Thursday, June 6, 2013

Monument Valley

Start in Tucson, continue past Phoenix to Flagstaff. Work your way north through these places and you're still only half way to your destination. Monument Valley.

Based in the Navajo Tribal Park which was established in 1958, the slogan is “Where the Earth meets the Sky”. It works pretty well in that the mesas do stand out, and technically they do touch the sky, but so does a pebble lying on the surface. It is very impressive though, I’m certainly not taking anything away from the formations. The Navajo reservation itself takes up about 30000 sq miles of the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona and southern Utah.

The areas geology is mostly sandstone with the odd volcanic plug. The origin of mush of the sandstone material is the Colorado Mountains, albeit from a few hundred million years ago. The Colorado Plateau itself started uplifting about 65 million years ago. And the constant erosion since has led to the landscape and structures seen today. 

And as time goes on these will continue to change. The erosion will turn the Mesas into Buttes into Spires.

The Monument Valley Visitor Center and Museum is next to The View Hotel. These buildings are on the edge of the valley looking east over the monuments. Within them there are bit and pieces for sale and the history of the area and the Navajo inhabitants. As a mining industry worker, it was interesting to read about the history of uranium mining in the region and how that has affected the workers and their families during and after the process.

The Valley Drive is the 27km dirt road that allows visitors a chance to drive around and between monuments. It's a little rough in places, but when you see a new Camaro driving the path, you know most vehicles will be fine. At various stops around the drive there were also stalls where the Navajo were able to sell their crafts. Along with this, there was also plenty of evidence of even more prolonged natives of various sizes.

The drive itself takes in most of the monuments, with a few of the more spatially disassociated and interesting structures on a guided tour only. So no "window" for me. But the shapes that are easily navigable were fantastic to see in their own right.

From Monument Valley Reservation a drive north takes you to the town of Mexican Hat on the banks of the San Juan River. The town is named after a rock formation just north of town which almost resembles a sombrero upside down on top of the rocks.

It's a beautiful place to visit if you enjoy the dry landscapes and the colours are amazing. It is certainly another place I'd like to revisit but then there are a number of places that need a first visit still as well. At least it means there is always something to look forward to.

No comments:

Post a Comment