Where’s John Wayne When You Need Him?

Three Sisters

Three Sisters

Hubby is an avid John Wayne fan. I can’t count how many times I have seen him watch The Longest Day. I have even caught him reciting the lines along with the Duke. So when I mentioned a drive to Monument Valley, his first comment had to do with The Searchers, one of many John Wayne movies filmed there. So many westerns have used this location  that decades of moviegoers have had  their view of the American west defined by these few square miles.

We never got to this remote place the last time we were in the area. Not knowing when we would be this way again we felt we needed to bite the bullet and make the drive to see this iconic place. It is on part of the same Navajo tribal lands as Canyon De Chelly, where we were staying, we just had to drive 90 minutes to get there.

The long road in...

The long road in…

Paying our $5 each to enter the Valley we found a large hotel/resort, jeep tours and lots of people snapping photos. Since we have a four-wheel drive jeep, we decided to drive the 17 mile loop down and around the Valley floor.  It was rocky, sandy, steep in some places, washed out in others. We managed fine with the jeep, but you would not believe  what some people chose to drive off road.  An old Chevy impala?  We saw no breakdowns, or cars stuck in sand so I guess  they knew what they were doing.

Local wildlife

Local wildlife

Though it doesn’t look like there is much life on the canyon floor we found lots of flowering shrubs and cacti, many lizards and even a few horses. One would think driving a loop would be pretty straightforward, so to speak. We did manage to take a wrong turn.   People do live in Monument Valley and it seems we turned down someones driveway. When we saw a house we realized our mistake, back tracked and got back on the “loop.” John Wayne would have been proud.

We found a horse, but no cowboys of indians

We found a horse, but no cowboys of indians

About JudithC99

Wanderer. Writer. Artist. Photographer. Learner. Traveler of the Red Roads


  1. Heff

    Was that Chevy Impala a ’59 black convertible with 5 guys in the trunk?

  2. Penny

    Bim feels the same about John Wayne! We camped there during a wind storm later finding that fine red dirt just everywhere. Thanks for the memories.

  3. We visited “The Valley” in 2010 as part of a tour of the southwest. Without a doubt, MV was the highlight. Nice photos.

  4. Beautiful park! We are over in Bluff, UT so we also have Mini Monument Valley…Valley of the Gods. Glad you got to visit the old western location.

  5. We were in Bluff last month. Neat little place to make a base camp for Monument, Valley, the petroglyphs, etc. Twin Rocks cafe has awesome frybread and the trading post (not the gift shop) has great stuff.

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