s has hosted films crews, photographers, artists, and tourists from around the world. The trading post has expanded to include a lodge, campsite, tour operation, restaurant, convenience store, and a private airstrip.

We met the tour guide at 5:30 this morning for a private ride to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park for the sunrise. Far beyond the valley view most people flock to. Deep into the real American West. Here is the description: “The valley is host to towering sandstone rock formations that have been sculpted over time and soar 400 to 1,000 feet above the valley floor. Combined with the surrounding mesas, buttes, and desert environment, it truly is one of the natural wonders of the world. Set aside by the Navajo Tribal Council in 1958, the park covers almost 92,000 acres in northern Arizona and southern Utah and lies within the Navajo Nation reservation. The bumpy ride for nearly three hours was a jolt for both of us, even stronger than coffee we had in our Thermos. It was not the dirt roads with rocks that nearly caused the Jeep to flip over a few times; it was the stunning, powerful scenes of geological features. The guide, a local Navajo who did not say much, took us all the way to the sunrise point. We got there just time for the sun to emerge between rock sticks at 6:30 AM. I do not need to describe all the scenes, since there are pictures here you can see for yourself! The guide was kind enough to keep driving us throughout the park for two more hours after the sunrise. He explained a few things such as the Money Tree. Steve and I just kept clicking away pictures with his professional camera and our iPhones. It was one of the best mornings we have ever had on this Big Trip, despite waking up before 5 AM. Swimming with the manatees in Florida was one of them. Now this. When you are in Monument Valley, hire a private tour guide to take you into one of the captivating parks in the world – before the sunrise!