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Monument Valley


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#1 kcowyo

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 07:14 PM

Getting caught up on some previous trips. This one should be on everyone's "to-do list."

Over the long Labor Day weekend, I hooked up with a good friend from Arizona and we did some exploring in southern Utah. The goal was to visit Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods and Natural Bridges National Monument. These 3 areas are all in close proximity in southeast Utah and made for a great adventure.

We set up camp in the desolate Goosenecks State Park overlooking the San Juan River. With incredible scenic vistas and nary a tree in sight, Goosenecks SP is a great place to homebase while in the area. The weather in late August - early September, is excellent. Shorts during the days, long sleeves in the evenings. You have to bring in your own firewood and ice cream as we couldn't find either nearby during our time there.

First a proper introduction to my travelling companions. Mark D. Stephens is an extremely talented writer, photographer and beer drinker. He is also one of the funniest people I've ever met. The perfect trail comrade. He brought his wife Brooke and their highly modified 2005 Nissan Frontier. Mark has equipped his truck with an Ezi-Awn roof top tent, hot shower system, trail armor, Engel fridge, 2M radio and whole bunch of other goodies. His journeys primarily take him into Mexico and the Sonoran Desert but Utah hooked him and I'm sure he'll be back soon.

We declined the $200 guide fee in Monument Valley and did the tour ourselves. MV is easy to get around and the scenery is unreal. Several views are familiar to those who have watched old Hollywood westerns. Late in the day we were assaulted by high winds that whipped up a ferocious sandstorm. Monument Valley was worth the long drive to the middle of nowhere.


The general area -
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The vehicles -
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Getting there -
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We're there -
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#2 kcowyo

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 07:22 PM

.....more pics from Monument Valley -


The Totem Poles -
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Finding our way - *photo by Mark D. Stephens
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Backcountry trail in MV - *photo by Mark D. Stephens
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The Mittens -
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#3 kcowyo

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 07:30 PM

....and the rest from Monument Valley -


Wind & Sand storm -
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Wind & Sand storm - *photo by Mark D. Stephens
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Stunning contrasts -
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Sunset in Monument Valley -
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#4 kcowyo

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 07:48 PM

We found Goosenecks State Park by accident. Our original plan was to camp in Valley of the Gods. We turned into Goosenecks SP just for a peak, but it was immediately apparent that this is where we should camp. Warm, breezy, quiet and scenic. Perfect. We picked a spot on a high cliff overlooking the river.


Sunrise at Goosenecks SP -
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Scenic overlook of the San Juan River -
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Camping on the edge -
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A great morning at Goosenecks SP -
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#5 kcowyo

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 08:19 PM

Natural Bridges National Monument is a nice, small park. Easy to get to, easy to get around. It features 3 natural bridges for viewing from a scenic high point or you can hike to the bottom. We chose to hike to the bottom of Kachina Bridge for some photos and to see the petroglyphs. The visitors center had some excellent exhibits explaing how a natural bridge forms over thousands of years.

From Goosenecks SP, we first had to ascend the Mokee Dugway. The road climbs (or descends) over 1,000 feet in 2 miles with a 10% grade. Tight switchbacks and gravel make for a challenging but fun drive. Certainly nothing I would want to do in a large RV.


The beloved Mokee Dugway sign at the top of the road -
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Under the Kachina Bridge -
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At the base of Kachina Bridge -
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Kachina Bridge -
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#6 chnlisle

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 08:24 PM

Absolutely fantastic!!! We love Mokee Dugway but pam has to have a hood to do the climb. Have you done the float trip from Bluff to Mexican Hat? The one day trip is really worth doing?
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#7 SunMan

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 08:27 PM

Wow. Speechless. Gotta get there.
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#8 kcowyo

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 08:38 PM

Following our trip to Natural Bridges, we wrapped our trip with a visit to Valley of the Gods. Similar to Monument Valley, VOG is a 17 mile dirt rough track through red mesas and ancient rock spirals. I don't know what it was, but the feeling I had driving through here, climbing over the rocks and peeking into the canyons was magical, almost spiritual. Here I felt on sacred ground. The Navajos know what they're talking about.


Following Mark in -
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The Pinnacles -
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The Heart of southeastern Utah -
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Can you spot the Four Wheel Camper? -
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#9 kcowyo

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 08:52 PM

....the last set from an amazing trip. Hope to go back someday....


Marcello the Bull Skull -
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Last look, Monument Valley -
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Mark's impressive Nissan Frontier -
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The adventurers - *photo by Mark D. Stephens
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#10 Tomas Tierra

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:51 PM

My goodness KCO, that is insane!! Were there filters used in any of the photography???

This report gives me more reasons to get out and about in our great country! Baja is officially on the back burner (for now)..
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