Saturday, June 18, 2011

RV Trip Part 3 - Monument Valley to Page

Here was one of the few mis-steps along the way. We had to be in Page by 12.30pm and there was unanimous confusion over what the true time of day was. Arizona is technically in the Mountain Time Zone but does not adjust for daylight savings, hence the confusion. Because we had reservations for a raft trip down the Colorado from Page, we did not want to be late... so we skimped a bit on Monument Valley. We did capture perhaps the quintessential photo of the road disappearing into the red sandstone buttes but did not elect to take the 17 mile drive through the valley. It was here John Ford and John Wayne teamed up for several classic westerns, including The Searchers, which for many is the ultimate of the genre.

Monument Valley, border of AZ and UT

We ended up in Page two hours early and were immediately concerned by the 40 mph wind gusts. Even though the Colorado river is well protected by the canyons, our trip was one for flat water and not the white-water variety. We had good cause for concern - the rafting was cancelled due to the high winds. That allowed some time to tour Page and see the Glen Canyon dam, completed in 1966 and despite it's obvious mammoth dimensions, is not nearly one of the world's largest. Like many dams, it is mired in controversy, miles of spectacular canyon land was flooded once the gates were closed.

We had a few hours to kill before pulling in for the night at the Waheap Campground on the shores of Lake Powell. The Ranger at the dam suggested we tour a slot canyon - narrow deep passageways carved into the rock by the season rivers. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. After paying our fee to the Navajo who own the land and getting directions (there is zero signage for the Water Holes Canyon) we found ourselves alone in a spectacular narrow canyon. The descent was sheer and the footing poor - visions of 127 Hours went through my head. In fact, Canyonlands, where Aron Ralston was forced to hack off his own arm after been trapped by a falling boulder, is only couple of hundred miles northeast of Page.

We walked for what seemed like a few miles, alone except for the lizards and the fantastically colored and shaped rocks. The impact of water and wind on the sandstone is incredible. I can only imagine what the canyon floor is like when rains and a flash floods rage. It was hot down there and by the time we made it out and to Waheap, we were ready to turn in and make the trip to Zion National Park the next day.

Water Holes Canyon, near Page, AZ

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