Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Hog Canyon Travel Guide.

Hog Canyon, so named for the pigs that ranchers once pastured there, is part of the Indian Creek Valley; and the northern section of the Bears Ears National Monument.  While narrow hiking trails lead up to the walls that are popular with “Crack Climbers”, ancient ancestral rock art cover the walls as well.  Carvings and drawings adorn the desert varnish with humanoid figures, animals, insects, fern leaves, circles and many other shapes.

·         Location is 29.4 miles northwest of Monticello.  Take Hwy. 191 north for 14.4 miles, make a left onto Hwy. 211 and continue for 15 miles.  Newspaper Rock is 12 miles along Hwy. 211, Hog Canyon is located 3 additional miles west and located at mile marker 4.  There will be a dirt pull-in area on the right hand side of the roadway; narrow trails up to the rock face can be seen and followed up to the rock art.

·        Difficulty: Easy to Moderate; due to the falling of rock off the walls, it will be necessary to maneuver around, or climb over, boulders.  The dirt is loose on the trails, so wear appropriate hiking shoes/boots plus carry a walking stick, if necessary, for added stability.

·        Admission: Free

·        Facilities: None at this location.  Vault toilets are located at Newspaper Rock.  Any trash should be taken out and placed in refuse bin.

·        Camping: There are five (5) BLM campgrounds located along Hwy. 211

·        Pets: Allowed, owners are expected to clean up after pet(s).  Hwy. 211 is a much used roadway which leads to Canyonlands National Park– Needles.  For the pet(s)’s safety, keep aware of their location and surroundings.

As with any site containing ancient rock art, this is a historical area, so look, but do not touch nor deface.

Mary Cokenour

Friday, September 13, 2019

16 Room Cliff House Travel Guide.

16 Room House, aka 15 or 17 Room House (disagreement among archaeologists on the correct number of rooms in the pueblo), is an Anasazi cliff dwelling stretching across a massive alcove.  Windows within the rooms look down upon land that may have been used for farming, and the San Juan River.  Pictographs on the walls contain a large number of hand prints.

·         Location from Monticello is 107 miles using CR 441 route, or 111.1 miles using CR 438 route. Travel 58.1 miles along Hwy 191 (make a left turn at the junction of Hwy 191/163 to continue on Hwy 191).  This area is Navajo Reservation land, please remember to stay on designated roads and do not trespass onto private lands. There are two ways to get to 16 Room House, County Road 441 (maintained dirt/gravel road) for 6.9 miles to the junction of County Road 438, then 4.8 miles along CR 438 (maintained dirt/gravel road this section only) to the ruin site.  Or continue down Hwy 191 for three (3) additional miles to County Road 438 which is paved for eight (8) miles before the junction with CR 441, then continue the 4.8 miles to the ruin site.

This altered map is from an original from gjhikes.com

·         Admission: Free

·         Difficulty: Trail up to ruin site is extremely steep and narrow before a narrow ledge to enter the various rooms along the alcove.

·         Camping: Not Allowed

·         Pets: Not Allowed

·         Facilities: None, nearest town (Bluff) is 25.1 miles.

We spent several hours exploring the ruins and taking the short trail down to the San Juan River.

Mary Cokenour 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Monument Valley At Any Time.

Monument Valley , for the majority of residents, and visitors to the area, is an awe inspiring destination; one of those "must experience" places.  It's span is over two states: Arizona and Utah; in Utah, it is part of the largest county in the state, San Juan.

During the spring and fall equinox, the shadow of one Mitten forms atop the second Mitten.  It's a big deal and hundreds flock to the Valley to witness the event.  Yes, even Roy and I have done it; along with a couple of friends, and it's really like a party atmosphere.  Then we ride over to Goulding's Lodge, and the Stagecoach Dining Room, for a great meal.

The photos I'll be sharing were taken during the day and at sunset; sunny sky to cloudy.  One photo of Eagle Rock-Eagle Mesa even has the hint of a rainbow after a short rain storm.  While many of the monuments can be seen from Hwy. 163, I do advise to not be cheap.  Either go into the Tribal Park itself and find a tour guide; or go to Goulding's Lodge and sign up for one of their 3 hour, or all day, tours.  This way you will see monuments up close and personal that are not seen from the highway, ruins, rock art, and the way the Navajo people live in this area.

Sort of funny story time:  I was working at the local visitor center and a woman from Belgium came in.  She had visited Monument Valley and was quite disappointed.  Why, you wonder?  She had seen the Johnny Depp movie, The Lone Ranger, which had much of it filmed within Monument Valley.  Here she was, on vacation, and nowhere could she see, "Where the Indians really lived".  She complained that there were "real houses" down in the Valley, "Where were the teepees!?!"  The people wore clothing like any other person, "Why weren't they in real Indian clothes; the men wearing loin cloths!?!"

I explained that the film was geared towards the late 19th century (1880s) to early 20th century.  The Native Americans were just like anyone else...people.  They lived in houses like anyone else; wore clothing like anyone else; they were like...anyone else.  Unfortunately this didn't make her any happier as now she felt that she had watched a movie that, sort of, lied to her about the southwest.  So there you have it folks, the USA, or parts of it, is perceived dependent on the film created by Hollywood.

