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Monument Valley to Winslow

Georgia
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Monument Valley to Winslow

Can anyone comment on the most scenic route from Monument Valley to Winslow? Debating on going via Flagstaff with a stop at the Meteor Crater. Or going the other way through Chinle and maybe doing a rim drive of Canyon de Chelly. Would be leaving Monument Valley after lunch. Thanks in advance!

Edited: 28 May 2011, 01:50
San Francisco
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1. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

Tough choice, both very interesting routes.

I've been to much of the Navajo nation and on both the Tuba City and Chinle routes, and there is a lot to see. Tuba City was named for a Hopi chief, a Mormon convert, who invited all kinds of folks to settle there from several tribes. The town is about 150 years old and has interesting historic buildings.

You needn't go all the way to Flagstaff. At the junction for Tuba City and Moenkopi, you can turn east toward the Hopi nation, which is a small enclave totally surrounded by the Navajo nation. Several Hopi villages are on top of mesas, which were chosen so people could see all around for miles. The Hopi were always a minority and were concerned about security. You can visit the mesas with a Hopi escort, meet residents, buy articles they've made, and see what their villages are like. One of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the U.S., Oraibi village, is one of these Hopi communities.

From the mesas, you can take a state highway down to Winslow. Of course, you won't go to Chinle or Canyon de Chelly.

On the eastern route, you won't pass through Hopi country, but be entirely in Navajo lands. You'll pass the village of Many Farms, Chinle, then Ganado, where you will find the historic Hubbell Trading Post. It was originally run in the 19th century by a Caucasian whose wife was Navajo. It's now under the National Park Service and still functions as a marketplace where local folks can sell their goods. A dear friend of mine once worked for the NPS there, which is how I came to be in that area a few times. When she was there, the current trader was white and his wife was Navajo and he was fluent in the Navajo language, which is very difficult to learn (as the Japanese military found out in WWII when the Navajo Codetalkers were used to send and receive classified info).

If you want to make a short detour off Hwy 191, you can see Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo nation. It's named for a natural rock arch. The Navajo government is like any other, with a president, departments of health, education, justice, its own police force (the heroes of Tony Hillerman's novels), etc.

This route is a little longer than going through Flagstaff. Once you get to Winslow, it's only a few miles farther west to Meteor Crater.

When you visit the tribal areas, be sure to become aware of any courtesies or regulations they ask of visitors, like not going to tribal dances or religious events without invitation, or taking pictures, drawing, or recording people or anything belonging to them without permission. Many believe that an image captures a person's soul; if they do not strictly believe that and let you take a picture, it's customary to give a gratuity.

Either way you pick will be really interesting. I love that area, and even though my friend in Ganado has passed on, I'd love to go back.

Moab, Utah
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2. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

So many choices and as FRR has said, they're all good. However, if we had to make a choice it would be via Canyon de Chelly/Chinle with at least a rim drive but hopefully a little more. The White House Ruin Trail can visited without a guide or prior arrangement and any sort of below the rim experience is exceptional.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

Where are you going from Winslow?

Georgia
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4. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

After Winslow we are going back to Phoenix. Will spend the night there and our flight home is the following morning.

Thanks, FRR for such a long and thoughtful post! I'm leaning toward the Chinle route, but will print this & let the rest of my party read it & get their input. I guess how much we see of Canyon de Chelly would depend on what time we leave MV and how tired we are. This will be near the end of our trip so we may be running out of steam by then. I hadn't really planned anything past Monument Valley - just taking our time making our way back to Phoenix for the journey home. I'm thinking we could do the Meteor Crater the next day before we drive to Phoenix.

Uden, The...
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5. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

The drive from MV Tribal Park to Chinle will take 2 hours (take IR59 between us160 and us191 to Many Farms). To Winslow from Chinle can be done in 2.5 hours if you are a fast driver. From MV to Winslow via Flagstaff app.is 4 hours. South rim drive of Canyon de Chelly to Spider Rock is 19 miles, on your way is the hike to White House as Noel has mentioned. This all will take too much time imo if you start MV "after lunch" and also want to reach Winslow that day. The one place for CdC overlooks I would recommend with limited time is Antelope House Overlook off North rim (az64).

South of Chinle near Ganado is Hubbell Trading Post worth a visit.

You are gaining one hour between the Navajo Reservation and the rest of Arizona because Az doesnot observe daylight saving time except for the Navajo Nation. And yes, you can visit Meteor Crater on you way to Flagstaff if you like. There also is Walnut Canyon NM just east of Flag and Montezuma Castle near Camp Verde but how about Sedona? www.visitsedona.com

Tet

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6. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

I loved the Hubbell Trading Post! So educational and beautiful there. I still dream of having a loom in my living room. :) Experiencing the Navajo Nation was a real treat -- and I live on a reservation! (they are NOT all alike--)

But the time I spent at the Hopi Reservation was magical. The Hopi's are masters at art and the one piece of pottery I bought there (it was all I could afford at the time!) is the standout of my collection.

