Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Monumental Splendor in Monument Valley

Another of the USA's great National Parks is Monument Valley in Utah. Meaning 'Valley of the Rocks' in Navajo, Monument Valley is characterised by a number of sandstone buttes, the largest being around 1000ft. Lying within the range of a Navajo Reservation, it is located on the Arizona-Utah State line.

The valley is a shimmering red colour which is made up of exposed iron oxide and the darker rocks get their colour from manganese oxide. The sandstone buttes are isolated hills with steep sides and a flat top. The word 'butte' comes from a French word meaning 'small hill.' They are usually formed by erosion when hard rock covers a layer of softer rock that is eventually worn away. The buttes are magnificent to view at any time of the day and night.

 There are so many unique views around the valley and one of the best ways to explore is by taking a guided Navajo jeep tour. This is Navajo land and has been for many many years so who best to give a guided tour than the valleys native people? It was enchanting visiting the fascinating rock formations as our Navajo guide played panpipes in the background.

It was very very cold when I visited in a January and there was snow on the ground but there was a magical aura about Monument Valley that really drew me in. That night, I had the great privilege of staying in a traditional Navajo 'hogan' right in the heart of the valley. A hogan is a traditional Navajo home and is usually round or cone-shaped. It is made of wood and packed earth and mud and the doors traditionally face east to welcome the rising sun for good wealth and fortune. There is a fireplace in the centre of the hogan which keeps it lovely and cosy inside!

We were treated to a traditional Navajo meal, a campfire and traditional Navajo dancing where we were all invited to join in. It was surreal to be spending the night surrounded by sandstone buttes with Navajo Indians and an experience I will treasure forever.

I came to Monument Valley staight after visiting the Grand Canyon and although very different, both were majestic in all their splendor and a fine representation of the USA's Great National Parks. I would urge anyone to visit.

1 comment:

  1. I so agree with you. We had a trip last year and I can say a local Navajo guide makes the trip all more better. And I have exactly similar photos of their local dancing.