Monument Valley, pt. 2
The View Campground in Monument Valley
Amenities: bathrooms with toilets and showers, The View Restaurant within walking distance
If, for whatever reason, you ever find yourself in Monument Valley with 4 hours to spare, I HIGHLY suggest you go on a guided tour. Because of the privacy and sacredness of the Navajo land, much of the park is off-limits to visitors... unless they have a guide.
I did a ton of research about the tours before we left and ended up booking one with Blackwater Tours. It was AMAZING! Somehow, Logan and I were lucky enough to be the only ones on our tour - which meant we got privately shown around some of the coolest places in America.
Our guide, Brian, was great. Definitely a little shy and softspoken, but he had so much knowledge to share and gave us some really awesome special treatment (more on that later). We started out on the normal Valley Drive, part of which we had done that morning (see part one for more). We actually stopped at lookouts this time, though, and we learned names of far away buttes from Brian.
As soon as we turned down the private road, I knew I had made the right decision in booking a tour. There's so much more to the Valley than what you can see from that road, and we got to meet members of one of the 15 families that live there. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
On that private road, we got to see arches and petroglyphs (which, after Arches NP, are some of my absolute favorite things). It was amazing to me that things things exist AND that at each one, Logan, Brian, and I were the only ones around for miles. It was so different from every other "tourist destination" that I've been to.
At Sun's Eye there were petroglyphs - I think Brian could tell that Logan and I were in AWE of them, because he offered to show us more in a way that made it seem like he doesn't usually do that. We drove a short distance to another rock formation that had even more petroglyphs and my heart soared. I love thinking about history in this sense - in the mindset that people lived and worshipped here and found things so beautiful and inspiring, they carved them into the very rocks they used as altars.
I almost felt like I was intruding on something private while on this tour. This land is so untouched and protected that it felt strange to walk around. Every time we stopped somewhere I would ask Brian if he was sure it was okay to get out and he eventually started laughing at me before saying, "yes it's okay to go up there."
Eventually we finished our drive down the private roads and got back on Valley Drive. The clouds started looking INCREDIBLY ominous, and I was nervous about a storm blowing in - the winds were supposed to die down by like 5:00, but it was nearing that time and the winds had only gotten stronger. We finished our tour, but decided not to wait for sunset and instead to go back to the tent.
We made a decision that if it did in fact storm, we would leave. I love camping and I love my tent, but I didn't feel like getting stuck in a desert spring thunderstorm. Knowing that was our plan, we rushed to get to FORREST GUMP POINT! If you've ever seen Forrest Gump - the scene where he decides to end his cross-country run takes place just outside of Monument Valley. It's the reason this place was on my radar and one of the things I was most excited about doing (Forrest Gump is my all-time favorite movie AND I'm basically in love with Tom Hanks).
I was so giddy and excited the entire time we were here, but also a little upset because the storm did in fact roll in and we were leaving. We rushed back to our tent to find that it had been blown almost a foot from where we pitched it (despite being staked in) and our neighbors had piled rocks on it for us. We realized then (and once we got inside and saw another inch of sand on everything) that we were making the right decision. We packed up, watched the sunset, and then headed to Moab.
This trip is definitely going down as one of my absolute favorites. If you're going West, it's definitely worth the detour.