The sun was on its way up as I left Flagstaff and started for Monument Valley.
The sky was cloudy, but off in the distance I could see them breaking up beyond the pine trees and snow-dusted mountains. Morning skies can often be just as good as sunsets, however I had very little time to enjoy this one: I had to make it to Monument Valley by noon.I had read that there would be snow and/or rain in the area that afternoon, and there was no way I was going to go through back-to-back days of disappointment. Turns out I was right – I did the second half of the Wildcat Trail in the snow. Flash forward a few hours and there are two inches of snow out on my balcony, and I recently brushed off the boat for the third time.
Those things will be interesting in the morning when it’s time to move on, but for now I’m basking in the enjoyment I received from the hike. I had plenty of time to explore the monuments (video in the works) and had great views for the first two hours. To say these things are humbling is not enough – the size is unbelievable.
I climbed halfway up and was tested, the loose gravel a constant threat (that’s as far as you can go without climbing gear). The view was worth it – it’s amazing how flat it is except for the monuments – it’s sort of bizarre.
Then the weather rolled in and I walked the two miles back to the hotel in the snow, watching the red clay slowly turn white. The colors were rather nice – the red and the white and the green of the snakegrass (couldn’t find any rattlesnakes or scorpions).I don’t want to go all poetic on you, yet it was hard to escape the quiet and sense of peace that comes as a snowstorm approaches. The snow was light and I was dressed for the cold, which made everything seem so calm, controlled even.
The View is a really nice hotel, lots of great photography (of Monument Valley) and authentic Navajo artwork. Obviously, the hotel is named for its line of sight – the view from my room is spectacular (see photo – I was able to enjoy it for a half hour before the hike, but when I came back the fog had completely taken over). The lobby has a really nice fireplace and is comfortable, although don’t look too hard for the bar – there isn’t one (it’s a dry county).
Something else I found: If you’re not a hiker or are short on time, there is an unpaved road that you can drive that will take you right beside all the rocks, with turnouts to stop and take photos (I passed on it only because I didn’t like the sound of more driving).
Check out the photos: