Visit the Monument Valley riding is many people’s dream, but only few people know that it can be low cost!
We wake up at dawn to admire the sun rising from a definitely privileged place, after have contemplated the unique colors of sunset and a huge full moon rising among these rocky mountains last night.
It was a chance, but we chanced to the Monument Valley in this day of January just at the right moment: a such moon can be seen few times a year!
It’s common knowledge that the two best places to sleep with the wonderful view of the enormous monoliths are:
The View, inside the park: it offers rooms and bungalow with a postcard view from where admiring the dawn and the sun rising
Goulding’s Lodge just outside: it offers rooms with balcony and has a perfect position to admire sunset.
You choose. Personally – if I have to give a piece of advice about where to sleep to visit the Monument Valley – I really go against the general trend and I say to stay outside, even though a bit distant, and not to sleep inside the park.
The quality-price ratio about what they offer (both here at the Monument Valley and in many other parks) isn’t worth it the very high expense in Summer nor that one definitely lower and low cost in January.
The accommodations of the near small towns offer much more at low-cost prices. The view that the dawn guarantees is worth it the very early rising to reach the park and admire it.
You can admire the sunset without getting up very early and the ticket will allow you to go in and out from the park when you want for 7 days. Remember that here and at the Antelope the annual card of the USA parks is not valid, since this is an Indian Reservation.
There are endless tours solutions and proposals to visit the Monument Valley riding, by jeeps or by thousand other different ways.
We – after some contacts with Native Indians who didn’t shine in kindness and likableness – opted for the tour by car do-it-yourself.
Four wheel drive is absolutely recommended since there are dirty roads and in some points the conditions of the roadway are enough uneven road surface . However really many visitors drive the ring by normal cars, some of them low.
We enter the park very early in the morning. It’s a sunny day and there’s a clear blue sky. Temperature fell about 0° C last night and it will reach 23-24° C in the warmest hours.
We start to take the usual endless number of photographs in this view that – little by little the sun rises – becomes more and more perfect and after real short time – in correspondence with the three sisters – on the right we run into a souvenirs station and several stalls (still deserted due to the early hour) and then Mike with his horse corral.
Anyone who follows me knows that even if we aren’t very good in riding – quite the opposite! – it’s an activity we like a lot and that we often try to do around the world. Visit the Monument Valley riding is certainly an aspect we aim to!
It’s January, there is no one around yet and Mike is taking care of his horses.
We stop and ask for info practically forced by Valeria who doesn’t stop repeating how beautiful would be to visit the Monument Valley riding!
We don’t deceive ourselves so much: we already tried to ask Bryce Canyon and in other visited places in the last days and prices are really crazy. People arrived to ask us 170 dollars each for half an hour!
The prices listed here are a bit lower, but anyway completely out of any reasonably reach, at least for me!
As usual, Valeria insists and doesn’t give up. Her tenancy, together with her usual deal of luck…she always gets the outcome!
While we’re getting in the car to continue our tour, she stops outside the corral to admire the horses she loves so much.
She starts chatting with Mike and she explains to him how she likes riding and how she isn’t able to convince us to visit the Monument Valley riding due to the too high price.
Two lines, two requests of reduction, a bit of deal and – certainly thanks to the very low season, the Holiday season just finished and the fact that probably in this period there are no customers unlike Summer when Mike has even 8 guides helping him – Valeria is able to wrings a ridiculous price (not even in Italy you find it!).
She comes back to the car jumping and tells us to hurry up. Incredulous, we asks her more times if she’s sure to have well understood.
She answers to us with her usual satisfied face: “Of course, I got it right!”
Mike welcomes us smiling and he gets info about our skills. We laugh and he answers not to worry because at the end of the ride we’ll have learnt to make the horse run more that what we think!
I must admit to have looked at him with a too bit sympathetic face, but I am really aware of my inexistent skills! He limits himself to say: “You’ll see!”
In a flash all the three of us are in the saddle, ready to visit the Monument Valley riding!
Two quick instructions about the base orders we already know to make the horse leave – and above all stop! – and we leave.
Valeria is already too ahead and she goes too fast according to me, but she pretends not to hear me when I tells her to slow down!
On the contrary, who knows why she hears very well Mike’s compliments about her way to ride!…and she goes always faster!