When you go to Monument Valley, visit the museum at the Tribal Park's visitor center to get a true history lesson.  Better yet, go on one of the tours led by residents of Monument Valley; get an up close and personal history lesson about the Navajo culture.

Oh, speaking of films, I am including a film that I took as we traveled to and through the Valley.  Originally it was 13 minutes long, but hubby, who owns Desert Stone Studio , was able to cut it down to a more manageable length of time for viewing pleasure.  Basically you'll get a gist of what you'll be seeing as you make the drive along Highway 163.

Enjoy the journey!

Mary Cokenour

Monument Valley Photographs

Eagle Rock - Eagle Mesa, rainbow after rain storm

Eagle Rock - Eagle Mesa

The Mittens and Merrick Butte - As Sunset Progresses Over a 10 Minute Span

Sentinel Mesa and Big Indian Butte
 View from Goulding's Lodge

Agathla Peak - Arizona side of Monument Valley, along Hwy. 163
Video - Monument Valley Via Hwy. 163

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Recapture Pocket, or San Juan County's Hoodoo Park, Travel Guide.

Recapture Pocket is an area of badlands near Bluff, Utah; like Goblin Valley, it is a sand filled landscape with hoodoos of all shapes and sizes.

·        Location is 54.1 miles from Monticello; travel 45.9 miles along Hwy 191 to the junction of Hwy 162 in Bluff (Cow Canyon Trading Post on SE corner).  Start at the Trading Post to be able to get to the 4.9 mile mark, not at the sign that says “Mile 0”.  The road to make a left on has 2 names when looking at an area map (CR 2401 and CR 217), there will be a yellow “cow sign” with a “cattle crossing” sign underneath it, make the immediate left.  If a 2nd cow and cattle crossing sign are passed, you have gone too far.  After the initial left turn, there will be a split 9/10ths of a mile in, take the left hand split and go 4/10ths of a mile.  Make a right turn onto CR 249 (Bluff Bench); another split will be reached at 7/10ths of a mile, go left again.  Hoodoos (unusual sandstone formations) will be seen, but it will be 1.3 miles before Recapture Pocket itself is reached.

·         Admission: Free

·         Difficulty: Hiking – Easy; Vehicle: This area is completely desert terrain; 4-wheel drive vehicles will need high clearance due to deep dips on sandy trails and some travel over rocky ground.

·         Camping: Yes; pack out what is packed in.

·         Facilities: None; nearest town (Bluff) is 8.2 miles.

·         Pets: Allowed, owners are expected to clean up after pet (s).

·         Caution: Flash flooding will occur over roads during long and/or torrential rainstorms; once water recedes, sandy trails will be extremely muddy.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, September 9, 2019

Pioneer's Travel Guide to River House Ruin.

River House Ruin/Rincone Trading Post/San Juan Hill Via the Pioneer Trail

River House Ruin is located near the San Juan River on the west side of Comb Ridge. The ruin has multiple one and two story rooms, granaries, a kiva, petroglyphs and pictographs.  

Location from Monticello is 58.6 miles; travel 50.7 miles south along Hwy 191, continue on Hwy 163 for 3.1 miles which goes through the Comb Ridge pass.  ¼ of a mile, make the first left onto County Road 2351.

CR 2351 is part of the Hole in the Rock Pioneer Trail and the attempt to find a way over the Comb Ridge.  The entire trail is mainly sand, crossing into and out of several dry washes, and climbing several steep hills for almost four miles.  There are green wooden posts with a covered wagon painted on to mark the trail.

The first informational board is a short history of this section of the pioneer trail; the second will tell which way to go when encountering the first fork in the road; go left and follow the curve around the bushes.  4/10ths of a mile down is Navajo Spring; the pioneers sent out scouts to see if this was a viable way up and over Comb Ridge.  

4 miles is another divide in the trail; the one to the right leads down to the San Juan River and ends.  The trail left turns into pure stone; a series of uneven "steps" upward that leads to the San Juan Hill, Rincone Trading Post and River House Ruins trails.

Total Mileage: 4 miles to the trailheads for River House Ruin, Rincone Trading Post and San Juan Hill.

Total Mileage to River House Ruin is 4 miles.   

Difficulty: Easy for Hiking; Vehicle: 4-wheel drive with high clearance is a must; independent 4-wheel suspension is suggested for the uneven “steps” leading to the trailheads. 

Admission: Free

Camping: Allowed; pack out what has been packed in.

Pets: Allowed; owners are expected to clean up after pet (s).

Facilities: None; nearest town (Bluff) is 12.4 miles.

Rincone Trading Post was established in 1880 by William Hyde, he later partnered up with the Bartons.  Read the interesting history pertaining to the Rincone in the book, Comb Ridge and its People, by Robert S. McPherson.

Location is two (2) miles along the trail to River House Ruin.

