Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 22, 2015

Four Corners

Moving on to Mesa Verde.

Basically a travel day with one short detour.  The Four Corners monument.

Plaza with marker in the middle and bordered on all four sides with permanent buildings containing vending stalls.  Does give some neatness to the vending as opposed to the roadside trucks and ramadas but how much silver jewelry can one look at.










Camped in campground across from entrance to Mesa Verde about noon.  Lunch and then to visitor center to sign up for tours.  Tomorrow we see some old buildings Smile.

August 21, 2015


Today was a day for touring in the car to go places and see things we could not get to in the carbus.

P1020358Hidden Arch above campground

Before starting we hiked a couple hundred yards behind the campground to see a hidden arch.

North of Monument Valley about 20 miles is the very small town (wide spot) of Mexican Hat.

Mexican Hat

Any idea where the town name comes from?



Just north of there state highway 261 takes off to the left.  At the start of the road there are several large signs basically saying that if you are in anything larger or heavier than a passenger car do not continue.  My kind of road Smile

Shortly we turned on a road to Goosenecks State Park.  At the end of a three mile road is a vista point and a small dry camping camp ground – and an entrance hut manned by someone to take your entrance fee.  The view overlooks an area where the San Juan River makes a series of hairpin bends as it flows through the plateau.  The river is well over 1000’ below the view point.







Out to the main road and left toward the reason for the warning signs.

Muleys Point

View to the left as we headed north from Goosenecks road.  We were headed to the top of that point.


The road heads straight for a mesa wall that reaches over 1000’ above the level you are driving on.  The cliff is continuous for miles with no sign of a way to go around it and certainly no evident way up it.  But there is.  It is called the Moki Dugway. 


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At the base of the cliff the road turns into gravel and heads up – and up – and up.  Over 1500’ climbed in three miles.  Hairpin on hairpin on hairpin.  The road clutches the mesa wall so tightly you have no idea it is there when you look up.  Surprisingly it is wide enough for two cars comfortably but the hairpins are too steep and sharp for large vehicles.  Fun drive and great views. 

Moki Dugway

Moki Dugway



At the top we took another road (nicely graded dirt) to the end of a plateau to a spot called Muley Point. (Disregard picture label spelling).  Again, great views.

Muley's Point

Muley's Point


Muley's Point


Back to the top of Moki Dugway and down this time.  At the bottom, instead of returning on the paved road, we turned on a road leading into the “Valley of the Gods’.

This road is scratched in to the surface of the desert.  It is not even carved.  It follows all the contours of the land including into and out of washes.  No culverts to allow water to cross road.  Sign at start of road says road impassible in wet weather.  Believe it.  Road can be done in passenger car – we saw several.  Better in high clearance vehicle.  More comfortable with four wheel drive.  We had fun ride.

Valley of the Gods

Road into Valley of the Gods


Valley of the Gods



Reviews of the drive show many who think it is more spectacular than Monument Valley.  I can see their point.  Monument Valley landmarks are more massive and are seen from some distance.  In Valley of the Gods you drive through monuments on all sides.  More personal experience.



Valley of the Gods


Valley of the Gods


Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods


Valley of the Gods



Back on the highway we went north to the small town of Bluff.

Bluff, Utah

  Was a Mormon expansion community 150+ years ago (ancient peoples before that).  Now a quaint small town with interesting buildings, history, and a very nice museum with extensive outdoor displays.

Back south to Monument Valley.  Decided to go to the Tribal Park visitor center again to catch the monuments in a little different light.  (Admission pass is good for four days Smile




An observation at this point on the tourist mix we have experienced in this area.  The visitor center and tours of Monument Valley is like a playground for The United Nations.  We very rarely heard English spoken except during transactions (buying stuff, etc.)  Many Europeans in addition to Japanese, (East)Indians, and several other nationalities.  A portion of our tour included a family from the Netherlands.  These people are touring in a variety of ways.  Hotel/motel, car camping, rented motorhomes.  Only place we have seen as many CruiseAmerica RVs is in Alaska. 

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Visitor log from Goosenecks SP – a pretty remote place.  Only one entry is from the United States (Az).


Last night in the Navajo Nation and we had yet to do some Navajo food.  Went to Gouldings restaurant and had Navajo Tacos.




Water pitcher in restaurant.  Every table had one.  Cloth napkins too.


  Later that evening we watched ‘The Searchers’.  Good movie.



View from our campground.  We had a nice visit To the Monument Valley area.

August 20, 2015


There are a number of ways to see Monument Valley.  The entrance fee allows you to drive into the valley past a number of the more familiar formations.  The road is quite congested with all the other tourists and is quite bumpy so the driver must spend most of his attention to just driving.  The only information available is what is on the half sheet map you get when you enter the park.  The drive is also limited in scope restricting you from entering areas that require a guide.  At the visitor center parking lot there are a number of outfits offering guided tours of various types.  Standard tour that you can drive but without the driving hassle and with narration.  Extended standard tour which takes you to some of restricted areas.  Sunrise, sunset, full moon, etc.  There is also another area adjacent to Monument Valley.  It is called Mystery Valley.  Instead of the huge monument structures that you view from afar in MV, this area contains other forms of rock structure as well as many areas of historical and archeological interest.  AND, you see them close up.  This whole area is guide only.  Arches, cliff dwellings, remnants of Navajo homes, petroglyphs and pictographs, and outstanding views close up.  Gouldings offers an all day tour that combines Mystery Valley and Monument Valley.  That is what we did and enjoyed the entire day. Managed to get in a swim after the tour to wash off the dust from a day in an open tour truck. We finished the day with a trip back to the Tribal visitors center to catch sunset light on the mittens with less smoke today.


Goes by many names.  One is ‘Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble’



An arch


Very old house Smile


Shards of pottery


Another arch.  There is a dwelling tucked into the shadow to the left of the arch.


Our tour guide is gathering some Juniper pitch to put on a sore (open blister) on the palm of her hand.  Actually looked better in just a short time.



Another arch.  There were many.



Cave in center of picture was used as a location in John Wayne movie ‘The Searchers’.  We saw the movie the next night and recognized the spot.



This is called ‘House of Many Hands’ because of hand images worked in to stone wall above it.


This type of image is called a pictograph.  Hand was used as a stencil and material was worked in to wall around it. Actually painting the rock.


Several different colors are used .




These are petroglyphs.  Image scratched in to stone.



Tour includes lunch prepared by guide.






Part of Monument Valley tour.  ‘Sleeping Dragon’



For $5 you could be sitting on the horse.


‘North Window’





Sunset light on Monument Valley