In the Navajo Nation Territory

Anna and her sons tell of their experience of Horseshoe Bend and Monument Valley

In the Navajo Nation Territory
Monument Valley, the iconic Mittens Rocks

Anna, the Mom

After we visited the Grand Canyon on the East side, the next place on our list was Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bent. We reluctantly canceled our reservation for the Antelope Canyon a day before going there when we learned that through the two-hour guided experience in the Canyon we would have to wear masks. Covid restrictions in the Navajo Nation Territory were the strictest we encountered throughout all our road trip in the month of May, 2022.  With Antelope Canyon scraped from our list, we decided to visit Monument Valley instead, where we could opt for a self-guided tour in our car and not wear any mask outdoors.

The Horseshoe Bent

The Horseshoe Bent is part of the East Rim of The Grand Canyon. It is a horseshoe shaped meander of the Colorado River around a really tall cliff. The overlook is 4,200 feet (ca. 1,280 meters) above the sea level and the Colorado River is about 3,200 feet (ca. 975 m) above sea level making it a 1,000 feet (ca. 305 meters) drop. The trail to this attraction is a 1.5mile (2.41 km) round trip from the parking lot.

The Horseshoe Bend

Going towards the Horseshoe Bent was fun, the landscape is interesting to see, rocky and red. The rocks carved in fascinating wavy shapes, out of this world, as if tidal waves of rock have been frozen forever in one place.  

Around the Bend

When we got to the overlook, the sight was overwhelming. I didn't expect it to be so spectacular. The rock standing in the way of the Colorado River making it bend in that horseshoe curve is gigantic, making the bend look even more dramatic. It looked as if once, the river was even deeper and larger, and now it dried up and sank deeper into the crust of the Earth, revealing its almost empty bed.

Down at the base of the rock, we could spot a few boats that were anchored on the shore of the river. They looked like fleas from up where we were.

Can you see the boats by the shore of the river? They look tiny, you might want to zoom in more to see them. They are a good indicator to the proportions. 

The turquoise water of the Colorado River in the red-pink rocky bed of the canyon basking in the mellow light of the morning was a sight I will forever treasure in my heart.

There's not much to do at this attraction, many were leaving the security of the railing and were hiking the out of this world shaped rocks around the overlook, hoping to capture a better picture of the river. I tried to find a different perspective myself, but the one offered by the overlook is the best place for a photo, as you see both curves at the extremities of the horseshoe. Nevertheless, it is a good idea of finding a spot away from the overlook which tends to be a bit crowded and just sit and take in the beauty of scenery.

Tidal waves shaped red rocks. 

The Monument Valley

When I was younger, I used to watch Westerns, and I remember clearly a background of the rocks in Monument Valley in at least one of them. They looked so surreal to me, I never thought that they truly existed. I never thought back then that I would get to see them face to face.

Sand rose in the air because of the high winds that day. 

The Park can be explored by car on a dirt road—there are guided tours on which people had to wear masks, even though the vehicles they used had an open roof. You can also hike, but only in the places designated by the Park Administration.

Stretching our legs

I enjoyed visiting this park. We couldn't go very fast with the car because of the dirt road, and we wanted to avoid as much as possible causing red dust to go up in the air for the people driving behind us. But that didn't bother me, as I had more time to enjoy the scenery thoroughly. From time to time, we could stop and take pictures and just enjoy this strange place.

The cars on the road, so small compared to the gigantic rock behind 

The large rock formations are just outstanding, standing tall as giant guards of the overall flat ground all around them. The flatness of the land contrasting these massive, tall rocks is overwhelming to behold. Everything is dry, red, and flat, dotted with extremely tall rocks that seem to have sprung out of the ground pushed by some strange force underneath. Out of this world.

Spring flowers in Monument Valley

Mihai, 14

Horseshoe Bend is a part of the Grand Canyon. This is an area where the Colorado River loops around a gigantic block of stone, creating a horseshoe-looking bend in the river, hence the name.

When we got there, we had to hike a bit from the parking lot to get to the edge of the cliff from which we could see the bend, and it was terrifying. You could just imagine the sick amount of time it would take to hit the water, and even what would happen once you did.

