If you’ve seen almost any popular movies in the last 50 years, you’ve almost certainly seen Monument Valley. It’s that gorgeous area with towering rock formations that makes such picturesque a backdrop. It’s where Forrest Gump finally stopped running, where Marty McFly & Doc Brown ended up in Back to the Future III and where John Ford set many of his westerns in the 1940’s. It’s even featured in some animated films such as Cars and An American Tail: Feivel goes West! So we were very excited to add this stop to our trip.
It was a short 3 hour drive from Moab, and we had pre-booked a stay at a full service RV park because we figured we’d want to have “unlimited” water and electricity after a week of boondocking in Moab, plus we would need to dump our tanks. We should have known something was up when we pulled into the park and there were only 2 other RVs in the whole place!!
Turns out that Monument Valley Tribal Park is on Navajo land and the Tribal Council, at the urging of their Public Health Department has made the decision not to re-open any of the monuments and parks. As a matter of fact, they still had a curfew on their people until very recently. Schools have been closed for a year, and unlike in our neck of the woods, many of the families who live on the reservation are without running water or electricity. They drive into “town” with huge water tanks in the back of their trucks that they refill at the city supply every few days, and use generators for electricity. Many also don’t have access to reliable internet, so online schooling is not possible. Really makes you grateful for the things you have, doesn’t it?
So, although we had planned to stay there 4 days so we could really take everything in, we ended up just staying for 2 nights; long enough to do some laundry, recharge our batteries (figuratively and literally!) and meet a few local folks.
One local we met was Dennis, a Navajo guide who took us on a tour of the local area that did not include any tribal land, but that gave us some great history and explained something of the culture. He took us to the site of some ruins in the local rocks and showed us some of the iconic monument formations from a distance. We even got to go into a “hogan,” or Native American dwelling. It was kind of incongruous to see a structure built entirely of logs, with no windows, but with air conditioning! He said he has one at home with a big screen TV on the wall! It was very interesting to hear his perspective on how the Tribal Council has tried to balance their response to the COVID crisis for their people.
We left early to head to Page, Arizona, and Lake Powell. There is so much to see in that area, we wanted to really spend a few days. We had a very windy drive again and were glad it was only a couple of hours’ drive! We had booked a site at Wahweap RV park right on the lake, but since we were coming in a day early, we found a camping spot on public land across from the entrance and spent a VERY WINDY night there. We were so thankful for our RV, and propane heat, let me tell you! We could hear that one of our slide toppers had ripped during all of that wind, so we ended up pulling our slides in, which made it a bit squishy, but we didn’t care. One couple was there in a tent, and at one point they finally gave up and I think they just slept in their car.
Once we had settled into the RV park, we put out the slides to assess the damage. Sure enough, the bedroom slide topper had ripped completely off. That gave us a great excuse to head for WalMart to buy awning tape! (It’s kind of a camping tradition of ours to check out Wal-Mart in new towns, probably because we never had one locally when we were camping as our kids were growing up, so it felt like SUCH a novelty!) If you don’t know, they tend to have a pretty robust camping equipment section and sure enough, they had awning tape.
Here’s a time lapse video of us up on the roof fixing the awning. I was so proud of myself for being able to help because David can fix anything, but I tend to be all thumbs! (I also tend toward a fear of heights, so this was a huge accomplishment for me!)
Once we got that sorted out we explored the area. Our campground was absolutely beautiful as was Lake Powell. Sadly, the one thing we had really wanted to do was also on Native American land, so it was closed. Antelope Canyon is a “slot canyon” that has super narrow sides and almost closes at the top. The colors and lighting inside make for spectacular views. Never fear, though, the lower part of it is available from the water, so you can kayak in and hike partway up. We got out our trusty inflatable kayak and inflated it so that we could make sure it was lake-worthy in preparation for heading out the next day.
Then off we went to do the short hike to Horseshoe Bend. It really is a lovely, easy hike that Pongo enjoyed immensely. Unfortunately they do not have any trash receptacles on the trail or at the end of it, so when he decided to make a “deposit” about 1/4 of the way up the trail, we had to pack it in and pack it out! Oh, the joys of having a dog! Good thing he’s so darned adorable, isn’t it?
We stopped for some yummy Mexican food and then went back to the campsite so David could do some work (I promise, he’s working every day!!) I, on the other hand, and living the life of Riley and pretty much just lounged all afternoon. We decided to break out the bike leash and give it a try, and I have to say , he did a pretty good job, but we learned quickly that we need to use a shorter leash to keep him from crossing in front of the bike!
So, as fate would have it, the next day it was supposed to snow again, so we had to abandon the plan to kayak into Antelope Canyon. We were pretty disappointed, but in the end, we realized it just gave us a great excuse to come back to Lake Powell. There are so many fabulous hikes and kayak trips we want to do when it’s a bit warmer! This is QUICKLY becoming a theme for us pretty much everywhere we’ve gone: “We’ll be back!” I’ll leave you with a few last photos so you can see why.
Up next: Things get REAL!