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Today was the end of an awesome 2 days spent at the Grand Canyon. I didn’t want to leave, and wished we had at least one more day to check out a couple overlooks we missed, stroll along the rim trail, maybe check out the art gallery again, and just sit, relax, and absorb the view. But that’ll have to wait till next time. We’ve got a 3 hour drive from the Grand Canyon to Monument valley ahead of us!
Route 64 Desert View Drive
As you drive around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you’ll notice it’s pretty vegetative as I remarked on the trip there from Las Vegas. Lots of trees and green shrubbery which continues for quite a while till you get out past the canyon area.
Road Side Navajo Shops
As we were driving along route 64, we saw a small road side stand, or shop, and pulled over to check it out. Big signs of “Jerky” were written in paint on wooden boards. We were on the Navajo Reservation now, and you could definitely tell the difference by the ramshackle huts and buildings made of base ply boards. These people are poor, and do not have the best land to cultivate and live on. Yet still they do what they can with it to get by.
We got out of the car and a middle aged lady in a bright turquoise shirt greeted us with a hello. She seemed to be the only one there. There were rows upon rows of hand made jewelry on tables outside with a wooden awning covering. The more expensive things were inside the small building to the left. “You have jerky?” I asked. “Yes, inside. $15 per bag.” Ouch. Jerky is expensive no matter where you go, and the bags are small!
We browsed around for a bit and I picked out a necklace with pretty colored beads and paid the lady. She didn’t say too much, so we took a couple pictures of the view then left.
Little Colorado River Gorge
Just a little farther down the road we saw some other wooden shops with people pulling in and out and what looked to be an even better view of the canyon we were seeing. So we pulled in there to check it out. More arts and crafts that the natives were selling were spread out on tables. This time a friendlier “Hello” from one of the shop keepers sitting down in the shade of the structure.
There were some signs here, and a trail leading to the edge of the canyon, or as we found out it was called, “Little Colorado River Gorge”. Ah, so this wasn’t directly a part of the Grand Canyon, but a smaller river that feeds into it. We walked for a bit on the trail, but as we quickly noticed it was turning out to be a much greater distance than it first appeared, and it was quite hot out with the sun beating down. We didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend as we still had quite a drive ahead of us, so unfortunately we didn’t check it out more than that. Maybe next time!
*Note that the Little Colorado River Gorge Tribal Park is actually an area comprised of a few places owned by the Navajo. Some pull offs charge a entry fee, this one we went to was free however.
The Painted Desert
If you drive around this area you’ll see beautiful colors that give the Painted Desert it’s name. It extends from around Cameron and Tuba City in the east down to the Petrified Forest National Park.
Some little interesting facts on Tuba City:
- It’s the biggest city population wise of the Navajo Nation.
- It’s named after Tuuvi, a Hopi leader that converted to Mormanism
- The city itself was founded by Mormons in 1872
- It’s Navajo name, Tó Naneesdizí, means Tangled waters which probably refers to the underground springs of water which give the city life.
- There are Dinosaur tracks nearby! If we had more time I’d totally want to go see these!
- Coal Mine Canyon and Hahonogeh Canyon are 2 other places to check out nearby if you have time.
There’s also the Tuuvi Travel Center located in town which can help you further explore the area.
Also check out this book: Native Roads: The Complete Motoring Guide to the Navajo and Hopi Nations. It goes in detail about lots of places in this area of Arizona and Utah.
The small town about 20 miles south of Monument Valley, Kayenta, has a few places to stay at overnight if you can’t find a room right in Monument Valley. They’re cheaper too, and there are some places to eat at, including a McDonald’s.
Monument Valley was such a cool place to see and stay in. Click here for a list of popular things to see and do there!
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