Selfie at the overlook

We even saw some people camping at the bottom of the cliff, next to the horseshoe-shaped river bend, under the monolith hanging over it.


We also went to Monument Valley, and OH BOY, OH BOY, OH BOY, I still have PTSD from that place. When we got the tickets for Monument Valley, we first stopped at the visitor center to use the loo (there aren't any more places for that purpose in the valley).

Monument Valley visitor center

What do we see when we get to the entrance of the visitor center? A sign informing all travelers that they have to wear masks! First, I thought that the sign was outdated, and we didn't really have to, oh but no… When we got inside, we found out the terrible, terrible truth. THE MASKS WERE REQUIRED!

Well, we decided not to go into any buildings, so we didn't need masks, and got in the car and on the road. The road wasn't so great… In fact, you could call it terrible. In fact, you could speculate that they replaced the original road with one that had recently been carpet bombed (not really).

However, we didn't come here to admire the roads or, umm, go inside buildings, no, we came here to admire the monoliths, and maybe hike a bit. When we reached the first stop, we found a series of signs. They were rules to follow, and one of the rules was… NO HIKING. -sigh. Oh well, we tried. Nearby was another sign reading:

A place where we could hike a bit.
Please Obey All Signs


Anyways, the monoliths were what we came here to see, so we admired the massive cliffs. There were some shaped like giant mittens, and others which were less… defined. Like one named the Three Sisters, which looked more like three giant rocks. Just standing on their ends. WHO NAMED THESE ROCKS???

Three Sisters rock formation

We drove along the carpet-bombed half gravel road and looked at the gigantic monoliths in the distance. Later, we stopped at a place where we saw a few horses. One kicked another, but we didn't manage to catch it on camera.

The mother horse kicking anyone trying to get close to the baby. Didn't manage to get the kick on camera. 

When we went back, we found a person with a bulldozer scraping away at the gravel road. Nice.

Horseshoe Bend and the Monuments are:

The steep walls of the cliffside at Horseshoe Bend;
The river thundering at the bottom of the canyon, a sound we could barely hear;
The dry dust covering Monument Valley;
The stench of the mask I had to wear at the bathroom, at least they have one purpose: replacing the bathroom odor with mask stench.
The Mitten Rocks towering over the dry desert landscape.

I would go again to camp at the bottom of Horseshoe Bend.

Paul, 11

This part of the Grand Canyon houses something truly wonderful, a giant monolith of rock that looms over the river as it winds its way into a bend that looks like a horseshoe. When we arrived there, we went on the trail which led to an overview of the giant rock. When I looked over the edge of the railing that was barely holding me away from death, I observed a camp at the base of the rock. I wanted to go down there, but there were only two ways to go down, 1. By falling 2. By falling and using a parachute. When I looked down the precipice my whole life flashed before my eyes then I stumbled backwards hoping that the rock I was standing on wouldn't tumble off the side of the cliff dashing me on the wall.  

Chilling near the precipice at Horseshoe Bend

After this near-death experience, we drove to monument valley. This “Tribal Park,” has many giant monoliths of stone standing high over all. Like the towering monoliths above them, the Indian laws were also frozen in time, and you had to wear a mask at all times when inside buildings. We also had to deal with the numerous signs that kept saying that you should obey all the other signs. This in turn gave me anger issues and until now, when I see one I instantly try burning it down (this is all a joke, by the way). My favorite of the monoliths were the Mittens. They looked like giant gloves that would fit quite snugly on someone with a finger size of a skyscraper.  

There are Navajo Indians living in the park. This big rock looks like a hand. 

I would go again to Monolith Valley to try to climb one of the Mittens.

The Horseshoe Bend and The Monument Valley are:

The translucent waters of the river encircling the Horseshoe Bend;
The large monoliths frozen forever in time just like the Indian laws;  
The wind pushing me closer to my fear of falling into the precipice at the Horseshoe Bend;
The Mittens standing tall and warm in the balzing heat of Arizona;
The gravel road of the Tribal Park ever making crunching sounds.