Area Spotlight: Monument Valley, Utah

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Have you ever seen a Western movie? If you answered yes, chances are you have seen Monument Valley. Over 100 movies have been filmed there with one of the most recent being the remake of The Lone Ranger. Known for it’s beauty, it is easy to see why so many film makers choose the valley for filming. The Butte’s, tall sandstone structures, stretch high into the sky from the valley floor and can be seen from miles away. Located on native tribal land, most of the park is hard to get to or you need permits and tour guides to do, but in the heart of the valley and the most scenic part, is a dirt road that most vehicles can do. This road will take you through a good portion of Monument Valley, but if you want to hike or anything else on the trails you will need a permit. Camping is just as difficult as there are only two camp grounds within the park and depending on the time of year you want to go, booking in advance is essential. However, if you are not afraid of roughing it, about 30 minutes away is Valley of the Gods, which is BLM land that allows for free primitive camping.I got a late start to our trip out to Monument Valley, about a 3 hour drive from Durango, Colorado, but I felt like I was still going to be there for sunset. As we started getting closer I quickly realized I wasn’t going to make it. Just outside of Monument Valley though there is the Valley of the Gods, similar in geography to Monument Valley and about 30 minutes from it, I had found a great place to stop and do sunset pictures. Little did I know, this would be one of the only days of the weekend that the weather would cooperate for me. On a positive note, it didn’t start the weekend of raining till I got my tent set up.So while I was lucky enough to have shelter before the rain, taking some pictures and doing justice to the area was something the rain was keeping from me. So I explored the area had some breakfast and was hoping that by the afternoon I would get a break in the weather. For a brief moment the rain subsided, and I decided to take a hike close to the campground to Hidden Arch. After a brief 15 minute hike up to the arch, I noticed a break in the clouds and started hoping for some great photos at sundown, but while I was able to get some great photos of Hidden Arch the rain and clouds quickly came back and my rain soaked weekend continued. Even though the rain came back, I kept the hope alive for my final day and was finally rewarded with some early morning partly cloudy skies.Monument Valley is exactly as the name implies, monumental! The iconic scenery, the beauty, and most importantly the history are what make this place a must see on any travelers list. But this land is protected, which is why permits for just about anything you want to do are necessary. The protection by the Navajo people is also necessary and one of the reason this highly popular destination will remain beautiful and iconic for many years to come.

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