“Be still and the earth will speak to you.” Navajo proverb
One of the things I loved about my recent tour of US National Parks was the diversity of scenery that we covered in only two weeks. From the sheer scale of the Grand Canyon compared to the narrow confines of Antelope Canyon; from the steep cliffs in Zion National Park to the strange-shaped hoodoos in Bryce Canyon; from the stark landscapes in Death Valley to the lush green meadows of Yosemite National Park.
I was lucky enough to experience most of these landscapes through hiking, but there were occasions where hiking wasn’t possible – such as Monument Valley. Here, I joined a jeep tour with Simpson’s Trailhandler Tours, run by Navajos who were born and raised in the area. It was such a privilege to learn about this place from the people who call Monument Valley ‘their Motherland’.
Monument Valley is located on the Arizona-Utah state line and is part of the Colorado Plateau. It’s a place that is immediately familiar, even if you’ve never set foot there, because the towering rock formations have featured in Hollywood films including many John Wayne westerns. The strange sandstone buttes rise majestically from an undulating desert floor with the highest being about 1000 feet (300 metres).
At the visitor centre I saw the incredible panorama of the Mitten buttes and Merrick Butte (in the photo above), while on the tour we travelled 17 miles (27 km) via an unpaved loop road stopping at scenic locations including John Ford’s Point, Totem Poles, Artist’s Point and the Three Sisters. We got out of the vehicle on many occasions to see the detail and colour in this incredible landscape – the saturated reds and browns of the rock formations and shifting sands, the brilliant green of the shrubs and trees, and the intense blue of the sky (on a perfect September day). At times I really did feel like I’d ventured back in time to the old wild west – dust and all! Here are just a few of my photographs from that day.