*Pixie*

Edited: 28 May 2011, 15:06
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7. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

When my friend worked at Hubbell years ago, she lived in a mobile home about a quarter mile outside the gates of the historic site. Once she arranged for me to spend a night in the stone hogan, which (at least at that time) was kept as a guest house for park staff, guests, or visiting scholars or artists. I loved it. It was inside the gate, which was locked at night, so there was no coming and going, car noise, etc. There was a herd of horses, and I got up in the middle of the night to visit them and stargaze.

Ganado isn't huge, but it is a center of tribal life. It has one of the chapter houses, places where tribal government officials have meetings for residents who live in remote areas (the Navajo nation is almost as big as South Carolina in area). Ganado has one of the main hospitals, Sage Memorial. During one of my visits, I went there to try to find someone (another story entirely) and saw crowds of people at the clinic with their kids and older folks. The hantavirus had just emerged as a life-threatening condition in the Southwest and they were understandably worried, and they were there for screening and medical advice. I was struck by how patient and orderly people were. In a similar situation in San Francisco or most big cities, there would be a lot of tension and probably disorderly behavior.

As Pixie said, the Hopi villages are extraordinary to visit. The people are close to nature, and close to their heritage for a couple of reasons: they have always been a minority surrounded by a huge majority (about 7,000 Hopi compared to nearly 200,000 people in the Navajo nation), they are not ethnically related to the Navajo, and they do not have a formal written language so much of their culture is passed on orally and can easily be lost (also, with their general aversion to being photographed or sketched, documentation for the Hopi is thinner than for some other tribes). Being up on the mesas, seeing how they live and being able, like Pixie, to see their artistry and buy a small piece of their pottery, was a grand experience.

You can't go wrong on any route you take from MV to any destination on I-40. Anything you see will be enlightening and full of human interest as well as history and natural beauty.

Georgia
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8. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

Thanks, Tet for reminding me of the time constraints. We could eat lunch at Kayenta to give us a little bit of a head start. Also, coming from that direction we could stop in Holbrook rather than Winslow for the night to save a little bit of time. With that in mind, do you think we would have time to drive to Spider Rock? I would like to see that. Although the Antelope House Overlook looks very enticing also. I think we will skip the hike to White House Ruin. That's the only problem with our visits to the West - there is always "one more thing" I would like to see or do! I swear when we retire I want to take about a month and spend as much time as we want at all these places!

You asked about Sedona - we will have already had a short visit to Sedona at the beginning of our trip. Our "circle tour" is Phoenix, Sedona, Grand Canyon, Page, Monument Valley, Winslow, Phoenix. Sedona is another place hubby & I plan to come back to and spend more time on another trip. This trip is focused more on the activities around Page because our kids were more interested in that area & they have never even seen the Grand Canyon before.

For the drive from Winslow to Phoenix I was thinking of taking 87 just to see a different route than on the way up. Any thoughts on that? We should have plenty of time that day so wouldn't mind backtracking from the Meteor Crater.

Uden, The...
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9. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

Holbrook to Winslow only is 30 minutes so that won't be the problem and La Posada (if you are staying there) is fantastic. Count on 1.5 hours for the drive to Spider Rock, the time you'll need there, and back to 191. Spider Rock is a special place. I hate to say this but lock your car and don't leave valuables in the car. We were warned for that and better safe than sorry.

87 is a nice drive. It gets you through Strawberry and Pine and before Payson is Tonto Natural Bridge SP. www.pr.state.az.us/parks/TONA/index.html The kids probably would like to hike to the river. Too many steps for us but you also can see the bridge from above.

We also found Payson a nice town and maybe have lunch here. Beeline hw between Payson and Scottsdale is very scenic. (I won't mention the detour to Apache Trail (az88) because I think it will take too much time and 20 miles of it are unpaved

The 6 miles drive from I40 to Meteor Crater is paved. Entrance fee is stiff with $15,-- pp but they have elevators to the visitor center and to the lookouts.

Tet

Georgia
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10. Re: Monument Valley to Winslow

Just wanted to let everyone know we did take the Chinle route from MV to Winslow. Unfortunately it was an extremely windy day and the sand was blowing so hard we could barely see the road at times! I guess it is good that this was a driving day & we weren't trying to hike or anything. The kids though it was pretty neat to be in a huge sandstorm for half the day. It was definitely an experience, but I think I would have preferred to see the scenery. We almost didn't stop at Canyon de Chelly because we assumed the sand would be too bad to see it, but I am so glad we gave it a try. As soon as we started the rim drive, we rose up out of the blowing sand - it was still windy, but I guess due to the rocky ground there was no sand to blow. So we got our beautiful view of Spider Rock - awesome! This is indeed a beautiful canyon. We also really enjoyed the White House overlook. South of Chinle the sandstorm got better & better, so the rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. I wish now we had stopped at the Hubbell Trading Post, but everyone was tired & just wanted to press on at that point.

It was interesting in Winslow to see the firefighting planes landing to fill up their tanks for the big fire. But so sad to see the huge smoke cloud on the horizon.

Tet we also enjoyed the drive on 87. We even saw a coyote by the road a few miles before Strawberry! I was surprised how cool & green it is through there. Yes, we thought Payson was a nice town, too. Very scenic drive and I'm glad we did it for a different view on the way to Phoenix.

Thanks again for all the tips!