Travel Thoughts By Kim

By Kim Pritt, Contributor Posted 30 April 2022 at 2:00 pm

Let’s go on an adventure together….to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park!

Me in the “mitten pose” in front of the rock formation called….you guessed it…..The Mittens.

The last state I needed to visit to reach my goal of visiting all 50 states was New Mexico. It may have been admitted as the 47th state in the union on January 6, 1912, but it was “my” 50th state as of October 2019. My first big adventure in New Mexico was visiting Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Museum” and it is absolutely incredible! Monument Valley is part of a large Navajo territory that spreads across the borders of New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado – the bulk of the land is in Utah and Arizona. The actual Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a National Park that sits well within the Navajo Reservation and is protected by the Navajo people. They are very proud of their land and their heritage and are excited to share their cultures and history.

Navajo native tour guide – Comasheena – was amazing! She shared stories about her culture and her people and told us all about the history of the area.

Direct quote from the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park web site: “The delicate spires and gigantic buttes of this natural wonder at the Arizona-Utah border form the core of the Navajo Tribal Park, spanning an area of 91,696 acres (37,108 hectares) across the two states. The aptly named Monument Valley has been oft featured in popular films, most notably those of Director John Ford, its stoic forms forever immortalized as icons of the American West. The mammoth buttes, like sleeping giants, rise from the wind-swept landscape alongside towering spires of rock like the striated pinnacles of an ancient cathedral. As the sun makes its way across the sky each day, the landscape appears to shift while the clouds overhead chase their shadows across the richly-hued desert terrain. The overall effect is one of haunting beauty hewn of sandstone and shaped by the elements. Quite a drive from Flagstaff, but well worth the scenic trip, Monument Valley is deep within the Navajo Nation Reserve. Here, the Navajo continue to adhere to age-old traditions, living life in the image of their ancestors.”

You may explore the park on your own, but the rough terrain is best navigated with a 4×4 vehicle. Also, there are parts that are not accessible by the general public unless accompanied by a Navajo guide. So, I chose a tour put on by Monument Valley Safari Tours. It was an awesome 3.5 hour tour in a 4×4 Jeep with a Navajo guide – our guide was amazing – her name was Comasheena. The tour took us to all the common areas and then went off road further in to the restricted areas of the park. They restrict these areas because they want to ensure the formations and the land are not desecrated in any way. I’m so glad I booked the tour – our guide made it so interesting and the best views were definitely in the areas that the general public are restricted from.

The rock formations throughout the park are all natural and not interfered with my humans in any way. If they erode or break down, they stay that way. The natives believe that nature must be left to run its course. However, they can keep outside threats from speeding up the natural course by restricting access where they can.

Throughout the tour, we saw breathtaking views and natural rock formations, learned all about the culture and history of the Navajo people, visited authentic Navajo dwellings called Hogans, saw an ancient Anasazi cliff dwelling ruin, heard a stunning Navajo song played in a cave with perfect acoustics (the video is in the blog post – don’t miss clicking on it), and saw ancient Petroglyphs.

Our guide stopped at all the best places for photos – this is one example. She showed us where to stand to get the “money shot” of a tree with a rock formation in the background – together at just the right spot, they are said to represent a “slingshot to heaven”.

After I left Monument Valley, I drove to Four Corners Monument – the only place in the United States where four states all border each other: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. That was a bit of a let-down, but still pretty cool to say I was there and stood on the spot where all the states touch each other. From there, I spent a few days in the Albuquerque and Sante Fe areas, which I won’t go into here, but will include the blog link below for you to check out.

So….that put a cap on my “Visit all 50 states” bucket list item. If you’re ever out in that area of the country – and, you really SHOULD go see it, if you never have – be sure to put Monument Valley on your to-do list. You won’t regret it. And, if you really want to experience ALL of it, consider spending the money for one of the Navajo guided tours — totally worth every penny!

Click here for my blog post on Monument Valley.

And, for more on the rest of my time in New Mexico, check out this blog post.

Happy Adventuring!
Kim Pritt