Monument Valley is the setting for many films including Mission Impossible, Forrest Gump and The Lone Ranger, this is one of the reasons why I was so excited to see it. There was even a point based on John Wayne for his movies! I could say this about so many parts of my trip to the states but it really was one of my favourite places and one of the best experiences I have ever had! If you get the chance to stay in overnight you should definitely take it, you learn so much about the culture and you get the experience of living like a Native American.
You have two options when visiting the tribal park; you can either pay an access fee and drive around the trail yourself or do what we did and take a guided tour which gives you a much better experience as you get told stories along the way and you get to see parts of the park that are only accessible by guided tour. You also get to ride in a Jeep which you have got to admit is much more fun than in the back of a car although it is a very bumpy ride!
On the tour you stop at certain points around the park, some of which are just for photo opportunities (trying to get a good shot of everyone jumping at the same time took a while but we got there in the end) and others have a story to them. We were told what made each point so special and where we might have seen it before. I remember us being told about shape shifters appearing at night although I wasn’t entirely sure if this was true or just to scare us because we were staying in overnight.
Our guide took us to a point called ‘Eye of the Sun and got us to lay against the wall and look up through a hole where the sun comes through, hence the name. While we were there he got his instruments and started singing a traditional song in the Navajo language which was quite entertaining.
Our guide kept pointing out certain rocks (they all have names, some quite amusing) and asking us what we thought they looked like but they only become obvious once you know what they are. We were taken right into the valley and stopped in the middle of nowhere at what seemed to be some sort of campsite where there were just huge rock formations surrounding us. The Navajos cooked us some tacos (their own special recipe) and even gave us a show!
We were all warned before we went in that we would be going back to basics and that we would have no facilities all night. They weren’t kidding, there was nothing, nothing at all. No toilet, no shower, no lights or running water, nothing but it showed you how Native Americans used to live, some still do. We stayed in a Hogan (a traditional Navajo hut) where there was nothing but a hole in the roof and a fire in the middle with enough room for 10 people to lie sleeping bags around. Sitting around the fire listening to stories about this incredible place under sky full of shooting stars is not a bad way to spend the night.
Our guide came to collect us at 5:00am and took us to the ‘Totem Poles’ which is one of the most photographed points in the park and we all sat and watched the sunrise which was definitely worth getting up early for! I was pleased to see a bathroom afterwards but it really was an incredible, once in a lifetime experience.