Describing the emotions we feel riding through the vastness of these landscapes – the 4 of us in the silence by far, the sun bursting our faces (we burst ourselves in January!) and the cold wind lashing our cheek – is impossible!
Mike tells us many anecdotes and curious issues, he lists the names of every rock, the endless movies and commercials shot in this place to us, he tells us about himself and his family, about his six kids and he is astonished about the fact we have got only one.
It seems to be in a country with an opposite culture in comparison with ours and not in the United states!
He asks us if an only child isn’t less. I don’t know what to answer…I laugh saying that if I had had even only two…I couldn’t afford this riding! Not even the discounted one!
He tells us to be born with horses, that usually in this period it’s snowing and that he rides with tourists even with snow.
I try to imagine this so surreal place whole snow-covered…I promise myself – as I often do in many parts of the world and in many heavenly situations like this – to come back in order to enjoy them better…even if in my heart I know I won’t do that!
The world is so big and time to travel is always too less!
The best of these riding tours – as well all the other tours accompanied by the Native Indians – is that you reach places which would be inaccessible on the contrary.
Since it is an Indian Reservation, the roads which differ from the loop you can do alone, are forbidden if you are not accompanied.
The fist idea we got – a sort of “once seen the main rocks, the other ones will be all the same” – vanished immediately when we turn behind a ridge and look up to the sky.
We are left gaping in front of this huge and very high hole, simply called “hole”, where the contrast of the blue sky with the red rock allows perfect shoots.
On the bottom there are also graffiti and rock paintings.
It looks like to be in one among the many western movies watched on TV, everything raised to the umpteenth power by these boundless spaces and this incredible feeling of freedom that the TV – as my photos here – isn’t certainly able to transmit!
It’s an excursion which relaxes and empties one’s own mind.
Just the time to change piles to the camera and it’s already time to leave again to come back.
Practically Mike gives orders to his horses using his voice and making some gestures. When they are close to him they don’t obey to the reins orders, but to him. When they are far they obey perfectly to whom is riding.
So, what does it happen when you walk slowly? Mike comes close, chats with me, at the end gives the order and the horse increases the speed.
Immediately I draw reins and the horse keeps going too fast for me.
We’re getting far from Mike and so it answers again to my orders and it slows down. Everything perfectly calculated!
Mike acts like that with everyone for the whole time. Well…not with Valeria…because she’s always more ahead than all and Mike keeps telling her “Brava!” even when she complains we’re are slow!
What’s the result? When we leave again, thanks to the plain and sandy ground (visit the Monument Valley riding is the perfect condition since it is very easy: plainly and sandy!) and the confidence I get with the horse in the meantime…I give the order to increase speed almost without realizing it!
It’s a wonderful feeling, above all for me since I don’t love animals particularly and above all I don’t love to be in their hands like in this case!
I accelerate and then slow down, then again, then always more often. At a certain point Mike comes close to me smiling and satisfied: “Did you see? I was right.”
And I never bet nothing on myself!
Getting off the horse after several hours, when you are not used like us, it means not being able to straighten one’s own legs anymore.
Did you remember the cow-boys scenes getting off the horse, walk swinging with their bow legs? Here it is! In that moment, for the first time, you’ll understand perfectly why!
Riding for many hours tires so much. Keep it in mind when planning: it’s useless to plan other exhausting activities in the afternoon! You won’t be able to get off the car anymore!
The tours we looked at providing for night excursions, bbq around the fire, tours to the settlement (even if we didn’t do them) gave us the idea to be too much tourist.
On the contrary, the riding excursion was all for us. Enjoying the silence and the rustle of the wind is priceless: a feeling which still relaxes me while I’m writing this post after a lot of time.
The tour is very good even if you don’t understand perfectly the language (or if, like us, you are not familiar with the “horse” terms) since Mike is very patient, repeats and makes see through gestures.
If you have teenagers kids it will be a unique experience for you and for them.
It’s better to arrive at Mike’s, under the three sisters, above all in the high season, very early in the morning.
Mike doesn’t have an email address, he doesn’t use the computer and he doesn’t know what a blog is.
I know, it’s incredible…I made me repeat it more times because I thought he was joking.
But he assured me – at the end of the tour when I left my visiting card to him – that all the people arriving after have read this post will be given a very good reduction, above all in the low season!
Trust me! If you pass by there, don’t miss the chance!