The Grand Circle - Monument Valley
Next stop on the Grand Circle Roadtrip: Monument Valley
Monument Valley is characterized by a cluster of Sandstone buttes on the Arizona - Utah state line, located within the Navajo Nation. It is featured in over 20 featured films, dating back to the 1930's and including titles such as Stagecoach, Forrest Gump, Mission Impossible II, Back to the Future III, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Because of it's prevalence in various forms of media, it is imagined by many as The Wild West. The buttes are part of a larger area known as the Colorado Plateau. It is a half way point from Page, Arizona to Moab, Utah which makes it a must see stop on the American Southwest Road trip.
The most iconic of the buttes include "The Mittens" (pictured below), Totem Pole and the Three Sisters. Visitors may pay a fee (currently $5.00) get into the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and travel by car on the scenic 17-mile dirt road loop. Other options include hiking and travel by horseback (recommended - more details below.) In addition, be sure to check out the museum at Goulding's Trading Post (http://www.gouldings.com) adjacent to the Tribal park and a site on the National Register of Historic Places.
Before visiting the park please visit http://navajonationparks.org/htm/monumentvalley.htm for updated information.
As Monument Valley is a must see on the Grand Circle road trip, there are several alternate areas of interest before making your way to Utah's Mighty Five. However, since our trip was 10 days long we were unable to make it to the locations listed below.
-Mesa Verde National Park - Anasazi Ruins (CO): http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm
-Natural Bridges National Monument (UT): http://www.nps.gov/nabr/index.htm
-Four Corners Monument (NM): http://www.navajonationparks.org/htm/fourcorners.htm
-Hovenweep National Monument (CO/UT): http://www.nps.gov/hove/index.htm
-Chaco Culture National Historic Park (NM): http://www.nps.gov/chcu/index.htm
Next stop on the Grand Circle road trip: Moab, UT