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  1. #1

    Default The Monument Valley Experience

    I don't know whether or not this is the right forum for this thread, but my experience was certainly "off the beaten Path."

    In 2007 my wife and I took a road trip that included Monument Valley. I had always seen the wonderful pictures of "The Hands" and, of course, I loved all the John Wayne movies that were shot in that locale, so I just had to see it for real.

    We drove down from the Moki Dugway through Mexican Hat and got that great view of the lonely highway 163 with the formations in the distance. When we arrived at the turnoff to MV, I was surprised to see that it was paved only to the parking lot. There were tours offered with Navajo guides, but we were a little pressed for time. There was an option to drive yourself through the valley at your own pace for (I think) $5, so we took it.

    I should have realized that we were in for trouble when we got about half-a-mile in. There was a wash where a recent rain had created a huge muddy mess. We drove our 2005 Toyota Sienna through like the rest of the traffic and continued on a rough and dusty road. At one point, the mesquite was right up against the car, and we sustained a huge scratch along the side that never did buff out. By the time we got back to the parking lot, our van was in need of a complete wash and detail.

    Now I did enjoy the scenery in Monument Valley, and I can see why so many people want to go there, but my lasting impression is of a filthy car with a 8-foot scratch down the side. I determined that the view from the parking lot would have been just fine for me. I don't know if the road has ever been improved, but I would pass it by if I ever get there again.

    Anybody want to discuss or dispute this?
    Roadhawk

  2. Default

    Last year we did a tour of MV and used Navajo Spirit tours who I can highly recommend. Their guides know where they're going. They can travel to places the public cannot normally access and they know all the great photo spots.

    Also, no damage to your car! Usually meet up at the Overview.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-16-2015 at 05:56 PM. Reason: preferred URL format herein

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Just part of the deal

    Harry, the road has always been bad. Some years it is less rutted, but there's no incentive on anyone's part to fix it.

    I've driven it many, many times over the years. I always enjoy it.

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    I was last there in 2010 and didn't find it to be too bad of a road. It was gravel and had it's share of ruts and washboard, but I never thought my car was in any kind of danger. I was in a small SUV, and the road seemed in much, much better condition than the drive out to Mulie Point, above the Moki Dugway, that I had done earlier that day.

    I wouldn't recommend driving a rental car out there, as it would almost certainly be in violation of the contract and could result in a bunch of problem, but when I was driving the loop, I remember seeing a Ford Mustang driving the road so even a sports car was able to navigate it.

  5. #5

    Default Bad Day in Red Rock

    Quote Originally Posted by BritTrip View Post
    Last year we did a tour of MV and used Navajo Spirit tours who I can highly recommend. Their guides know where they're going. They can travel to places the public cannot normally access and they know all the great photo spots.

    Also, no damage to your car! Usually meet up at the Overview.
    Well, we've passed MV several times since that bad experience and kept on driving. Maybe it's time to break down and spend a few bucks to use the guides. I wasn't aware that they go to places where private vehicles cannot get access. Next trip we'll try the Navajo Spirit Tours. Thanks for the advice.

  6. #6

    Default

    This past October, I drove south from Arches NP on US 191 on the way to Flagstaff. I knew that US 163 was a scenic route but didn't know it went through/by Monument Valley until later on. Have to save US 191 wasn't bad itself. But US 191 soon became US 160 which really wasn't anything special.

    In July 2016, it will be another road trip with more SW content. Part of the plan is to drive US 163 as part of my routing from the Grand Canyon North Rim on the way to Mesa Verde. The Moki Dugway is also part of that scenic drive. Where to spend an overnight is up in the air: van camp at Natural Bridges NP, or grab a motel in Blanding or Monticello.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Highway 191

    Quote Originally Posted by landmariner View Post
    This past October, I drove south from Arches NP on US 191 on the way to Flagstaff. I knew that US 163 was a scenic route but didn't know it went through/by Monument Valley until later on. Have to say US 191 wasn't bad itself. But US 191 soon became US 160 which really wasn't anything special.
    If you drove US191 south, you could have taken that all the way to the Mexican border, and found it quite scenic with many rarely mentioned points of interest along the way. There was no need to turn onto 160.

    Agreed, 163 from North Rim to Mesa Verda (via Four Corners) would make a fantastic day. I did that heading west in 2007, and recall wanting to stop every mile, just to take another photo.

    Quote Originally Posted by landmariner View Post
    Where to spend an overnight is up in the air: van camp at Natural Bridges NP, or grab a motel in Blanding or Monticello.
    From memory, there are a few Public Lands campsites in that area. Just south of Monticello, there is Devils Canyon campground in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Even in August there was only one other RV there.

    Lifey

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks for the commentary on US 191... will keep that in mind for future travels. On this past October trip is seemed way out of the way compared to US 160... as it was I pulled into Flagstaff around 7p, and very tired.

    I noticed the Devils Canyon campground--seemed inviting. At that point I might need, however, a motel night break from camping, the luxury of stumbling only 20 ft. to a bathroom and hot shower in the morning ;)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Haven't you been to Goulding's yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Kline View Post
    Maybe it's time to break down and spend a few bucks to use the guides.
    Another thing to remember, there are lots of semi-public roads all through the region and since people live on those roads they are maintained year-round. Most are gravel -- but you can see most of the Monument Valley without driving into the Tribal Park. Some of my favorite photos from that region were not captured within the park area.

    At the least, the next time you are there -- stop at Goulding's Lodge. Fantastic views of some of the park from the restaurant. A great movie museum and if you really want a guided tour to some of the region -- they can set that up for you too.

    Oh, and the trading post often has some pretty unique art!

    Mark

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