The original plan for today was to travel to Monument Valley and then on to Mesa Verde tomorrow. However the travelling was so interesting, with continually changing landscapes,that we kept going until we reached Cortez which is a small city 4 miles from Mesa Verde.
As we left the South Rim we had the clearest view of the canyon to date, with very little haze.
Leaving the South Rim we again travelled across the Painted Desert. It is another immense area covered with a variety of different landscapes and almost no vegetation. The colours vary as you travel across it and the size makes it impossible to photograph or fully describe.
Leaving this area we came to some coal and uranium mining areas before entering Monument Valley. When we came over a rise and had this in front of us we knew we were in for a treat.
I have wanted to visit Monument Valley as long as I can remember and I was not disappointed.
The area is part of Navajo land and the group administers the area. They have built a very sympathetic Visitor Centre that blends beautifully with the surrounds.
At the entrance were two VERY large grasshoppers.
There is very little shade in the valley, as demonstrated by this group of horses competing for a spot under a very lonely looking tree.
As we crested a hill the landforms were still amazing, but the colour changed from red to cream. As we neared a town called Mexican Hat there was a mountain that had an amazing pattern on it, a mixture of different rocks and shadows.
Shortly afterwards we left Utah and entered Colorado for the first time this trip. At the same time we left behind the Navajo land and entered Ute areas. The landforms were again intriguing.