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Author Topic: Monument Valley  (Read 879 times)

mseawell

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Monument Valley
« on: August 16, 2018, 01:14:08 PM »

My wife and I are heading down to monument valley the weekend of the 22nd of September. I have never been and wanted to get some "lessons learned" information from people who have experienced Monument Valley. I would like to know whether you did a tour, whether you thought it was worth it, if you like it what company you went went, etc. Also, it would be great to know if you hiked and where if you did. Anything you think helpful would be greatly appreciated!

Mark Seawell
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chez

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2018, 01:26:37 PM »

I did a photo tour of Monument Valley a few years back with a guide named Tom Phillips. I believe Tom has since passed, but the tour company is still running.

I did a tour which started at around 4:30am and went until about 11:00 am and then again at 3:00 until sundown. We were taken throughout the back country in Monument Valley, places you could not go to without a guide. Tom really knew his photography and places and was one hell of a good story teller. I was thoroughly entertained the entire tour, got to a lot of great locations at the right times and came away with some great images and more importantly, an understanding of the natives, their history and culture in and around Monument Valley.

Highly recommend it.
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David Eckels

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2018, 03:34:01 PM »

Visited a couple years ago and did NOT take a tour; wish we had! What Chez said.

Alan Klein

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2018, 03:43:48 PM »

Mark: My wife and I toured most of the southwest national parks and monument valley in April.  I put Monument Valley up to the top of the best visited.   We spent two nights at The View Hotel on Navajo  land, owned and run by them.  The hotel is right in the valley with a great view from all rooms' balconies.  Their breakfasts and dinner were very good too and very reasonably priced.  They have a great store to buy artwork and other stuff at the hotel with a 20% discount if you stay with them.  The room and accommodations were very good.  Spending two nights gave me time to conveniently shoot sunrises and sunsets.

We're not hikers and decided to do the driving tour of the valley ourselves with our rental SUV.  There's a road sort of, but not paved.  But a front wheel drive can handle it.  You can cover the valley drive and stops in about 2-3 hours.  If you use outfits to have them take you, make sure you get one that is in an air conditioned closed car.  The ones where you sit outside get very dusty and you need a mask to breathe.  There are great stops you can make along the valley road on your own.  Frankly, unless you intend to hike or go beyond the main valley road, going yourself is plenty good enough.  You can stop where and how long you want rather than be forced to move on at the driver's pace.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanklein2000/albums/72157694819890421  (changed link)

Alan Klein

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2018, 03:46:52 PM »

The first four at in Monument Valley.  The first on the drive in the valley.  The other three from our room's balcony.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanklein2000/albums/72157694819890421

tonysiciliano1

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2018, 11:55:19 PM »

I highly recommend going out with a guide. I've done it five times: two sunrises, two sunsets, and an overnight on Hunt's Mesa. All five were with Navajo guide Ray Begay, who I highly recommend. He used to be with the Phillips outfit, but now works for his cousin. Besides being local and knowing the territory, he is also a great photographer and knows how and what and when the light is likely to be. His phone number is 928 429-4399. He will answer both calls and a text. He is the best!
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Alan Klein

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2018, 10:04:43 AM »

Tony those are beautiful shots on your webpage. You just reminded me that we had originally booked a sunset tour with a local guide. But because I had a bad back, I canceled it because he said the drive was going to be pretty rough in the back areas where he goes. So we drove the valley road on our own.  It was bumpy, but I had no problem with my back.

tonysiciliano1

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2018, 12:20:27 PM »

Thanks for the compliment. Your post reminded my of our adventure going to Hunt's Mesa. Basically, the 4 WD journey is entirely cross country: ie, no road. Many sections of it we were driving up large boulders which at the time seemed like at a 45 degree angle. And insanely bumpy. It was actually terrifying. We didn't have any good light for either sunset or sunrise, so I'd love to shoot it again, but you couldn't pay me enough to drive up there  once more! Not for the faint of heart!
« Last Edit: August 18, 2018, 12:24:41 PM by tonysiciliano1 »
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Alan Klein

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Jeremy Roussak

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2018, 01:45:53 PM »

I'll endorse the recommendation to stay at The View. Its only real drawback is the complete lack of alcohol.

Jeremy
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chez

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2018, 08:16:28 PM »

Tony those are beautiful shots on your webpage. You just reminded me that we had originally booked a sunset tour with a local guide. But because I had a bad back, I canceled it because he said the drive was going to be pretty rough in the back areas where he goes. So we drove the valley road on our own.  It was bumpy, but I had no problem with my back.

