It was a leisurely 98 mile drive down to Monument Valley Friday. We had the usual grades up and down and more great scenery. We are staying at Goulding's RV Camp Park which is just outside the Navajo Tribal Park. We have 50 amp full hookups with good WiFi until the campground fills up at night. Amazingly, most of the sites empty every day and then fill up again that evening. We spent the rest of the day Friday getting our tour tickets for Saturday and watching the Lady Gators get kicked to the loser's bracket at the Women's College World Series (WCWS).
First thing Saturday morning we went on a four hour tour of Monument Valley. Our guide was a Navajo and he was very good at filling us in on the history of the valley as well as the Navajo people in the area. Monument Valley is on the Navajo reservation straddling the Utah/Arizona line. This area was on the Ute reservation until the early 20th century when the Utes moved to Colorado. For a brief period of time the land was public land and that was when the Gouldings bought one square mile and started helping the Navajos in the area and also developing a tourist trade. Later they were able to convince the director John Ford to come and consider the area for his movie locales. The rest is history. Shortly after the Gouldings bought their land, the area (with the exception of the Goulding land) was added to the Navajo reservation in Arizona.
The tour also took us in some parts of the park that are no longer public and require a tour to get to. This was where we found the arches and also the petroglyphs. The main valley road is open to the pubic but is a very rough ride and though they say all cars can use it, most turn around after about a quarter mile. We took Libby on it so we could get some afternoon pictures and she had a great time though we felt a little jostled afterwards. We then came back and watched the Lady Gators stay alive WCWS by beating California.
Sunday we headed for the Valley of the Gods. This is a smaller version of Monument Valley on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. It is a 17 mile drive on gravel roads which were in very good shape except for a few places. Though we encountered three or four vehicles, it gets very little traffic compared to Monument Valley. Since it is BLM land, you are allowed to hike about anywhere you want and dispersed camping is available throughout the drive. Neither of these are available on Navajo land. It's not quite as scenic as Monument Valley but may be preferred due to the lesser crowds.
On the way back to the campground we stopped at Gooseneck's State Park to view this amazing piece of geography created by the San Juan River. Over a distance of one and a half miles, the San Juan River flows for more than six miles through the twists of the entrenched meander
. After returning to the Mothership, we watched our Lady Gators still stay alive by stomping Alabama in the WCWS. Now all they have to do is beat them again tonight to get to the finals tomorrow.