Grand Junction, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

Discussion in 'West, Alaska and Hawaii' started by Rasputin, Nov 17, 2019.

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  1. Nov 17, 2019 #1

    Rasputin

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    Rasputin

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    We are planning a trip on Zephyr to Grand Junction in early May. We will stay at Grand Junction for a couple days and then drive to Moab, Utah and visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and then on to Monument Valley. We have been on the Zephyr before and we have been to Monument Valley before (about 17 years ago before the hotel was built there) but the rest is new territory for us. We will probably want to go on a tour at Monument Valley as we did during our prior trip but I imagine the tour operators have changed (and I can't recall who gave us the tour the last time). Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
     
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  2. Nov 18, 2019 #2

    Palmland

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    We visited Arches/Canyonlands about 10 years ago and were camping - a great way to get an early morning start for good light to help with photos. But, last month we visited again Monument Valley. I think the hotel you mention is ‘The View’ because of its fantastic location overlooking the valley (Navajo operated, it’s their land). However it is quite expensive and hard to get a reservation.

    But on our trip we stayed at the historic Gouldings Lodge. Historic because it was the base camp for all the great John Wayne/John Ford westerns such as Stagecoach (1939) and The Searchers. Lots of memorabilia from then and nightly showing of the classics. New, modern motel rooms have been added. It also overlooks the valley but several miles away. Good restaurant too.

    We decided to do our own sunrise tour on the 17 mile loop road. It’s a rough road but certainly doable and allowed us to stop as we wished for photos. I believe the local Navajo sunrise tours are around $80 pp. I would book it from either hotel rather than an outfit outside the valley.

    From our hotel-

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    Early morning in the valley


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  3. Nov 20, 2019 #3

    dogbert617

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    Those pics look amazing! And on a side note, my brother and his wife a year or 2 ago did a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park(near Estes Park, CO), traveled along I-70(and the CA Zephyr corridor) in western Colorado, eastern Utah(went to Arches National Park and also Canyonlands National Park, and of course stopped in Moab), Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado, and saw some ghost town in western Colorado among all the stops they did in Colorado and Utah on that trip. I loved all the pics, they showed me of that trip.
     
  4. Nov 20, 2019 #4

    anumberone

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    I sure liked the photos. Is there a lot of area to explore in that valley or is it posted off limits?
     
  5. Nov 20, 2019 #5

    Qapla

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    It has been so long since I have been to that area that my insights would not be current as to how things operate ... that said, I have camped in Zion Canyon. We saw sunrise in Arches and did some hiking after taking pictures of the sunrise in the arches. We then drove to Zion and saw sunset there the same day before setting up the tent for the night.

    The sights are spectacular!

    One place many miss is the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado - they are really impressive.

    As for seeing some of the "backcountry" in Colorado ... that was simple for me, my Dad was from southern Colorado so I was able to be "in the middle of nowhere" with aunts and uncles to see many "ghost" areas and many off-the-beaten-path places.

    A side point ... Ken Curtis, who played Festus Haggen on Gunsmoke, was born in Lamar, CO - there is a stop there on the SWC in the southeast part of the state ... of course the train does get there around 6:30 AM westbound (if it is on time) but the trip through that part of Colorado is in the daytime. Sadly, it appears the same cannot be said of the eastbound trip.
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  6. Nov 20, 2019 #6

    Rasputin

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    Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park. As I recall there is a gate fee which allows visitors to enter a limited part of the Park and drive through a portion. The rest of the Park is off limits unless you pay to go on a tour with a Navajo guide. There are a number of people who are approved by the Tribal government to provide this guide service. We went on one of these tours in 2002 (five people on our tour) and it was well worth it and hope to do so again. Be aware that sometimes there is a lot of blowing sand in the area.

    You should be able to find more information by searching Monument Valley, The View Hotel or Gouldings Lodge online.
     
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  7. Nov 21, 2019 #7

    Qapla

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    Keep in mind that the area you will be in is very near "Four Corners" ...
     
  8. Nov 22, 2019 #8

    Rasputin

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    Four Corners is another Navajo Tribal Park as I recall. We visited it in 2002 when we also visited Monument Valley. However unlike Monument Valley which seemed to be well run, Four Corners was not well run and I do not recommend it. There is an admission fee and some unattractive booths where tribal members sell jewelry and crafts. There is a monument marking the location of the four corners and our kids enjoyed being able to have their hands and feet in four states at once. (I have seen some articles indicating that the monument is not in the correct location and the real four corners is a ways off.) Unfortunately one of my most vivid memories of the place was that all of the porta-potties were overflowing and had evidently not been emptied for weeks. I hope the place has improved since that time but I presently have no desire to go back there.

    On the other hand the trading post at Teec Nos Pos a few miles to the south was a great place to visit. A nice selection of quality Navajo jewelry and an impressive selection of Navajo rugs. Cortez, Colorado and Mesa Verde to the north were also great places.
     
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