Sure it looks hot and sunny in the pic, but if you come in winter be prepared for real cold weather and even snow. It might not seem possible but that is t he case. The temp in this pic is about 32 F or about 0 C. Just be prepared and remember its not always hot in the desert! Especially at night
Monument Valley is very windy and dusty, especially in summer. It's a fine, red dust that gets everywhere! You'll need to take precautions if you have expensive camera equipment. Even in April, the dust was enough to gum up the lens protecting shutter on my Canon A510 so that I had to tap it every time I turned it on to get it to open.
Some try to spare money by taking 'their' car (mostly a rental, which seems to make it even more easy to choose this option) into the dusty roads of the Monument Valley Park. The roads are however bumpy and the dust penetrates everything. However, we saw what happens when seldomly the rain strikes and turns the land in one big red muddy swamp. Believe me, the penalty that the rentalcompany or the bill that your garage gives you, is a lot higher then the price of a jeepsafari.
If you have a fear of horses, don't ride. The outfitters ask you what kind of experience you have riding and try to gear your ride to your ability. This is obviously much easier to do if you are not in a group. If you ride in a group, they must try to keep the group together. If you're doing an overnight trip there's quite a distance to cover, so you will at least be going at a trott, more times than not. I find galloping much more comfortable as you aren't bouncing up and down as with trotting. Ouch! The Navajo wranglers will also explain to you how to make the horse turn, stop, etc. Pay attention! IF YOU GALLOP, DON'T BUNCH UP WITH OTHER HORSES AS THEY MAY KICK! Bunching up at a gallop also gives you a better chance of getting knocked off.
There is lots to see besides dust and rocks in a desert. You only have to look a bit closer at things. There are a lot of lizards in the dessert, but they are more scared from you, that the other way round. When you are quiet and look carefully you will spot them. But do leave them in peace, and just enjoy looking at them.
I don't know for sure but I think this is a Collared lizard. One of my travelbooks explained to me that : 'The collard lizard can be shades of yellow, green or brown and is often found sunning itself on a rock'. Lizards are carnivores. You can spot them on top of a rock, basking in the sun, warming up enough to go out hunting. From these exposed locations, they claim their territory, attract mates, and search for food.
Please correct me if it's not the collared lizard. I am always curious to know a bit more about the animals I spot
Beware : don't reach blindly under bushes, rocks or into holes. Rattlesnakes, scorpions and spiders do occur within the park.
You might think that you have allready have seen Monument Valley before? This might be true... Many major films and TV episodes have been shot using Monument Valley sites. This particular site also is often used in automobile commercials. Following are some of the better known films shot in the Valley:
1940 - Kit Carson
1941 - Billy the Kid
1946 - My Darling Clementine
1948 - Fort Apache
1949 - She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
1956 - The Searchers
1962 - How the West Was Won
1969 - Mackenna's Gold
1974 - The Trial of Billy Jack
1975 - The Eiger Sanction
1981 - The Ledgend of the Lone Ranger
1983 - Back to the Future II
1991 - Back to the Future III
1993 - Forrest Gump
1993 - Tall Tales
1994 - Lightning Jack
1995 - Waiting to Exhale
In short: We booked a two hour trail ride. The horse threw my teenage daughter who was then too scared to remount. As we had just managed to talk her round our guide kicked and punched the horse responsible causing further distress and so ending any chance of her completing the ride. The guide kept suggesting that the rest of us continue with the package. With some persuasion he took the rest of the group back to the coral while I waited with my daughter. He then disappeared leaving the group to try and locate us (we were not on Valley Drive and as such were supposed to be escorted). After two attempts to locate us they returned to the coral, found the guide and persuaded him to show them where we were. Having finally made it back to the coral some 2.5hrs later the guide produced a piece of paper that we had signed to say that we accepted that horse riding was dangerous (note, we were never shown the front of the form only asked to supply name and address details on the rear). Whilst I happily accept that there is an inherent risk associated with this type of activity I am not prepared to accept that there were no provisions made (and clearly no training given) on actions in the event of an incident.
Beware of becoming enthralled with the scenery. It may cause you to overlook the beauty of the people. One of the great celebrations of Navajo life is the celebration of the first time a baby laughs out loud. They have a "Happiness Song" for a reason. Take time to visit an old trading post, like Al's and Margaret's place in Shonto --where John Wayne stayed with John Ford. These are fine people.
If you do venture out anywhere around here, please make sure that you bring some water. You can never tell when you might need it.