Day 5 – Williams, Arizona – Grand Canyon – Monument Valley – Blanding, Utah (310 miles)

by tailored on November 24, 2011

This was one of the day we were really looking forward to.

The plan was to head to the Grand Canyon and then see if we could enjoy Monument Valley the same day.

It was off on an early start out of Williams, Arizona heading up Highway 180 to Grand Canyon Village, firstly through forest and then desert highway.

Really no traffic to speak of and the roads were smooth and straight.

We weren’t sure how to view the Canyon so headed into the National Park ($15 each) and parked the bike in the car park.

From there you jump on one of the many buses that does the loop around the south east side of the Canyon.

You get dropped off at one section of the Canyon and then, once you’ve taken in the views, head to the bus stop to get picked up by the next bus passing by.

It’s all free and part of the entry.

The Grand Canyon is one of those places that doesn’t fail to amaze.

It’s just so bloody huge that you’re in awe.  A really incredible place.

Brendon & Harry Grand Canyon

On top of the world - Grand Canyon 2011

Brendon Sinclair - Grand Canyon 2011

I try and look serious - Grand Canyon 2011

A few hours later we headed out of the Canyon and along Highway 64 to Tuba City.

As you head out of the Village you drive right beside the Canyon and see many views that are as good, or better, than the views you saw inside the Village.

We pulled over a couple of times for more of a look and a few photo opportunities.

Harry Sinclair enjoys east end of the Grand Canyon

Harry enjoys east end of the Grand Canyon

Then it was onto Monument Valley.

Mostly, there’s not a lot to see, but the pure expanse of desert is view enough as you wonder what would have encouraged early settlers to think they could eke out an existence here.

You leave the 160 and head left into Kayenta on the 163 and the very start of Monument Valley.

Sure, you’re miles away yet, but you get an inkling of the majesty of the view you’re about to experience.

It’s as if the whole area knows what’s coming up and slowly gives you breath-taking scenery as you go along.

Sure, you pass through a few pretty dilapidated areas, but nothing really detracts from the natural beauty of the pure nothingness around you punctuated by monuments rising from nothing into the desert sky.

You just wonder how the hell this stuff happens.

Into Monument Valley

Then it was into the Valley itself.

With giant rock formations rising up.

They’re familiar because of every Western I’ve ever seen using them  as a backdrop.

At the same time it’s the very first time you’ve seen them because you can’t really believe your eyes.

Into Moument Valley

The view into Moument Valley

We had the happy accident of riding in as the sun was settings, casting long shadows as we rode through.

The light played off the monuments and made them appear alive.

It was an eerie view.  A magnificent view.

Lots Of Different Views To Enjoy

We took our time along the road and took in different views – all enjoyable, all unique.

It was then on the great desert highway that’s the 163 to Mexican Hat, a tiny town with a few buildings scattered about – including some accommodation.

It’s a few miles out of town on the brown desert plains and hills that you see the unique rock formation the town is named after.

More rich brown desert views awaited us along the US-163 Scenic as we rode first to the town of Bluff.

It was getting dark by this stage and we were low on fuel, but we had enough to get to Blanding, Utah.  So we pushed on – with 30 miles to go the Fuel Gauge hit ‘Low’ and told me we had enough fuel for 40 miles.

No problem.

A few minutes later we had 28 miles to go and the Fuel Guage said we had 32 miles to go.

By the time we had 20 miles to go, the Fuel Gauge told me we had 4 miles of gas left.

Oooh, this could be interesting – another night in the desert by the side of the road!

We kept pushing on and, about 8 miles out of Blanding we came across a closed Gas Station – no problem as it has, like they all do, the ability to pay at the pump.

Whilst this one knocked back my credit card because it wanted a 5 digit zip code of my bill mailing address as the usual extra verification, my ANZ Travel Cash card worked (that worked about 50% of the time).

Off to the beautifully named Blanding – a small town in Utah with not a lot happening.

With it being Thanksgiving there weren’t any cafes or restaurants open and we ‘enjoyed’ a pizza from the Gas Station a few doors up from the hotel.

We reflected on the amazing views we’d seen today – without question, some of the best view I’ve ever seen.


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