Monument Valley Adventures - Day 1

Monument Valley is a magical place.  Who would think you could say that about a place in the middle of the desert, far away from any sizeable city?  But it is.  Maybe it's the scenic vistas and vastness of the land or perhaps it's the majestic sandstone formations that tower above the desert floor, seemingly standing guard over the landscape.  Whatever it is, millions of people flock to this place each year.  It has become one of the most photographed locations on the planet.   

Driving into Monument Valley from the south on U.S. Route 163, a peculiar formation will quickly come into view that rises over 1,500 feet above the surrounding terrain.  This is El Capitan, or Agathla Peak, and one can't help but wonder how this huge monolith got here and what forces were at work to create it.  This is just one of many geologic wonders dotting this region, which is more broadly a part of the Colorado Plateau.  This mountain, considered sacred by the Navajo, is a volcanic feature formed by a breach of the earth's surface by magma and the resulting gaseous explosions.  

El Capitan

Arriving in Monument Valley, we proceeded to check in to The View Hotel, which would be our home base for the next couple of days.  It is a beautiful hotel, and situated at the entrance into the valley, certainly lives up to it's name.  The view from this place is spectacular.

Room With A View

By the time we arrived and got unpacked, it was getting close to sunset.  We decided this would be a great time to capture some images from one of the most iconic settings in the park. This is a scene that has been photographed countless times and seen in magazines, books, on television, and in several movies.  Regardless, it was awesome to experience it in person.

East Mitten & Merrick Butte

Monument Valley Sunset

The familiar scene in the image above shows the West Mitten (on the left), the East Mitten (center), and Merrick's Butte (on the right).  This scene and the surrounding area has served as a backdrop for a number of movies that have been filmed here, beginning in 1939 with John Ford's Stagecoach, starring a young John Wayne in his breakout role.  Over the years, John Ford returned nine times to film westerns in Monument Valley.  Other more recent movies filmed at least partially in Monument Valley include National Lampoon's Vacation, Thelma & Louise, Back to the Future Part III, Forrest Gump, Mission: Impossible II, The Lone Ranger, and Transformers: Age of Extinction.  The exposure provided by the many films, television, and commercials really put this place on the map and people from all over the world come to see for themselves this amazing location.

Having a room with a balcony overlooking this iconic landscape, as well as clear skies and a meteor shower means that night time is an opportunity to make some star images.  Lots of photos, not much sleep.  The Orionid meteor shower was peaking early the next morning, so I set up the camera on a tripod on the balcony to see if one would pass through my frame.  It's not very prominent, but it's there in the bottom left of the image below.

Monument Valley Meteor

That's all for now...more to come.