It has been a busy couple of days. Apologies for the lack of updates but Wi-Fi in outback Arizona’s Navajo country was patchy at best.
We set out Monday morning from Flagstaff AZ to Monument Valley. On the way we stopped at a Trading Post selling Navajo gifts, Stetson Hats and various Americana and a town with an WWII Indian Windtalker museum inside a Burger King (Hungry Jacks’s) – classy.
Our guides included a surprise stop on the road to Monument Valley at a spot made famous by the film Forrest Gump, a perfect opportunity for a photo op.
We then entered Monument Valley where we got amazing views of the Buttes (pronounced Beaut) and Mesas made famous by Film and Television for over a century. We were taken on an extensive tour of the valley in an open-topped Ute by a Navajo guide – Willie – who told us about the Navajo people: their history, culture and connection to this sacred area, before stopping for some delicious Navajo tacos. The only thing better than the food was the views as we sat out on the Valley floor between the East and West ‘Mittens’ (Buttes).
As the sun set we headed for our accommodation in Tuba City UT.
The following morning we drove into Zion National Park in Utah, Mormon country. The views out the bus window were amazing as we neared the park, particularly after we emerged from the 1.1 mile tunnel on the way into the park.
The group split up, some doing a river walk along ‘The Narrows’, while others heading off on the ‘Angel’s Landing’ hike. The Angel’s hike (8km, 420m vertical) was not as long/high as the South Kaibab trail we hiked in The Grand Canyon (9.6km, 620m vertical), however, the last mile included a technical traverse where hikers climbed up/along a narrow ridge with 2000+ foot drop-offs on either side. In some sections hikers were aided by chains, while others left hikers with just their wits to reach the top off the bluff. It was definitely worth the effort, with the views at the top amazing as we were joined by some of the locals.
It has been interesting to watch the changing scenery and variety of landscape over the last few days, visiting The Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Zion. While The Grand Canyon was amazing, it was almost too big to get an accurate sense of size and scale. My favourite was probably Zion, as you were up close with the sheer rock faces dotted with trees growing out of the cracks in the rock.
Our next stop will have a different kind of scenery as we head for the desert of Nevada, bound for Sin City – Las Vegas.