I had hoped to go for a morning run whilst in Kayenta, but at the time I’d need to go out, even for a short 5K run, it would have been in complete darkness. As I didn’t have my head-torch on me I had no choice but to miss another run.
We went for breakfast at 06:30 so that we could get to the Monument Valley visitor centre around the opening time. The problem though is that the restaurant didn’t open on time, and then it took almost 30 minutes to get our blueberry pancakes. Me and my friend received our juices a good 10 minutes before my sister was given hers as well. We did however also order some packed lunch to take with us, though this took quite some effort as the waitress couldn’t remember what they had.
When we finally left the hotel it was about 30 minutes later than we’d hoped, but we still arrived at the visitor centre not too long after it had opened. We found that the “Wildcat” trail which was a 5K hike was closed indefinitely which meant all we could do was the 17 mile drive around the valley. This really disappointed my sister who was looking forward to the walk, but at least we were still going to get to see the valley.
Monument Valley is on Navajo land and is run by them as a popular tourist attraction. It was created during the Paleozoic era when the ground here which was once beneath the sea was forced up, and by the time of the Jurassic era had hardened into rock creating the formations we see today.
The drive around monument valley is on unpaved road, and wouldn’t really be suitable for anything other than 4×4; but we did see smaller cars struggle around (including an Aston Martin). Along the valley drive there are 11 official stops, but there’s also various other places where it’s safe to pull off the road and take photos. We did of course make sure we stopped at every one and this took around 3 hours to complete.
At John Fords Point Overlook there was also the opportunity to have your photograph taken on a horse for $5, though this is something we didn’t really have time to wait for as they were still setting up. At the stop for “The Thumb” there is also a drive further out to “North Window Overlook” where you can hike along a short trail. The loop eventually ends with it overlapping some of the road travelled along previously so that it finishes back at the visitor centre.
We sat outside, looking at the landscape around us and ate our packed lunch before starting the drive back to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. My sister had been feeling a little off so it wasn’t a pleasant drive for her, but by the time we made a stop in Cameron, an old trading post, she had been feeling considerably better.
More time passed and eventually we crossed into the Grand Canyon National Park though it was some time before we reached the actual entrance. Before entering we made a stop at a viewpoint where we could go for a walk along the canyon edge and look down. This offered what I thought at the time to be great views of the canyon.
Once we’d finished at the viewpoint we drove straight through the park and onward to the Dumplin Patch bed and breakfast where we’d be staying at in Valle. The check-in here was simple – I just confirmed my name and was then shown to a room as this one had been pre-paid for. Having dropped off our luggage we then drove back into the Grand Canyon National Park.
Our first stop was the visitor centre, but we arrived at it’s door at 17:00 – the exact time it closed. Instead we walked around to the back of it to where Mather Point is located. It was difficult taking photographs however due to the long shadows from the setting sun, but it was an impressive sight. It looked far more amazing that the viewpoint we’d seen earlier.
When we moved on we drove around to another viewpoint and walked along some of the edge until it was almost time for sunset. This one allowed us to get pretty close to the edge, and to take photographs without a railing or other tourists in the way.
Before the sun had set we were on our way back through Tusayan and looking for somewhere to eat. We went with the Yippee-ei-o Steakhouse that did amazingly big meals for very reasonable prices. We all went for the chicken option that came with a jacket potato, corn on the cob, beans, salad, and a scone (which they refer to as biscuit).
We were then back in Valle before 20:00 so we could relax before the final day.