Also known as Chaco Canyon this location is a fascinating place. The canyon is home to several large pueblos, each with many kivas. The kivas are round “rooms” that were accessed using ladders down into them. Some were large, capable of holding over 100 people while others were smaller.
I camped there for 2 nights and visited three of the pueblos. Pueblo Bonito is the largest, but some of the others are nearly as large, covering two or more acres. Photographs help but they don’t really capture the feeling of the place. It is estimated that construction lasted about 300 years, starting in 850 AD. The engineering is amazing, I just wish there was more info available, so much is speculation based on the evidence left behind. For example it is known that the Chacoans were active traders. It appears they used Turquoise themselves for decorating various things and traded it extensively. In exchange they got cocoa, macaws, shells, etc.
In Pueblo Bonito it is believed there were close to 600 rooms, but many of them were used for storage, having no ventilation, light, heat, etc. Most of the rooms were very small and the doorways into them an interesting challenge since they tend to have high thresholds and low clearance.
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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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