I think this is the trip that made me feel like a professional photographer. Till date I was clicking pictures only to keep them as memories but after visiting this place, I started liking photography in the real sense. I wanted to make my pictures look as stunning as the landscape looked in reality.
Last Dec, we took a morning flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix and from there rented a car to drive through Utah. It was a long 5 ½ hrs. drive to reach the magnificent Monument Valley. At first the drive through the long stretch of barren land was boring but as we neared the valley the landscape became more attractive. It is here that I got the real experience of being in the wild Wild West in the true sense.
The backdrop of many a Hollywood movie, Monument valley is located in the northern border of Arizona, close to the Four Corners region, along highway 163. The valley is marked by a group of iconic and huge sandstone buttes, spires, and monoliths that creates a mesmerizing spectacle.
The drive itself became astounding as we approached our hotel ‘View’ true to its name. The long road stretching towards the red cliffs was awesome in its own way. It was nearly dark when we reached the hotel and we got some stunning sunset pictures.
The view from our room was fantastic.
Early next morning we woke up for some early morning shots. It was pretty cold outside with slight snow fall but we were too excited to feel the cold. There were very few people waiting for sunrise pictures. A tour guide approached us to know if we would like to book one for the valley drive but we preferred to drive on our own. After taking a couple of sunrise pictures we headed down the valley.
The 17 miles drive through the rocky, bumpy and muddy road cannot be described in words. We stopped in between along the overlooks and viewpoints to take our pictures and also to enjoy the beautiful colorful sandstone rock formations.
The little snow scattered here and there added to the beauty to the whole scene. There are 11 main stops in the loop and the drive takes almost 2 hrs as the speed limit is 15mph. the road is so bumpy that at times the speed is even less than that.
There are also some ancient cave and cliff dwellings, natural arches and petroglyphs at isolated locations and can be viewed only as part of guided tours. Luckily that day there was less traffic in the area and we could drive at our own pace.
The experience through the valley cannot be expressed in words. It was as if we were travelling in some outer planet.
The main points are:
1. The Mittens and Merrick Butte
2. Elephant Butte
3. Three Sisters
4. John Ford’s Point
5. Camel Butte
6. The Hub
7. Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei
8. Totem Pole and Sand Spring
9. Artist’s Point
10. North Window
11. The Thumb
There’s no doubt about it, no tour of the American West is complete without a visit to Monument Valley.
Clicking through the area non stop, I felt like I could go on for ever.