Anyone who has seen any old John Ford western like Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine or Fort Apache will recognize Monument Valley right away. Probably no place in the west is as much an iconic symbol of the cowboy and Indian, the desperado and the westward expansion. It is also a sacred place for the Navajo people on whose land the valley lies. Today the valley is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park and is an absolutely spectacular place to visit.
We stayed in the Navajo-run campground right in the middle of the valley and had views of the sunsets and sunrises on the famous "mitten" buttes every day. We also drove the scenic loop and hiked the few trails open to visitors. I think it is safe to say that this valley is photogenic from just about every angle and vantage point and in almost any light. So I took lots of pictures and have a gallery up on Google+ with the best ones:
We also took a Navajo tour of a nearby area called Mystery Valley. Here there are many ruins and artifacts from what the Navajo call the Anasazi, also called the ancestral Puebloan people, of whom the current-day Hopi, Zuni and many others are descendants. Our guide, Don, was a wonderful and wise man who drove us around the valley and took us to ruins and arches and petroglyph sites and finally to the best sunset-viewing spot in the area. At one point he mentioned my arrowhead necklace and talked about learning the various sacred songs as a boy and then he sang us the arrowhead song while we sat in a rock alcove by some ancient ruins. Very moving! He also told us of his travels to Russia, where he was invited due to his work in keeping the Navajo language alive with the youth, and meeting people in Siberia who wanted to keep their language alive. He recalled thinking that one of the women looked like his aunt, and as he learned more, found that many words in their language were similar to Navajo words and their beadwork was similar to Apache beadwork. These people were likely remote relatives, all Athabascan people, from the time before the Navajo ancestors had crossed the Bering Sea! Needless to say, this tour was the highlight of our stay in Monument Valley. Enjoy the pictures and do look at my full gallery on Google+.