Home > Uncategorized > Day 47: John Wayne had the right idea

Day 47: John Wayne had the right idea

Location: Cove Fort, UT

Miles driven: 711

Total Miles: 11,644

I woke up especially early (3AM-ish) in order to get to Monument Valley not long after the sunrise.  It was a fast three-hours drive, and I was not disappointed when I arrived on the outskirts of Monument Valley, a place where John Wayne filmed many of his westerns.

It was only a few miles down the road from here to Monument Valley Tribal Park.  See, Monument Valley is on land owned by the Navajo, and they independently maintain the area, run a visitor center, and manage tours.  It was only $5 admission.  Hell, they could’ve charged $50 and I still would’ve paid it.  Here’s why:

Absolutely unreal.  When I started putting this trip idea together over a year ago, Monument Valley was one of the first places I listed down.  I had only see pictures and video second-hand.  What a mind-blowing sight.  It was close to 95 degrees out, but I had no problem just sitting on the stone wall admiring this view.

The visitor center was pretty impressive.  There were a lot of displays about the history of the Navajo in the region, their participation in WWII, and of the people who currently occupy the land.  The Navajo here, on the whole, are impoverished, so it was good to know my admission money (and subsequent cafe/gift shop money) was going toward to the community here.

I looked into taking a horse ride tour, but it would’ve been about $60 for just a half hour, so I decided I’d do some hiking on my own.  There was a three-mile hike that took you around one of the buttes, and I enjoyed taking my time wandering through this part of the desert.

Starting out on the Wildcat Trail

Multi-colored lizard

great views on the hike

This image looks manipulated, but it's just a trick of perception

Finished the hike

After the hike, I took some time to relax, grabbed a bite from the cafe, and then made my way north towards Hwy 261. 

Saying goodbye to Monument Valley

Next, I climbed up the “Moki Dugway” which, through a series of switchbacks, elevates you above the surrounding valley and gives you some great views.

See that plateau? I got to the top of that with my car

View from the top

Continued in a northern direction towards Moab, Utah, which sits right next to Arches National Park, where I planned to do a little more hiking before the day was out.

I arrived in Moab in the early afternoon, but I was thinking I’d hike later in the evening when the sun is going down and it might be a little cooler.  So I did some driving around the area.

Great views along Hwy 128

amazing country

Made my way to the park a little after 8PM, and headed towards the Delicate Arch area.

Balanced Rock

Made it to the Delicate Arch parking area, and I was caught off-guard by the number of cars there.  Even the spots in the overflow lot were taken.  Seems everyone was doing the Delicate Arch hike so they could see it as the sun went down.  I was a little dismayed by the crowds, but still content, as I had the opportunity to do the hike back in 2005.  Here’s a picture from then:

Delicate Arch

So instead of doing the crowded hike to Delicate Arch, I chose to go to the Delicate Arch Overlook to get a view of the arch that I had never seen.

Unfortunately, in neither of those images can you gain a sense of appreciation for how big the arch is.  Since 2005, whenever I showed my pictures of Delicate Arch to others, I chided myself for not getting a shot of somebody next to it to give a sense of perspective.  Looks like I managed to fail to provide any perspective again…but trust me, Delicate Arch is huge (52′ tall, to be exact).

I left the park before it was too dark, and made my way west on I-70.  I drove farther than I initially intended, and then found a rest stop near Cove Fort, UT, and crashed for the night.  My schedule continues to be pretty loose.  I’m thinking I’ll keep the driving to a minimum tomorrow, maybe hit up Zion National Park, and then head west to Nevada, eventually.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. The Mommie
    July 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks for taking me on this incredible adventure!

    I especially liked the colorful lizard. I wonder if the gecko knows about him? He certainly is more attractive than Sir Gecko! Wonder if he is as talented?

    “Each particle of matter is an immensity; each leaf a world; each insect an inexplicable compendium.”

  2. July 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    The Gieco gecko pales in comparison to this lizard!
    Love the red rock scenery. Nice job on the tricky perspective picture. Did you really drive up that plateau?
    **shaking head** I was expecting a picture of the Delicate Arch with a person standing next to it ever since you mentioned it. Stop slacking off!

    • July 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      Yup, drove up to the top of that plateau. The road winds and winds up, and it’s narrow, but still safe to do.

      **feeling shame** about strike 2 with Delicate Arch. haha. Only means I’ll have to return there again

  3. July 16, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Moki Dugway rules — that’s cool you took that stretch. Have fun in the UT.

    • July 17, 2010 at 11:15 am

      You know man, it was because of your website that I knew about Moki Dugway at all. You seem to know a lot of the “unknown” places in the West. Your website has given me a host of ideas

  4. July 17, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Received your postcard from Big Bend. We’ve been following you through your website since you left Lubec. It’s been great fun enjoying the photos and meeting your friends.
    Thanks for thinking of us.

    Sue & Dennis
    Peacock House B&B
    Lubec, Maine

    • July 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm

      You bet! Glad you are enjoying following along, and hope business is going well this summer. Peacock House is my recommendation to everyone going to Maine.

  5. July 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Looking forward to seeing how things go once you get into Canada. I’m kind of planning a trip through BC/Alberta up to Skagway or so for next August.

    • July 25, 2010 at 1:58 am

      Just looked up Skagway online – looks pretty cool. Lots of history, it seems. Will you continue on to Alaska (I mean you will be right at the doorstep)?

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