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Albuquerque to Painted Desert to Gouldings Monument Valley for evening--is this nuts?

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Jul 17th, 2000, 12:10 PM
  #1
Ruth
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Albuquerque to Painted Desert to Gouldings Monument Valley for evening--is this nuts?

We will be in the Southwest in October. Due to the lodging reservations I have been able to get so far, I am considering leaving Albuquerque on a Sunday morning, driving through the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest and then up to Monument Valley where we have a reservation at Goulding's lodge for the night. Is this completely insane? We are constrained by not being able to get reservations at Gouldings on other nights and so many posters have raved about staying there that I'd hate to substitute Kayenta or Mexican Hat. We also also constrained by having reservations at Mesa Verde on Tuesday & Wednesday and having to be in Santa Fe on Thursday to meet friends. Any input or suggestions are welcome.
 
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Jul 17th, 2000, 01:54 PM
  #2
Bob Brown
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I don't think you attempting anything that cannot be done with an early start.
The times I see listed on the AAA maps can be beaten fairly easily. The only suggestion I wuold make is to turn north before you drive as far west as Flagstaff unless you just want to go by Sunset Crater and Wupatki. (I was there this past May and I would rate them as minor attractions.) You could turn north on Arizona route 77 and Navajo 6 until you intersect with Arizona 264.
Take that route to Moenkopi. There turn northeast on US 160. When 160 meets US 163 turn north for the main part of
Monument Valley.
I suggest NOT taking the route north from Flagstaff, US 89, because it is crowded and often on a weekend there are many vehicles pulling boats to and from Lake Powell as well as the usual flow to and from the Grand Canyon.
I'm curious; why the urge to see the Painted Desert? There are plenty of colorful rock formations in that part of the world. I never thought it was anything special.
 
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Jul 17th, 2000, 02:46 PM
  #3
CMcDaniel
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Ruth...I hope you aren't disappointed with Gouldings. It is a nicely appointed motel, no more, no less, but situated in a spectacular location. The view is the thing, and if your schedule dictates less travel but staying in Kayenta, I surely would not hesitate to do so.

After reading Fodors description of Gouldings we were very disappointed in what we found. Not that it wasn't a decent motel, it was that and more, just didn't live up to its billing, at all. Both meals, dinner and breakfast, at their restaurant were about the worst we've ever paid for, (i.e. I didn't make gt;) and none of us are picky eaters.

That said, the view from each room is spectacular. If you do stay, be sure to rise just before sunrise and have camera and plenty of film ready. We used better than 1/2 a roll on that alone! Like the Canyon, you can easily over-do some shots, get home and wonder just why you needed so many.... gt;
 
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Jul 17th, 2000, 03:01 PM
  #4
Karen
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The reason most of us recommend Gouldings is because of the location. No other lodge/motel is closer and when distances are so great, this is definitely a consideration. I would not stay anywhere else if I wanted to see Monument Valley, and, yes, the food is mediocre, the same as you will find at most of the other Indian motels. The restaurants in Kayenta would be much the same or worse.
 
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Jul 17th, 2000, 05:59 PM
  #5
Bob Brown
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The food is a drawback when visiting that area. I opted for a "front seat lunch" of bananas that I peeled myself, bread and "imported" yogurt.
Not the best, but cheap enough and no digestive ailments resulted therefrom, which was the sole objective!!
 
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Jul 17th, 2000, 07:16 PM
  #6
Sara
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We enjoyed our stay at Gouldings - while the accomodations are not exceptional, they are comfortable, and the proximity to the Valley and scenic splendor can't be beat. There's an interesting museum there as well. They also offer a worthwhile guided tour of the valley, although you might be able to do as well with one of the guide services offered at the visitor's center, I don't know what he comparison is. On the subject of food in Kayenta, a little known gem is the Burger King there. Now, the food at Burger King is admittedly nothing special, but this one has the added bonus of being a mini-museum celebrating the Navajo Code Talkers of WW2. It is owned by the son of one of the Code Talkers,and there are very interesting displays of memoribilia, and a lot of informative and educational material about the Code Talkers. We found it fascinating - what we thought would be a boring meal of neccessity turned into a serindipitous find.
 
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Jul 18th, 2000, 04:53 AM
  #7
Ruth
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Thank you all for your help. Bob, I especially appreciated the directions because you sometimes can't tell from the maps whether the roads are good to drive or not and I had been considering the road from Flagstaff. The interest in the Painted Desert goes back to my husband's childhood when his aunts brought him wood from the Petrified Forest, but he may be willing to drop that visit. I have read about the food at Gouldings and do not expect a fabulous room, but am attracted by the descriptions of the views. Thanks again everyone.
 
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Jul 18th, 2000, 09:28 AM
  #8
Bob Brown
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The roads I suggested are not main arteries, but they are paved and less heavily traveled. US 89 north of Flagstaff was not bad when we were there in early June. But on a Saturday, there
were quite a few vehicles pulling boats. US 89 is the main route (only route!)
from that part of Arizona up to Lake Powell. It is also one of two main routes leading to the Grand Canyon, South Rim. Some of that route takes you through the Navajo Nation.
I can see stopping at the Petrified Forest for a look. The Painted Desert is a pretty display of the Chinle Formation, which is comprised of shale, mud stones, silt stones, even some volcanic ash. It is exposed all over that part o the world. Even Capitol Reef has extensive outcroppings of the Chinle.
It takes on many varied hues of red.
I think it is the most spectacular formation in that part of the world, and it covers a very wide area.
Being of Triassic Age, dinosaurs were just getting started good as the dominant species.
 
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Jul 18th, 2000, 09:37 AM
  #9
Ruth
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Bob, where is the Capitol Reef? I'm an easterner and this in only my second trip to the southwest and so there's lots I'm unfamilar with.
 
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Jul 18th, 2000, 03:37 PM
  #10
howard
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Two quick observations:
1. IMO, neither the Petrified Forest nor the Painted Desert are close to my top ten in the Southwest. We found found mildly interesting. I'd strongly recommend Canyon deChelley instead.
2. The ONLY reasons for staying at Gouldings Lodge are its proximity to Monument Valley and the opportunity to have the wonderful experience of sitting on your balcony and watching the sun rise over the monuments.
 
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Jul 18th, 2000, 08:10 PM
  #11
Bob Brown
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Hmm. Georgia where I live borders on the Atlantic Ocean. Does that make me an Easterner too? So lets see now ...

But to answer the question and cease playing logical traps, Capitol Reef National Park is in south-central Utah, north of Bryce Canyon, but south of I 70, just about equi distance between the east and west borders of the state.
Torrey is the closest town, with several very nice motels, like the Wonderland Inn where we stayed. But there are others of equal quality.
The canyons, arches, etc. of Capitol Reef are cut from the same sandstone as Zion, i.e the Navajo Sandstone. In addition, several other formations are exposed there, including the Chinle, the Moenkopi, and the Wingate cliff-builder sandstone.
The park has steep sided canyons, an arch or two, natural bridges, and massive sandstone monoliths. To me, it beats Monument Valley and rivals Zion, and several others.
I think it is not well known for two major reasons: (1) it competes for visitors with Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, and Arches and (2)it is remote despite its proximity to I 70.
 
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Jul 19th, 2000, 05:24 AM
  #12
Karen
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I totally agree with Howard, and always recommend that people do Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly, both spectacular and different from one another. I do not find Painted Desert that interesting, but, the other two just WOW me around every corner.
 
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