When we left the Gunnison area, off we went to Medicine Hat, Utah, which would become our home away from home while in the Monument Valley area. There, we planned to meet up with fellow photographer and friend, Rodney Lange (In case you don’t know Rodney, he has amazing landscape photography and he can be found on flickr and 500px). It was a long drive and the landscape changed quite a bit along the way. The greens of the mountains of Colorado went by the wayside and soon we were in the desert, with its bare landscape colored in various tones of the southwest. Our first order of business was a trip into Monument Valley, which is probably very familiar landscape to most of you, as this area has been made famous through the various films and commercials which have been produced there over the years. Yes, welcome to the wild, wild west! Located 13-miles from the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is probably one of the most iconic shots. We took turns guarding the road from on-coming traffic as we got low on the road for better perspective. 🙂 Trying to make the best of the light and the clear skies, which by the way are never guaranteed, we stopped to grab some shots along the way. The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, part of the Colorado Plateau in the Four Corners area, contains sandstone buttes and spires, some as high as 1,000 ft high, is actually on Navajo Nation land. Since we were visiting the area towards the end of the day, we had to wait for the sunset to begin. In the meanwhile, we were treated to a rainstorm off in the distance, which threatened our evening, but provided some dramatic moments to our photography.
Thankfully the storm rained itself out before it reached us and the light began to cast a gorgeous warm light of several of the iconic formations within the park. I’m talking about the “mittens” …. … and Merrick Butte Put them all together, season them with the varying landscape tones with the fading light, sprinkle in some moody clouds, and this is what you get … Absolutely GORGEOUS landscape! In the image you’ll see a dirt road which you can drive yourself or take a guided tour to get more up close and personal with the formations within the park. We didn’t partake in the drive as we were more interested in trying to document the scene at night, with the stars overhead. Unfortunately, we visited in almost a full moon cycle, so the stars and milky way were quite a bit of a challenge, but we did manage to get a shot or two. 🙂 After some time, we decided to head back towards our lodging, but of course stopped along the way to experiment some more with night photography. Tom, my husband and sherpa-extraordinaire, was also quite the model for us. Thanks baby! Once the moon started to rise, the stars seemed to retreat rapidly, but the moonrise was itself beautiful as well. The next day, before we left the area, we visited again to get some more images of the beautiful landscape. Of course, there was more than buttes and spires, there were also flowers … which when you think about how hard it must be for them to grow and survive in the conditions encountered, is quite impressive. Dining in the area was a bit scarce, but we did manage to grab a quick bite near the San Juan River, where we observed this park ranger paddling down the river … oh yes, it’s a tough life, but someone has to do it. 🙂 Not to be outdone in the area, Mexican Hat is also home to the Valley of the Gods, which is sort of a miniature Monument Valley, which is run by the Bureau of Land Management. We ventured out on the gravel and sometimes severely potholed road which meanders through the area and found it to be quite beautiful and interesting as well. Oh, and did I mention how deserted it was? So nice to avoid the crowds of Monument Valley. Yes, it was the “Three Amigos” … and it was time to make our way on to our next base camp of Moab, UT … for more adventures in Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, and Dead Horse Point SP. Stay tuned to the blog for more images.