The valley road is not where you go with a guide. You go way back into the far reaches of the valley, off of the valley road into areas only accessible with a guide. The locations are much varied and with a guide you are there before sunrise and well after sunset. A totally different experience than the valley drive.
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Alan Klein

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2018, 10:06:23 AM »

I'll endorse the recommendation to stay at The View. Its only real drawback is the complete lack of alcohol.

Jeremy
No alcohol either at the other Hotel Restaurant, Gouldings, about 4 miles away from the Valley and The View Hotel.  Navajo rules for their land.  I suppose you can drink in your room.

tonysiciliano1

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2018, 12:45:10 PM »

To summarize: the self drive in the valley is easy if you drive slowly, and offers many fabulous shots. You can easily spend many hours and not get bored. The biggest problem is that you cannot go there for sunrise, and must leave before sunset. IMO, if there are no clouds, the photos are uninteresting at mid day. The view from the visitor center/View Hotel also offers fabulous shots and you can be there for sunrise and sunset. Even without clouds, there is often a beautiful pink glow at sunset and a golden glow at sunrise. There are several types of guided tours. You can sign up for a sunrise or sunset photography tour, and the tours last about three hours. Typically you will be in a group of four-six in a covered 4WD van. Last year the cost was $250/tour. You will be taken to parts of the valley unaccessable on your own. If you only want to do one tour, I recommend the sunrise tour over the sunset tour. Even without clouds, the sunrise light and compositions that you will be taken to can be fabulous. Two iconic sunrise shots are side lit buttes and the Totum with a sun star, and the Totum with rippling sand dunes in front of it. The sunset tour often include going to Mystery Valley, and the iconic "tear drop" arch. Another available tour is an overnight to Hunt's Mesa, which overlooks the valley floor. That tour offers both a sunset and sunrise shoot.  A third type of tour, which I don't recommend, is a tour on the valley road (not at sunrise or sunset), often in an open air vehicle. These are not photography tours and you can do the drive yourself and decide when and how long to stay at stops. If you want a Navajo guide, see my above post for recommendations. You can see my photos taken on my guided tours at: https://tonysicilianophotography.smugmug.com/Fine-Art-Photography/SOUTHWEST/
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mseawell

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2018, 05:56:56 PM »

I wanted to thank EVERYONE for the input! Wow, a lot to digest but extremely helpful information. I just want to make sure I do it right since I have no clue when I'll get a chance to go back there since I'm at the job. Again, thanking everyone!

Mark
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Jglaser757

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2018, 10:02:24 AM »

FYI,,I saw plenty of people at sunrise driving down on the road at sunrise. Not sure if there were guides in the cars but ??????
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tonysiciliano1

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2018, 01:11:19 PM »

[FYI,,I saw plenty of people at sunrise driving down on the road at sunrise. Not sure if there were guides in the cars but
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I think as photographers we should respect the wishes of the Navajo nation and not break their rules. We are guests.
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Alan Klein

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2018, 01:48:53 PM »

[FYI,,I saw plenty of people at sunrise driving down on the road at sunrise. Not sure if there were guides in the cars but
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I think as photographers we should respect the wishes of the Navajo nation and not break their rules. We are guests.

Curious where does it say you can't drive at sunset or sunrise?  There's a $20 fee for general admission to drive the main valley road.  The gate has specific hours.  But it doesn;t say you can;t stay past sunset to get some shots from the valley. https://navajonationparks.org/general-admission/monument-valley-admission/  That fee is waived I believe if you stay at the The View Hotel which is owned and run by the Navajo.  You also can buy a backcountry permit where no guide is required and can stay overnight during those times. https://navajonationparks.org/permits/backcountry-hiking-camping/


  I don't recall the circumstances right now.  But we got to the entrance gate late when they were closing up.  The sign or the gate person (I forget) said I could proceed and come back the next day to pay the fee.  The hotel is past the gate overlooking the monuments so you can get pretty good sunrise/sunset shots from there if you don;t want to do the valley drive.  There's a public viewing point where everyone hangs out.  See my flickr page.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanklein2000/albums/72157694819890421

DougDolde

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2018, 03:01:45 PM »

I was there a couple years ago and stayed at the View Hotel.  Here's a sunrise shot from that morning. Taken from my balcony with an IQ140 and 43mm Digitar

http://www.douglasdolde.com/-/galleries/monument-valley/-/medias/4b5bd1d6-6a70-11e3-9424-c54eb4055642-merrick-butte-eclipse
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Alan Klein

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Re: Monument Valley
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2018, 03:56:00 PM »

Nice shot Doug.  I think you were in the same room as me.  :)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanklein2000/44796690872/in/album-72157694819890421/
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