San Juan Hill is the location the pioneers finally chose to move their wagon train upward and over the Comb Ridge.  Wagon wheel tracks and chiseled foot holds for animals can still be seen on this very steep, rocky trail.

Location of trailhead is 1.5 miles along trail to River House Ruin.

Bring lots of water, snacks and a picnic; this is an all day excursion and worth every moment.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Natural Bridges National Monument Travel Guide.

Declared a National Monument in 1908, there are three (3) naturally made bridges (often referred to as arches) & a ruin site. The bridges are named "Kachina," "Owachomo" and "Sipapu" in honor of the Native Americans that once made this area their home.  Horse Collar Ruin is one of the best-preserved ancestral Puebloan sites in the area and was named after two structures with doorways that resemble horse collars.




·        Location is 24.6 miles south from Monticello & through Blanding (make left at traffic signal to continue on Hwy 191), 30.2 miles west along State Hwy 95 to UT-275 turn off for Natural Bridges; 6.7 miles to monument entrance. (total mileage = 61.5 miles from Monticello).

·        All bridges and the ruin site have overlooks via a concrete pathway, minimum time is one (1) hour to see all from the overlooks.  Visitors can hike to Horse Collar Ruin, but should respect heritage and policy by not touching or entering the ruins. 

Horse Collar Ruin

·        The Monument is open 24/7, year round; the Visitor Center is open year round, Mon – Sun, 9am-5pm (except Thanksgiving Day, December 25th & January 1st); restrooms & drinking fountain at Visitor Center only.

·        Admission: Yes (credit card preferred). Admission to Natural Bridges National Monument is  valid for seven days. Annual & Lifetime passes can be purchased & used.

·         Camping – 13 sites; first come/first serve only; no water available.

·        Pets only allowed in parking areas, paved roadway, and camp sites.  They must be leashed and are not allowed on trails or in the visitor center.  Owners are expected to pick up after their pet(s).

·      Website:  https://www.nps.gov/nabr/

·        Phone: (435) 692-1234 Ext. 16

Those with walking restrictions, or using a wheelchair, can still enjoy this National Monument.

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Monument Valley Travel Guide.

 Monument Valley 

Monument Valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 ft., framed by scenic clouds casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations, providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.  The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size. Miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees, and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley, surround the fragile pinnacles of rock. All of this harmoniously combines to make Monument Valley a truly wondrous experience.

·        Location from Monticello is 91.6 miles along Hwy 191 which changes to Hwy 163 after leaving the Bluff area.  At the crossroads within Monument Valley, make a left to access the Tribal Park; it is 5.8 miles to the Visitor Center.  

Gouldings Lodge is a right hand turn at the crossroads; featuring lodging, campground, John Wayne Museum, Gouldings Home/Trading Post Museum/Stagecoach Dining Room/Tours and much more.

Monument Valley Tribal Park


Per Vehicle Pass: $20 per non-commercial vehicle up to 4 people ($6 each additional passenger)

Per Individual Pass: $10 per walk-in, bicycle, or motorcycle

Commercial Pass: (based on capacity of vehicle)
1-4 Passengers: $35 (additional $6 each)
5-15 Passengers: $100
15-25 Passengers: $125
26+ Passengers: $300

*General Admission Passes do not include Backcountry Permits. If you wish to hike and/or camp beyond the park, you must purchase a permit before entering. Backcountry Permits are for hiking and camping on designated trails and campgrounds. If you are caught hiking or camping without a Backcountry Permit, or in unauthorized territory, additional fees will apply.

Visitor Center Hours of Operation

April 1 – September 30 (Peak Season): 6 a.m. – 8 p.m., 7 days a week
October 1 – March 30 (Off Season): 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., 7 days a week
CLOSED: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day

*Navajo Nation honors Daylight Savings Time, DST

Please abide by all Navajo Nation Laws

All areas on the Navajo Nation are closed to non-Navajos unless you have a valid pass or permit issued by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department or other delegated tribal authority. Failure to have a permit is considered trespassing on a Federal Indian Reservation.

DO NOT desecrate Navajo lands and violate the trust of the Navajo people by discarding cremated human remains on tribal lands. Please respect our tribal beliefs.

NO ROCK CLIMBING on Navajo Land. Please abide by the humble religious requests of the Navajo people and do not climb the Monuments. “Navajo law will be strictly enforced on this issue,” Parks Department Manager. 


Our Mission is to protect, preserve and manage tribal parks, monuments and recreation areas for the perpetual enjoyment and benefit of the Navajo Nation – the spectacular landscapes, buttes, canyons, clean air, diversity of plants and wildlife, and areas of beauty and solitude.

Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation

Land Department/Parks & Recreation
48 West Taylor Rd., Bldg. #8966, Hwy 264
St. Michaels, Arizona 86515

Phone: (928) 871-6647
Email: ltsinijinnie@navajonationpark.org
Website: https://navajonationparks.org/

Monument Valley is the mecca for Hollywood films, commercials, television series scenes.  Once you experience this wondrous area of the 4 Corners region, you will never forget it.

Mary Cokenour