Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Southern Utah

On Saturday, we planned to go to Monument Valley in southern Utah with Mike and Pam. The day began auspiciously when we heard that snow was forecast for Flagstaff. We left Sedona in a drizzle but by the time we got half way through Oak Creek Canyon, the rain turned to snow and almost white out conditions at the high point in the canyon. We were driving in the clouds. Once we got past Flag, though conditions improved.
We drove through the Sunset Crater loop again and the Nobles were equally impressed with the mile long field of lava that looked as fresh and craggy today as it must have looked 1100 years ago when the volcano erupted. That is a fascinating place.

But the goal was to get to Monument Valley in the early afternoon so we could take their 17 mile self-guided tour. So we carried on.
We got to the new Navajo hotel called The View . It was aptly named as the view was stupendous. However, it is a new hotel and not quite ready for prime time. The food wasn't great, the service was slow, but the staff was very nice and friendly. All that can be accepted when you take a look at the view from our room in the photo on the right

We drove the Jeep on the loop. The previous time we were here with the Bronchuks, we took a guided tour with a Navajo. This time we did our own tour. The weather changed a lot while we were there. From the restaurant you have a view of the valley from horizon to horizon and can see all different types of weather. A band of snow move in and dropped a white cover on one formation while others nearby were in the sun. Really amazing. Here are just a couple of photos to show what I mean.

I just about filled my camera with shots from Monument Valley, but I won't bore you with all of them (now!).
We had my Utah Off-Road book with us and found a couple of trails nearby that looked interesting. So, after a quick trip back through Monument Valley in the morning we set off to find the John's Canyon trail about 25 miles north. We found the trail easily enough. There is not much out in this part of the country. The dirt road led over a flat mesa where the only other occupants were the cattle grazing. I have a ton more cattle photos now. The book said we would enter the Glen Canyon recreaction park but all we could see was the mesa we were on and cliffs leading up to higher mesas. Until we went around the corner of one of the cliffs and we all let out a collective, simultaneous "WOW!". To our left appeared Glen Canyon, below us. What a sight. The road led right along the cliff at many points that made the ride interesting. Here are just a couple of shots of the canyon. Notice the rear view mirror in the one on the left...

The book also said there were petroglyphs to be found along the route, so we made it our goal to find them. We succeeded and found the etchings on boulders that could be more than 1000 years old. Just laying out in the wilderness.

On the way to actually enter into John's Canyon, we rounded a blind corner and found a herd of a dozen or so cattle in front of us on the road. We crept up on them to kind of egg them on to move out of the way. As there was no place for them to go, up or down, they just walked along the road stopping to look back at us and then continuing until they found a place where they could get off the road. I wasn't sure if one of them might turn and charge us, but we made it safely by.
John's Canyon was also spectacular, as we came in on the canyon floor and looked up at the walls. It went on for miles. We headed back for our next adventure.

We needed gas, so we stopped at a station to fill up and we ate our Easter Dinner at the Shell Food Mart in Mexican Hat, Utah. We enjoyed rice cakes, crackers, peanut butter and some banana bread.

Our last tour, and the last entry in this post, was The Valley of the Gods. This area is north or Monument Valley and just about its equal in beauty. The loop through the valley is an upaved road that is pretty suitable for passenger cars. There are lots of named formations. At different times we had the impression that we were looking at ancient Roman ruins or parts of a cathedral. Parts of Planet of the Apes were filmed there. It was really stunning.

1 comment:

  1. What incredible desolation. Beautiful but eery at the same time.

    Easter dinner at the Shell Station reminds me of an October Sunday in Bad Gotesburg. Three starving teen-aged boys, three starving adult children of the tyrant who had his own agenda( and had brought his own food) grazing for lunch in the gas station mini-mart rather than be allowed a sit down Sunday lunch.