A monumental road trip to Monument Valley
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
If you want to take your kids to a place where the history is as colorful as the landscape, visit the recently opened Native American hotel along the Arizona-Utah border, inside Monument Valley. Talk about a room with a view-every room in The View Hotel faces the towering red rocks featured in old Hollywood westerns.
Directly outside the hotel is the only trail in Monument Valley you can hike without a Navajo guide. It's a relatively easy three-mile walk. If you want to take this experience to the next level, hire a Navajo guide like Carlos, of Simpson's Trailhandler Tours, who drove us into areas of Monument Valley that were off limits without a Navajo guide. He showed us ancient cave drawings and educated us about his culture. At one point he brought out his drum and sang a traditional song that rang out through the canyons.
Want to learn more about Navajo culture? This may be the only time I'm ever going to recommend stopping by a Burger King. The owner of this fast food franchise in Kayenta, just outside Monument Valley, has created his own exhibit honoring the Navajo code talkers of World War II with items collected from his father.
Your kids might also enjoy visiting the Navajo Council Chambers in Window Rock, where you can see the Navajo Nation government in action. Call ahead to make sure the council is in session when you're planning to visit.
A trip to Monument Valley and the Navajo Nation is a great chance to bring history to life for your children and have fun doing it. While this region has starred in many Hollywood movies, it's unknown to most Americans. We're glad that won't be the case for our kids.