Morning in Monument Valley

Monument Valley Sunrise, Utah

The rising sun illuminates Monument Valley formations

In some respects, we were incredibly lucky. True, two of our three days in Utah’s Monument Valley were completely blown away by dust storms. And on our fourth day those same gusty winds threatened to force us off the road as we tried to escape the wicked weather. But that second day, the day we arranged an off road tour of the Valley? That day was perfect.

We arose well before sunup to get the first tour of the morning. Our only complaint is that we didn’t get up even earlier. We couldn’t have known that this would be our only clear day in the Valley, and our only chance to photograph the monuments as they emerged from night’s inky blackness into beautiful blue silhouettes of dawn.

We saw them briefly in that light as we pulled into our appointed pick-up spot but had no time for photos. Our jeep was waiting and a bit impatiently too.

Monument Valley Artists Point

Artist’s Point, Monument Valley, UT

Through the meager morning light, our driver navigated us around divots and bounced us over boulders before arriving at a desert plateau just in time to watch the sun crest over the horizon. As we watched, we also learned.

The coming of each new day parallels the ancient Navajo creation legend. It is believed that First Man traveled through four worlds, each a different color–black, blue, yellow and white–before finally settling in this world. As we watched the sun banish the nighttime darkness, it changed the colors of our world in exactly the same way. The birth of each new day, a daily reminder of the start of all things.

With the sun now just above the horizon, we set out again and bounced our way to colorfully named formations like Artist’s Point (above), The Three Nuns, Sleeping Dragon Rock, Big Chief Monument as well as these . . .

Eye of the Sun

Monument Valley Eye of the Sun

Big Hogan

Monument Valley Big Hogan

We’re told Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark shot its famous “Snake Pit Scene” at Big Hogan, although we saw neither snakes nor the Ark of the Covenant there. Nor did we see the movie’s less famous R2D2 hieroglyphic (on the post to Hans Solo’s, um, I mean Indiana Jones’ right in the linked photo).

We did, however, see petroglyphs of non-robotic criters all through the Valley.

Monument Valley Petroglyphs

The weather held out long enough for us to complete our tour under beautiful blue skies. It was a short reprieve, though. Soon the wind kicked up a gale and drove us back inside again. But not before we had a magnificent morning in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley Dust Storm

Dust storms blotted out the scenery almost our entire time in Monument Valley

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17 Comments on “Morning in Monument Valley”

  1. chriscampbellphotography July 13, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Wow, some amazing photographs. Just stumbled across your blog. The name instantly made me smile. I like your idea on seeing everything, everywhere, at least once in our lifetime.


    • Brian July 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      Hi Chris, we’re glad you stumbled here. 🙂 We’re definitely trying to get everywhere, although the world is so large that may not be possible in one lifetime. Keep following along to see how well we do.


  2. Debra Kolkka July 13, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    What absolutely amazing photos!


    • Brian July 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

      Thanks, Debra. I was pretty pleased with how some of these shots came out.


  3. flyingwildgeese July 13, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    Lovely, really lovely!


  4. Stillhowlyn in 2012 July 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    A truly magical place, Monument Valley. No matter how many times we return we always experience it in a different light!


  5. Nikhil Kardale July 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Couldn’t help but think of Mackenna’s Gold! Beautiful photos, and nice travelogue too.


  6. Gunta July 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    So glad you had at least that one good day in one of my favorite places….


  7. jenatviewfinderlife July 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Just came across your blog–beautiful photos. Some of your most recent posts feature the destinations I wish I had been able to include on my last Southwest vacation! Always have to make tough choices:) I’m looking forward to reading more, and to catching up on some of your older posts.


  8. jdgarner68 July 14, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    Wow! That place will make you feel small and insignificant, however, part of something ancient and eternal. That’s the feeling I get from the pictures, though I’ve never been there. Great pics.


  9. Tony July 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    You guys add more to my bucket list than I do! Thank you, this post especially makes my heart pound to think there is such beauty out there!


  10. EaseYourTravel July 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Amazing pictures..


  11. jacquelinediane July 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Wow! I’ll definitely have to add Monument Valley, Utah to my must-see places! Thank you for sharing the beautiful photographs!


  12. jessicadevocht July 17, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    Wow, fantastic pictures. Just saw Namibia and was also struck by canyon and desert-landscapes. Love your blog, keep enjoying life and writing! Jessica


  13. Luu July 18, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    Beautiful pictures! It must have been breath-taking (not because of the dust).



  1. Utah in the Rearview Mirror | Everywhere Once - December 21, 2012

    […] of which only Alaska and California have more, are its crown jewels. Their canyons, arches, and formations cover much of the bottom third of the state. What’s somewhat unique is that the area’s beauty […]


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