The Drive from Grand Canyon to Monument Valley

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 ahead of us and need the afternoon to spend time in Monument Valley! So onward we go!


 

Around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon it’s pretty vegetative as I remarked on the trip there from Williams, AZ. Lots of trees and green shrubbery which continues for quite a while till you get out past the canyon area.

 

The view after leaving the main South Rim, forested area.

 

Low lying mountains and scrub brush. Some small houses here and there.

 

There were some hills and twists and turns in the road too.

 

You were able to see the edge of the canyon of the Little Colorado River which was pretty cool!

 

Road Stops

As we were driving 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 -which is what most of the road stands are made out of on the Native American lands. We were on the Navajo Reservation now, and you could definitely tell the difference by the ramshackle huts and buildings made of base plyboards. 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.

 

The view from one of the road side stops.

 

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.

 

Signage and Navajo shops. This is the view looking back towards the road.

 

A newer bridge and paved road crossing the river in Cameron.

 

At first I thought these were big piles of small gravel rocks, but then I saw this fence built up on them! I’m not sure what they’re made out of but they must be pretty hard rock.

 

Right turn up ahead to go towards Monument Valley! Staying straight will take you to Page.

 

Some of the formations and colors of the Painted Desert we were passing through.

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. If you really want to take it in and go on some trails, the Petrified Forest National Park is probably the way to go.

 

Passing through Tuba City.

 

Tuba City

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.

 

Looks like a water reservoir?

 

We also passed by horses grazing in the fields, along with some cattle here and there.

 

Old metal windmills dotted the desert as well.

 

Not sure what this was either. The pipeline was very long and crossed the road over a bridge made for it, through the mountains on the other side.

 

 

First signs of the monuments in the distance!

 

I think they need a new sign 🙂 This was when we entered Kayenta, the town just south of Monument Valley.

 

Kayenta

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.

 

 

Houses in Kayenta

 

Here come the monuments!

 

 

A sign for Goulding’s Lodge, where a lot of John Wayne movies were filmed. The place is worth a visit!

 

My first time in Utah! Just look at all the stickers on that sign.

 

And we’re here! In Monument Valley.

 

If you like these pictures and want to see more, I posted the full lot of them in my Flickr Gallery!

26 Comments

    1. You’re welcome! Yeah there’s always things to do or stop and see inbetween different places, you just gotta know where to look! 🙂

  1. The scenery looks very interesting! I love how Painted Desert were in different shades of red against the patches of green and yellow on the ground. $15 for a small bag of jerky is pretty hefty! Ouch. But it was nice that you tried to support the local business by purchasing a necklace.

    1. Yeah they actually make a lot of beautiful hand crafted items! I actually wish I bought a bit more. The jewelry is all so pretty, and a lot of them also do paintings, dream catchers, and other decorative items.

  2. Your photos look very retro, I love the look and feel of it – captured the place really well. I was getting quite excited when I was reading the part about Little Colorado River Gorge, too bad that you didn’t have enough time to explore it. The dinosaur tracks sound interesting too! Thanks for the tip, I think if I ever do this drive – I’d make sure that I’ll have a lot of time to explore. :p

    1. Thank you Noemi! And yes you do need a lot of time. We just hit the major points of a 2 week road trip out west, but there is literally SO MUCH more to see and explore. We could do the whole trip again and see new things!

  3. Thanks for sharing. I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon but just haven’t gotten there yet. Also, the pictures of the painted desert look amazing. I give you credit for driving though. I go a little stir crazy sittingin the car but looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, the drive was actually a lot of fun and not bad all simply because the landscape was so different and varied from what I’m used to! There was always something new or interesting to look at, not boring at all! I know I thought me or my husband(who was driving the whole time) would be bored because the drives in between the places out west are like 3+ hours depending, so it’s a lot of driving…but we had a great time 🙂

  4. I love a good road trip and the USA is perfect for it; except that driving on the wrong side of the road takes a bit of getting used to so The Hubs usually does most of the driving. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon a couple of times but never made it as far as Utah. I’m sure I would have bought all the jewellery in the roadside stand but you can keep the jerky! I guess it is an acquired taste

    1. Ah I’d feel the same way about driving if I went to a country where they drove on the left! I’m sure it takes a lot of getting used to–yet I always wanted to try it! 😀 Jerky is pretty tasty, and different kinds of meat taste differently too, also the seasonings will change the taste so if you’ve had one and didn’t care for it it might be worth trying another kind.

  5. Okay, so the picture which you captioned “At first I thought these were big piles of small gravel rocks, but then I saw this fence built up on them! I’m not sure what they’re made out of but they must be pretty hard rock” I misread as “saw this face built up on them” and spent waaaay too long trying to see a face in the mountains. Verdict: there is no face!
    You have some spectacular pictures here! It’s not often you read about places beyond the Grand Canyon, and I particularly love your shots of the Painted Desert!

    1. Road trips are a lot of fun! But you do have to go with someone who doesn’t mind driving, or if you yourself like to. Thankfully my husband doesn’t mind driving so he drove while I took pictures out of the window the whole time, so I got lucky with him!

  6. You really captured the enjoyment of a road trip in the US. For me your best picture was the one of the painted desert as you passed through. It’s good you support the local people whilst traveling through their territories, I guess you got a pretty unique souvenir too.

    1. Thank you! It’s funny a lot of people mentioned that picture and I almost didn’t include it. I gotta stop second guessing myself lol.

    1. I can’t wait to go to Yosemite and Death Valley! There are so many interesting parks out west it’s incredible. The word jerky doesn’t mean bag, it’s a term for dried, smoked meat(it can be made of any kind of meat really so there’s different types). It’s pretty good, some people love it, definitely worth a try!

  7. I love the map feature at the beginning. I’m going to keep that in mind for my future blog posts…
    The jewelry huts are what I remember most about driving to the Grand Canyon. I didn’t buy any then, but I wish I had! Next time I will!

    1. Yeah I love maps so always like to include them on a post whenever applicable 🙂 I actually wish I bought more jewelry myself lol…just one small necklace, there were SO many!

  8. Loved your photos! I’ve driven that road from Page, Kayena, Monument Valley a bunch and my head is still on a swivel looking at stuff when I go through. The tall building with the conveyor that crosses the road is thecoal conveyor for Black Mesa Coal, which straddles both Hopi and Navajo land (and which I think is closing along with the generation station in Page). If you ever read “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abbey it’s mentioned. The first volcanic plug you posted is called Agathla Peak (Aghaałą́ in Navajo) and was called El Capitan by the Spanish. I love seeing it on the horizon as I’m approaching the Utah border.

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked the photos! And thanks so much for input on the different sites! There’s so much to see and so much to find out about on these trips it’s crazy. So that’s a coal conveyor…we had a bunch of guesses as to what it was but didn’t think of that!

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