The View Hotel immediately lived up to its name this morning as we lay in bed and watched the sunrise over Monument Valley. Fortunately, sunrise in this part of the world is about 7:20am, so I coped (as those that know me well will attest, I am not an early riser … )
There are two ways to explore Monument Valley – either taking a self drive tour over a 17 mile dirt road loop, or with a guide that takes you on the public route but also to some parts of the valley not open to the public.
Having successfully used guides in other parts of the world, we booked a 2 and a half hour tour with one of the long list of Navajo tour guides, both to access the non-public areas but also to hear more about Navajo history and culture. Tripadvisor confirmed that lots of tourists had experienced fascinating tours with knowledgeable and entertaining Navajo guides.
Our tour guide was a softly speaking Navajo who brought along his toddler daughter in his white tour van. Throughout the tour, the toddler sat in his lap, curiously looking at the strange folk in the back seat.
Whilst he was a nice enough fellow, his skills as a tour guide were limited at best. His commentary mainly described what was physically in front of us, rather than providing much insight into the way of life of the Navajo.
In recent history each of the “monuments” have been given names by what the stone structure looks like – ie the Mittens, the Sleeping Dragon, the Thumb, the Totem Pole, even Snoopy (which did, in fact, look a lot like Snoopy).
One of the more famous monuments is the 3 Sisters. I had thought their might have been some spiritual legend to go with the naming of the monument, in the way that aboriginals or many Asian cultures have legends that go with the physical landmarks. If there are Navajo legends around these monuments, our guide didn’t seem to know them.
Nonetheless, we were one of the few vehicles in the valley on a clear blue sky morning and were able to explore and experience Monument Valley at its enchanting best.
Monument Valley definitely lived up to expectations. Unfortunately, our tour guide did not.
The forecast for today was a 30% chance of snow. As we sat in the hotel restaurant for lunch, clouds started rolling in. Within minutes, the valley had been clouded in and the snow began to fall. That dictated our afternoon’s activity, as the white out closed in.
So after a morning of exploring, we enjoyed an afternoon of books, naps, checking emails and writing, all the while catching glimpses, through intermittent breaks in the clouds, of the valley being blanketed in snow.