Southern Utah is a favorite region for us because of superb scenery and interesting cultures. This week we visited an old favorite, Moab, and a new favorite, Monument Valley. You may not have physically been to either, but you’ve been there in movies, TV shows, and commercials.
We have visited Moab several times and have wandered Arches and Canyonlands National Parks quite extensively. Randy went into Arches one afternoon and hiked to Delicate Arch but we also did some new things!
We enjoyed a Canyonlands Sunset Cruise with Rory – one of the most engaging tour guide boat captains we have ever experienced.
We saw people brave enough to climb these steep cliffs – 65% of climbers are female!
We saw jug arch, petroglyphs and amazing scenery. Dinner was pretty good too.
By truck, we traveled the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway out of Moab through more marvelous scenery. The first few miles out of Moab have an adjacent bike trail.
We hiked a bit and saw some climbers way up on this rock!
We traveled to Red Cliffs Ranch Lodge and the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage. We learned more than 120 movies were filmed in this area. Former owner of the site, George White, was instrumental in bringing the first movie, Wagonmaster, to the area in 1949.
Many movies, TV shows and commercials were filmed on White Ranch and the surrounding area. White worked for the Utah Highway Department and was instrumental in finding locations for film crews. He was also the founder of the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission, the longest tenured movie commission in the world.
The film industry has been a source of income in the Moab area for many years as locals are hired as actors, extras and professional crew. Animals and trainers are also employed. An auto tour allows you to find specific locations for movies and shows.
Movies, TV shows and commercials continue to be a lucrative industry for both Moab and Monument Valley. The movie industry came to Monument Valley during the great depression. Harry Goulding, owner of the local trading post, sought additional industry for himself and the Navajo people and spent his last $60 to take landscape pictures to John Ford in Hollywood. The rest is history.
Harry Goulding and his wife “Mike” came to the area in the 1920s, established their trading post and lived and worked with the Navajo for the next 40 years. Although deceased, both are still remembered fondly by local Navajo. The new owners of the Gouldings enterprise value the past.
The immediate area holds a lodge, gift shop, grocery store, restaurant, theater, gas station, chapel and campground – all under the name of Gouldings.
We had one of the nicest sites in this campground and enjoyed some easy and accessible hiking within walking distance.
Although we have a view of Monument Valley from our campsite, we wanted to see more. Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park and some areas are publicly available with an entrance fee. Other areas are available only with a Navajo guide. We opted for the whole experience and are very glad we did!
We saw arches and wild horses and hogans.
The beauty of this area isn’t exclusive to Monument Valley. We found two other areas that especially appealed to us.
Goosenecks State Park has dry camping right on the bluff overlooking the river. Some sites are worth not having hook-ups for. Maybe next time!
Southern Utah NEVER disappoints!