Even though we anticipated leaving this morning, we couldn't bear to miss the Monument Valley 17-mile trip and a 3.6 mile hike that takes us to "West Mitten" butte...we knew it was a day-long tour, so we extended our stay for another night and then headed out for the Navajo Reservation beauty. A note on the "Goulding's" everything...by everything, I mean: RV park, grocery, museum, park shuttle, lodge, gas station, restaurant, food court, laundromat, earth spirit theatre, gift shop and Monument Valley guided tours! The Goulding's story centers on Harry and his wife Leone, known as "Mike"--they were sheep traders in the valley in the early 1920's looking for a new business opportunity. When the reservation relocated, land came up for sale. They purchased some and set up a Trading Post.
During the depression, the Navajo Reservation had tough times, too, so Harry and Mike decided to try to sell a movie production company on the idea of movies made in the Southwest. This was to bring $ to Monument Valley and bring income to the local Navajos. Travelling to Hollywood, they met John Ford, director, and after being shown pictures of the area, he gave them an advance and immediately sent crew to the area for filming of "Stagecoach" starring John Wayne! Too bad it's not so easy to drum up $ during a economic downturn now!
Anyway, we entered the Navajo Reservation excited about the 17-mile drive we would do first thing. We got a small map of the area showing the buttes along the drive and a warning that only 4x4 vehicles with high clearance allowed on the drive. We went on in our Honda 4-wheel drive and had gorgeous views right away!
The road wasn't great, with extreme wash-boarding in places and big pot holes, but we were fine. Here's an example of the road:
We stopped at the Artists Point, which was also a stop for a French tour group in two tour jeeps (so about 25 people) just before us. We were so impressed with the number of foreign travelers here as well as their desire to talk to Americans and were kind enough to take a photo of us at the point:
We continued to the John Ford point and had another beautiful spot to see the beautiful buttes and stark country-side. Here's a picture that I took of a native horseman pausing to determine where to go, with elephant butte in the background.
We finished our drive and headed to the trailhead for our 3.6 mile hike around the "mitten" butte,shown below. We were only 2 of maybe 5 on the trail (and no other dogs except Casey Noddle) for the entire trail... we enjoyed solitude and beautiful vistas!
We saw a lizard (probably 2' or so) scamper away from us on the trail, and also these horses grazing on the grasses and brilliantly green (this is like spray-on grass green on steroids) flora. The horse poop was even brilliant green! These were free-range horses and doing well.
The hike led us down from the lip of the campground, around the "mitten" buttes (east and west), and back up. Beautiful!!