Monument Valley is that incredible backdrop where we have all watched John Wayne galloping across the plains with a mob of Indians hot on his tail, or Will Smith fighting off the evil giant mechanical spider. And who can forget Forrest Gump deciding it was time to stop running? Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda cruising through in Easy Rider, Chevy Chase launching the family station wagon in National Lampoon’s Vacation.
The last time we traveled through here, we stayed at Goulding’s Lodge (they also have a campground) in a lovely, big, air-conditioned room with a balcony looking out to Monument Valley. The lodge has a restaurant on-site, with excellent friendly service (but no alcohol served).
The lodge was established by Harry Goulding and his wife, Leone (known as Mick), who purchased the land in the1920s. They created a trading post to trade food and goods with the local Navajo people in exchange for handcrafted rugs and jewelry. Over the years, this expanded to include accommodation for the movie production companies that brought much-needed income to the area.
If you arrive early enough in Monument Valley, you can take the late afternoon Navajo tour, which I can highly recommend. This takes you deep into the heart of the valley and talks about the native beliefs and history. This entire area is run by the Navajo, who do a damn good job of making us feel welcome and sharing their culture. (www.gouldings.com)