Very special places call for very special accommodations. The monoliths of Monument Valley have long been icons of Western scenery. Their impact has been drawing visitors and, perhaps more notably, film crews to the valley for decades. Of course, John Fords’ western films are the most familiar, but other films and commercials are continually being made in the area, spreading the mystical attraction of these monumental landmarks.
When I first visited the Valley 30 years ago area accommodations were limited to a basic motel miles away. This made it difficult to capture early morning and dusk images of the massive landscape of the Navaho nation of southern Utah and northern most Arizona.
I returned 20 years later to enjoy the new View Hotel, (www.monumentvalleyview.com) , which has a predictable future of being fully booked months in advance. The View Hotel is perched atop a rise with magnificent and unobstructed views of iconic monumental buttes and mesas. It will be a lodging Mecca for nature lovers of all ages and nationalities. While every room has a magnificent view, the third floor star-view rooms fulfill the promised of unparallel exposure to star filled heavens.
The property is expertly situated and designed so that windows and “views” are everywhere, from outside observation areas, to the extensive gift shop, restaurant, lobby, elevator and the convenient rooms and balconies. It is a photographer’s paradise when frigid early morning sunrises can be captured only a few steps from a warm and comfy bed. A sudden moon rise into stary skies can be seen with only a casual glance from the room, after a stunning sunset show.
The restaurant offers a variety of choices, but perhaps the most delicious and cross cultural breakfast dish is the Begay Eggs: an interpretation of eggs Benedict on fry bread with exceptional hollandaise. The lunch and evening menu lists favorites sometimes with celebrity names, such as salads named after, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, John Ford and others.
Great views of the valley can be seen not only from the hotel, but also by taking an expert Monument Valley tour with Trail Handle tours (www.trailhandlertours.com) with valley native Harold Simpson and his drivers, who supply back country tours. Back country viewing is not available to non-escorted tourists and is a must to receive the full sense and scope of this hidden landscape accented with a variety of stone arches.
We were fortunate enough to have Jamie Gillis for our driver, who surprised us with spiritually moving melodies played on his wooden flute at Hogan’s Arch. We first thought the van was playing a CD recording, as the acoustics were perfect. We soon realized it was Jamie playing live, with the added natural resonance of the stone mesa walls reverberating his sincere tones. It was a life-affirming Sunday morning long to be remembered. Monument Valley tours also offer overnight experiences in Navaho Hogan’s deep among the mesas. Our being there in the less-visited early winter made it a fantasy time, when a very scenic surprise snow fall was preceded by a dynamic dust storm.
The View Hotel will be a success for its Navaho owners, but it portends other problems, with so many loving the valley… to its detriment. Authorities are aware of the dangers of being too popular, and the ecological challenges ahead. Someday restrictions may be placed on visiting numbers. In consideration of these concerns I would urge travelers to book and go soon.