Monument Valley under the Milky Way
After leaving Goosenecks SP in UT I spent 2 nights near Monument Valley. Then it was up to Moab where I spent some time in Arches NP after dark. I wasn’t the only one there, seems
Milky Way over Balanced Rock, Arches NP, Moab, UT
that more people are finding out about night skies!
Right behind the RV park I stayed at is a large arena and I was happy to find that they were hosting a PRCA rodeo starting the last evening I was to be there. What great fun it was with top quality competitors and stock.
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We left Moab and had one night at Monument Valley, staying at Gouldings RV park. It’s only about 5 miles from there to the Monument Valley Tribal Park so we went over late in the day then again the next morning before heading out to the Grand Canyon.
I saw this puddle on our evening drive but the Three Sisters were in shadow so the next morning we were able to capture them reflected in the puddle. I bet most folks just drive on by, never seeing the reflection.
Fortunately the night was very clear so I went out to capture the Milky Way over some of the monuments. There is no access into the Tribal Park after 8 pm, so I stopped at a couple of pull outs along rt. 163 to get these images.
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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