By the time we arrived in Monument Valley it was late afternoon and the winds had picked up considerably. As we drove along US 163 toward Utah, gusts of wind blew sheets of sand across the road. We knew we were in for an interesting visit to Monument Valley.
We crossed into Utah, then back into Arizona, arriving first at the Visitor Center. We went in and I bought some postcards and an ornament. The view from the Visitor Center is stunning in itself, but the repeated gusts of wind made it difficult to enjoy. You can see how windy it was in my photograph!
Since it was late afternoon we set off to do the scenic drive, a 17 mile loop on a packed dirt road which is quite rough in places. Fall is definitely the off-season, and although there were certainly tourists, it was easy to pull off whenever the road allowed. We bypassed the first stop – the Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte – to get a slight edge on the jumble of cars entering the procession. We passed Elephant Butte, and the Three Sisters, then made the turn toward Rain God Mesa.
The wind definitely dampened my spirits. I found it pretty comical – it was enjoyable to watch people attempt selfies – but I wasn’t enthusiastic to get out at every viewpoint.
We drove alongside Spearhead Mesa to the next viewpoint which was the most spectacular – Artist’s Point. We chose a higher point than most others to admire this view. It really captures the expansive barren landscape of the area. It’s also the most iconic western view I’ve ever seen. It’s a great perspective.
We stopped at North Window next. We began walking up the path, but huge gusts of wind blew into us making is difficult to walk, much less take a photo. I was even slightly worried it might hurl me off the edge. The view we missed though was slightly wider, including the buttes at the parking area. Oops. We ran back to the car, ready to conclude the tour.
On our way out we did stop at the Mitten Buttes. Either the wind had gotten stronger or we were no longer protected by the barrier of mesas because it was difficult to even look at the view with my eyes. I snapped a couple photos and ran laughing back to the car. Zach clearly didn’t believe how windy it was and decided to get his own photos. I think he encountered stronger wind gusts than I did!
We left the park and crossed back into Utah. We planned to stop at the “Forrest Gump Hill” a spot which has really blown up on social media. It was a gorgeous view of the towering monuments below. The wind was still blowing strong gusts and it had gotten significantly cooler with our elevation gain. Truman was not excited to be outside at all. I liked our view off the road, but the iconic photo is on the road itself. We managed to wait out a couple other groups of people and I took a decent photo of Zach. There wasn’t much traffic on the road or tourists, so I think we were lucky.