FORREST GUMP SITE, MONUMENT VALLEY, JOHN WAYNE MUSEUM, GOULDINGS TRADING POST
Today you will see where Forrest Gump said during his run, “I’m pretty tired, I think I’ll go home now”, as you pass through the long straight highway leading to Monument Valley.
If you take the scenic route through Mexican Hat you will see Mexican Hat Rock, an amazing balanced rock that appears to be a 200 ton Mexican sombrero balanced on a rock appearing as a head and shoulders. This area was also used as the town and area of Radiator Springs in the movie “Cars” Part of Monument Valley’s charm is its remoteness, about 60 miles west of the zero -dimensional Utah– New Mexico border on Highway 163. Four Corners National Monument is located there. If you have time you may want to include this in your day.
In Monument Valley there is a 14-mile graded dirt road will show you around most of the major monuments (The Mittens, Three Sisters, John Ford’s Point, Totem Pole, Yei Bi Chai, Ear of the Wind), and Navajo guides can lead you deeper, into Mystery Valley, Hunts Mesa and more. A handful of outfits will show you through the area on horseback, just the way people have been exploring it for hundreds of years. A dozen hikes (mostly easy with a few that get tricky) lead to natural bridges and a wealth of Anasazi ruins. Information is available at the visitor’s center at the entrance to the park.
It is estimated that the Navajo culture began around 1581. Today Navajo many still live in and around the 16-million-acre Navajo Nation Area. Monument Valley is a window into the Navajo culture. Explore their history, their way of life, their cuisine and their art. You can even take a little home in the form of handmade jewelry or a dyed wool rug.
Many westerns were filmed in the Monument Valley area. Starting with Stagecoach, starring John Wayne with many others movies to follow. More than 150 have been made in the Monument Valley and Canyonlands area. Many of these set the stage for how the west was seen.
The John Wayne Museum is located behind Gouldings Trading Post. The museum is as small cabin that was actually John Wayne’s cabin in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Stop by to learn more.