day 07: Lake Powell - Monument Valley - New Mexico

    .               Sunrise at Lake Powell, AZ                                       Kayenta, AZ                                        Navajo Tribal Park Entrance Sign

    .                                                                Our route on day 07 (lenght: 311 miles / 504 km)

After a spectacular sunrise at Lake Powell we started the longest day trip of our vacation. Crossing the Navajo Nation almost from the west to the east, we visited three states (Arizona, Utah, New Mexico). Driving back to Page through Glen Canyon NRA we went southeast on Highway AZ-98, passing the desert. We made our first break in Kayenta at the junction of Highway US-160 and US-163.

We left Kayenta on Highway US-163 to the north. The border to Utah is the location of the Navajo Tribal Park, encompassed by Monument Valley. At the center of the Navajo Tribal Park is the visitor center with a museum and information center. At the museum we learned a lot about the history of the American Indians of the Southwest. Outside, standing in the heart of Monument Valley, we saw the towering mesas and buttes rising out of the red desert sand.

The Navajo Tribal Park is in Monument Valley, straddling the border of northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah. The Tribal Park's visitor center is one mile east of Highway US-163 on the Arizona-Utah border. The visitor center has a gift shop as well as various exhibits of the Navajo Nation and the area's history. Most of Monument Valley can be seen from the Valley drive, a 17 mile dirt road, which starts at the visitor center and goes south east amongst the towering cliffs and mesas.

Monument Valley is one of the best kwon images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by red sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times for movies, adverts and brochures. The valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat landscape, interrupted by the crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region.

    .                           Monument Valley                                             Monument Valley                                           Utah Border Sign


Leaving the Navajo Tribal Park we went further north into Utah passing Mexican Hat with its name-giving rock formation. Shortly before entering Bluff we went southeast on Highway US-191 crossing the border to Arizona. We made a break in Teec Nos Pos at the Teec Nos Pos Trading Post.

Mexican Hat
After passing the mesas of Monument Valley the Highway US-163 crosses 20 miles of rather flat landscape past scattered Indian houses to Mexican Hat, a small settlement named after a curious formation nearby with a large flat rock 60 feet in diameter perched precariously on a much smaller base at the top of a small hill. The village itself is unremarkable but the surrounding scenery is exceptional and not often visited, with cliffs, canyons and red rock buttes.

Mexican Hat, UT

.                      New Mexico Border Sign                                           Shiprock Peak, NM

Shortly after leaving Teec Nos Pos we crossed the border to New Mexico, where we headed further to the east. From far away we could already see Shiprock Peak, rising out of the desert plains to the southwest.

Shiprock is a volcanic plume rising 1700 feet (520 m) high out of the desert floor.It is sacred to the Navajos. The Navajo name is Tse Bi Dahi wich means "Rock With Wings". This name comes from an ancient folk myth that tells how the rock was once a great bird that transported the ancestral people of the Navajos to their lands in what is now northwestern New Mexico. Geologists tell us the rock was formed 12 million years ago during the Pliocene. The monolith is six miles south of Highway US-666 and thirteen miles from it's namesake town, Shiprock, New Mexico. On clear days it can be seen from as far away as southwestern Colorado and northeastern Arizona. The rock was climbed in 1939. Since 1970, Shiprock has been off limits to climbers, accorded the respect due a Navajo sacred place.


A few miles after crossing the City of Farmington, New Mexico, we came into Bloomfield, New Mexico. In Bloomfield we drove to the KOA, where we stayed our night in New Mexico. We relaxed the rest of the day at the nicest KOA of all KOAs we visited on our trips. It was superclean. Color paintings and indian crafts everywhere, even in the bathroom. Very beautiful landscape, playing hall with pool billiard and a nice shop with lots of indian crafts. And best of all, really nice people at the managment. Although we met a lot of nice people at all campgrounds and RV parks, this was the best.


.                                           KOA Campground & RV Park, Bloomfield, NM

.                    Near Mexican Hat, UT                                       Mexican Hat, UT                                                 Shiprock, NM

    day 07 travel dates:

    Route: Wahweap, AZ - Kayenta, AZ - Mexican Hat, UT - Teec Nos Pos, AZ - Bloomfield, NM
    Miles: today = 311 / total = 883
    Visiting: Kayenta, AZ & Monument Valley & Navajo Tribal Park & Teec Nos Pos, AZ & Bloomfield, NM
    Night at KOA Bloomfield, Bloomfield, NM



USA Southwest 2002 ----- Travel ----- Klaus Tueshaus ----- Established: 08-APR-2002 ----- Last Update: 02-MAR-2018