Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mexican Hat, Monument Valley and in Between.

The most southern region of San Juan County has a few tricks up its sleeve weather wise.  After you've driven through Bluff and awed at the snow outlining the Comb Ridge; Mexican Hat is a whole other story.  Snow?  What's that, the formation is asking.  It might be cloudy, sunny or bit of both; but snow, or any trace of it, will be hard put to find.

Design in the walls, and on Navajo weavings, is called "The Great Serpent".  Legend says that he lives within the walls and protects the land of this area. 

Valley of the Gods is a wondrous place, a miniature version of Monument Valley, and the 17 miles of gravel covered, roller coaster like, road is worth the trip.  Along Route 163 though are two formations which I finally discovered the names of, "Coyote's Misstep" and "The Birthday Cake".   The "cake" is named by locals simply because it does look like a square tiered birthday cake.  However, the smaller of the formations has a legend attached to it.  Coyote one day caught his cousin, Badger, fooling around with his mate.  He chased him, up onto a ridge, but Badger was able to get away.  Coyote became so furious that he kicked at the earth below his feet so hard, he knocked a piece of the ridge miles out to what is now Route 163.

Coyote's Misstep (fore front), Birthday Cake (right corner of photo))

The open space on the ridge and the formation on the roadway looks to align almost perfectly.

 Route 261, the road to Goosenecks State Park is not much further on; once you turn onto the road, go one mile for the road to Goosenecks, then it's another 3.5 miles to the entrance.   A maintenance fee is now being charged to visit the park; $5/passenger vehicle, $2/per person for a bus tour, $10/night for camping.   Hurray for me, I finally figured out how to set the panorama function on my camera that it would get the entire three sections of the Goosenecks.  It came out so nice, I'm going to show it to you twice!  These outstanding formations were carved out by the weather and the San Juan River.

Back onto Route 163, the snow begins showing up again as we headed on down to Monument Valley.  The clouds winding throughout the formations gives the, already, mysterious region further mystery.  Rabbit and Bear chase each other through wisps of white, while the King floats upon his Throne.  Like many a person before us, we stopped at "Forrest Gump Hill"; this is the location in the movie where Forrest finally decides to stop running.  Even this movie character was blown away by the awesomeness of Monument Valley.

No matter the weather, time of day, or season; San Juan County will always keep you on your toes with surprise after surprise.  Make sure to keep all your senses open!

Mary Cokenour

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