Whether we like it or not, everyday we learn something. Today we learned that Monument Valley is not a National Park or even a State Park, it is a Navajo Tribal Park. This means that our park pass was useless and we had to pay the entrance fee. I’m not sure what the fee goes towards but it is definitely not for road maintenance. There is a booming tour business that will drive you around the monuments – starting at $60 a head. Or you can shorten the life of you own vehicle and drive it yourself. The road was unpaved and rutty, we made it 3 miles before turning around. The car we are driving is not ours, it belongs to my parents, previously the 95 Ford Escort belonged to my grandmother. 95 Ford Escorts are not the vehicle of choice on the indigenous Navajo Nation backroads. We still took some great shots of the geological behemoths. Outside of the park there were other vantage points on the North side, just as awesome.
Besides road maintenance priority, another difference between the tribal park and the state/national park was the interpretive center. We are used to the visitor center having displays on all the science focused aspects of the landscape formation. This one had a small twist, we were presented with two perspectives on the monument formation. The first one began, “Geologists say…” and the second, “Navajo oral tradition says…” This is much like the options presented at Crater Lake. The children can now decide for themselves if there was a great body of water which eroded the soil or if there was a great body of water that was drained after people came up from underground through a reed, dug drainage (San Jose River) and then plopped down the monuments so watch over everyone.
Our day ended at Four Corners monument – 20 minutes before closing (another Navajo Tribal Park). The fee booth employee had already called it a day so we didn’t have to pay. We were the only visitors. There were a couple of vendors packing up their wares but it seems that there are very few stalls occupied in November. The kids danced around and took silly photos of themselves. Scarlet and I did the backbend thing. My picture was immediately erased – the struggle was just too apparent.