Road Trip-Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona: Part 3 Valley of the Gods & Monument Valley

Over the past couple of weeks I have shared Part 1 and Part 2 of our 2017 road trip including our time at Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and our stay in Moab, Utah. Be sure to click the links to read those if you haven’t already.

Join me for Part 3 as I take you through the part of our trip where we left Moab and explored the Needles District of Canyonlands NP, Valley of the Gods, Muley Point, Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon.

Road Trip Day 5

We got up early to enjoy the sunrise while I journaled and Chance relaxed in his hammock. We made coffee and breakfast tacos before packing up our campsite and getting on the road. Moab was beautiful and a place we would love to visit again. We only scratched the surface of all there is to explore there. We drove south on Highway 191 about 75 miles to get to the Canyonlands Needles District. We didn’t spend a lot of time there but we wanted to be sure we got to see it since we were so close. There are some great views and if you have the time, plenty of hiking trails to take.

We continued down Highway 191 and found a spot to have a picnic lunch right next to a lake just before the town of Blanding. We had perfect weather and Chance even jumped in for a quick swim. We got back on the road and made it to Valley of the Gods, which would be our destination for the evening. We drove the 14 mile loop through the park admiring the huge rock formations and trying to see how they got their names. If you do some research to go to Valley of the Gods you will read about how terrible the roads are. Maybe when it rains that would be true, but these were roads were better than a lot of county roads in Texas. Don’t let the negative road reviews scare you away from driving through and experiencing this place. It has a beauty all of its own.

As we made our way through Valley of the Gods it spit us out at the road that leads to Moki Dugway. This is a winding road with tight switchbacks that climbs over 1,000 feet in 3 miles to take you up to Muley Point. Reading the reviews had me a nervous wreck, but once we got on there the roads are much wider than I had anticipated. Most places were wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass and small cars with no 4 wheel drive made it just fine. The overlooks along Moki Dugway had some fantastic views, but the icing on the cake was getting to the Muley Point Overlook.

Overlooking Valley of the Gods from Moki Dugway

We only saw four other people at Muley Point. Chance walked all over the place searching for the best view. I found a spot on a rock, layed back and soaked up the sun. As I laid there, I prayed. It was such a peaceful place, and so quiet, I couldn’t help but count my blessings and just pour out my heart of gratitude. Being surrounded by God’s incredible creation moved me deep in my soul. I felt His presence that day in a way I hadn’t before. I was so full of gratitude for the trials He had taken me through and the lessons that had come out of it. No matter how bad things seemed to be, He had a plan for me. I had moments in the past where I ran from Him, where I questioned Him and my faith wavered. But that day He was there and He reminded me that no matter how far I tried to run from Him, He never left me. We had a moment on top of Muley Point that I will never forget.

At the top of Muley Point

We made out way back down Moki Dugway to Valley of the Gods where we settled on a campsite just past the rooster formation near the one that looked like a rhinoceros horn. This is what Chance had been waiting for. Camping here meant absolutely no facilities-no water, electricity or bathrooms-and I agreed to sleep under the stars with no tent! Who am I?! This is definitely not something I would normally do, but I really enjoyed the camping in Moab and I knew how much Chance wanted to sleep under the stars. There are no lights near Valley of the Gods so its known as one of America’s ‘dark sky’ parks. We got settled at our site, cooked dinner with our Coleman stove, made a campfire and enjoyed the evening.

Our campsite in Valley of the Gods

Neither of us slept much. We just laid there and stared at the stars. We watched clouds roll in, we got sprinkled on for a few minutes and were a bit disappointed that the sky was cloudy and covering most of the stars. We dozed off for awhile and at some point in the night i woke up to a clear sky with thousands of stars. I woke Chance, but he was already awake admiring the view. What an amazing experience. And to think that I didn’t want to stay there because of the lack of facilities and didn’t want to sleep without a tent because of my own fears. I would have missed so much beauty.

Sunrise – Valley of the Gods

Road Trip Day 6

We were awake by 5am and just laid there staring at the stars and watching the sunrise come up. It was stunning. We made breakfast, packed up our stuff and headed to the nearest town, Mexican Hat. We needed gas and ice and I was really happy to find a restroom and not have to use the bucket we had packed for our night at Valley of the Gods. From there it was time to see Monument Valley. As we approached it there is a famous view many people recognize from Forest Gump where he decides to stop running and go home. Of course, we had to get a picture!

Monument Valley was so fun. It was a lot of driving and we took so many pictures, but we had a great time. Its on Navajo Nation so the America the Beautiful pass doesn’t work there. We paid the $20 entry fee, got the map and made it to every single stop on the road. There really isn’t any hiking to do, the few trails that were there we decided not to do. One of my favorites was Three Sisters, of course. Being the oldest of 3 girls this was a special one for me. Another fun thing about Monument Valley is that there are wild horses that run throughout so be on the lookout when you go. I won’t bore you with too many details about MV, I’ll just share a few pictures for you to see and say that if you haven’t been there, add it to your list of places to visit. The roads aren’t great, but the views are worth it. 

The Mittens Buttes in Monument Valley

Rain God Mesa – If you look closely, you can see Chance at the base of it in a green shirt. He ran up there to get a perspective of just how big it is.

After spending the afternoon in Monument Valley it was time to say goodbye to Utah as we headed to Page, Arizona for the night. Just before we got to Page we stopped at Lower Antelope Canyon for a tour. We booked our tour through Dixie Ellis and for the two of us it was $66. This is an extremely popular place and its full of people. We happened to be behind a tour bus with about 50 Japanese people on it. The tour guides try to take about 15 people per tour and they keep you in a single file line. Several groups are in the canyon together and it gets hectic. But once inside the canyon it widens and spreads out a bit. It was just as beautiful as the pictures I had seen. The sun shines in and you can see the layers and color changes on the sandstone. The guides are helpful in taking pictures and placing where you can get the best shots. This is a photographers dream place! The guides also did a demonstration with water and sand showing just how the canyons are formed. We really enjoyed that.

Inside Lower Antelope Canyon

Chance and I inside Lower Antelope Canyon

After our tour we made it into Page, AZ where we checked in to a nice hotel and got cleaned up before heading to dinner. From the stargazing and sunrise in Valley of the Gods, the incredible rock buttes in Monument Valley and the sandstone canyons formed by water, we were singing God’s praises all day and completely mesmerized by His creation. We sat on the patio of El Tapatio and watched the sunset completely light up the sky. The storm clouds were rolling in at the same time and the sky was changing colors every second. People were coming from inside the restaurant to the patio to take pictures. God was showing off for us that night! The beautiful sunset and storm clouds and even a double rainbow behind us! We thoroughly enjoyed it! We had such a great day!

Sunset and storm clouds – Page, AZ

Up next: The Grand Canyon

Don’t forget to go back and read Part 1 & 2 from our trip! Links are at the top of this post!

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