Monument Valley is east of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, roughly a 2-3 hour drive, depending on your speed and stops. Mostly dry desert with a few tiny towns along the way. This area is by far the dryest and windiest so far. I checked into Gouldings Campground, across the road from Monument Valley Tribal Park around mid day. After settling in I went into the park to get a map and feel for the layout. There is a 17 mile drive you can do on your own, if you want to see a bit more you must take one of the tours. I decided to return around 6 pm or later (drive closes at 8 pm) so I would get better late day light. I checked into the tours and from what I could see most are conducted during the hottest, sunniest, windiest, dustiest part of the day, from around 9 or 10 am until late afternoon. That isn’t conducive to the best photos so I decided to skip the tours.
My trip late on the 29th yielded some nice shots. I was up early on the 30th and got over to the entrance road to the park, stopped and got some striking sunrise shots, then did the loop drive so my photos were all early morning that day. Around mid day I decided to take a drive to the 4 corners area, where NM, CO, UT & AZ meet. It was a long drive in high winds with extreme dust blowing. Now I can say “been there, done that”.
Gouldings (motel, campground, trading post, etc.) has a long history in the area starting from the 1920s when Harry Gouldings and his wife Mike arrived and opened a trading post. Among the places to visit here is a very nice little museum with history of the area. Many movies were filmed in Monument Valley and along with photos and other items of interest you can watch various John Wayne movies in the little theater.
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