- Northern California
- Colorado Rockies
- 1 Week in Quebec
- Southeast Coast
- Graduates' XC Trip
- NH Backpacking
- Martha's Vineyard
- Yosemite & Nevada
- Southern Alaska
- Colorado & Utah
- Canadian Maritimes
- Best of Utah
- Southern Loop
- Pacific Northwest
- Midwest & Rockies
- Los Angeles to NYC
- East Coast Trips
- RV Rentals
Monument Valley, UT
Wednesday, August 7, 2002 - 1:00pm by Lolo
112 miles and 2 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay
Since mountain biking is probably my favorite way of truly experiencing a place, I was anxiously anticipating our visit to Monument Valley. While reading Mountain Biking Utah, I discovered that the scenic loop through Monument Valley was actually listed as a relatively easy to moderate bike ride. This was great because I had already learned that RVs were not permitted on the loop.
We checked into Goulding's Monument Valley RV Park and got a great campsite overlooking the red sandstone buttes of Monument Valley. Fortunately for us, the day was a cool 84 degrees, not bad for desert in midsummer. It seemed like the perfect day for a bike ride. In my excitement to get started, I happened to mention our planned bike ride to the campground manager. He looked blankly at me and said, "You're going to bike ride the loop?" Undaunted, we set off in the RV to drive the mile into the Monument Valley Tribal Park.
While paying our entrance fee, we mentioned to the Native American at the entrance gate that we were planning to mountain bike the loop. I should have been concerned when he said he'd never heard of anyone doing that before. He must be new, I thought. The mention of my plan to a woman behind the desk in the Visitor Center brought the same blank stare of confusion. I, however, am a firm believer in the truth of the written word and I had clearly read about this ride in a Mountain Biking Utah guide.
We parked our RV in the lot, unloaded our bikes, and set off on our adventure. The ride started with a sharp 500 foot descent down the sandy washboard road. Although going down was fun, I can't enjoy a downhill with complete abandon when I know that at a later point in the day it will be a tortuous uphill climb. Oh well, I decided not to think about that for now and to just coast on, enjoying the fabulous views.
Ever since our boys were little, we always tried to encourage them to push themselves and go the extra mile so to speak. On bike rides, I would use the promise of something good just around the corner to keep them going. In the past, that has meant just another mile for ice cream or we're almost at the beach, etc. With no amusement parks or ice cream shops in sight, I had to try to tempt them with the roadside sale of Navajo trinkets and the promise that I think we're halfway around the loop by now so turning back isn't going to make it any shorter.
All the while we were pedaling, a constant flow of cars went by, kicking up clouds of the dry red sand. We must have been quite a spectacle because people were waving and cheering us on. I tried to let their cheering drown out the whining which was now coming from my younger son.
Meanwhile, my husband who wants to document these adventures as later proof of our wonderful parenting, is pedalling ahead of us, jumping off his bike, removing his movie camera from his backpack, and filming us riding towards him. He repeated this process about a dozen times throughout our ride. He must have been exhausted.
By the time we finished the ride, we were covered in a thin coat of red sand and probably could have passed for Navajos. No matter what anyone says, I think it was a great ride and the only way I would have wanted to see it. Anyone can drive the loop, but I feel we truly earned it.
Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park that is famous for its red sandstone towers and buttes. The park has a Visitor Center and a 17-mile scenic drive. The self-guided drive begins at the Visitor Center and loops through the valley on a dirt road with many breathtaking overlooks. The road is definitely not meant for RVs. Jeep tours are also available, but quite expensive. There is a campground in the park, as well as one 2 miles away at Goulding Trading Post.
Monument Valley Mountain Biking the Loop
Monument Valley location map in "high definition"