a VirtualTourist member
I'll be driving down to Monument Valley for a couple of days at the end of May from Moab and departing from Kayenta to head towards Mesa Verde.
I plan on being in Monument Valley Saturday evening in plenty enough time to catch the sunset. Are there enough places to stake out along the 17 mile "tourist road" like with the Mittens as a back drop, as well as the Totem Pole for sunrise, also? I read the area is gated, so I was wondering how early is one allowed onto the "tourist road"? Can sunrise photos be taken without having a guide?
Speaking of guides, I have read about a Tom Phillips (www.monumentvalley.com) that is supposed to be quite the guide of the Monument Valley area, and that he's really geared towards photographers and knowing what they are looking for in photographing the area. Anyone else had experience with his company? Does anyone have other recommendations?
Finally, is spending about 48 hours at Monument Valley enough time to soak in the entire area? Any other places nearby I should check out, while in the area?
The visitor center and "tourist road" open at 6am. Sunrise at the end of May is also at 6am, so that wouldn't really give you the time to get to the Totem Poles to get the shots you want... I don't know about Tom Phillips, but looking at his website - it seems like a good deal for photographers. It mentions that with him, you would leave 1 hour before sunrise to go to the totem poles - so he obviously would have the permission to do this before the road opens.
As far as the sunset shots - you could actually get these right from the visitor center or the adjacent campground. From here you will be located at the edge of a bluff and looking down into the valley, if you take the "tourist road" you would drive down and be level with the Mittens. Depends on what you want... There are enough places along the road to stake a spot for sunset. For views of the Mittens, you'd be staying in the first 2 -3 miles of the road. You can't stay overnight in the valley on your own with your car. If you don't want to do the sunrise tour with Phillips, another option is to go on a jeep tour with another operator and spend the night in the valley. There are possibilities of sleeping in a hogan (at least there were when I was last there in 2001). Some of these overnight locations are close enough to the Totem Poles that you can walk there in the morning to get your sunrise shots. It semes to me though, that Phillips would be more in tune with getting you the photo results you're after.
I think that 48 hours is plenty of time here. Although it's not the ideal mode of transport if you want to photograph, you might also consider a horseback trip into the valley - even if only for a couple of hours.
You could also stop at Goosenecks State Park on your way down from Moab. It's just north of Mexican Hat and would just be a short stop for the viewpoint. You could have lunch here if you want - there's a picnic table.
Again, I appreciate your detailed response. I also think that Tom Phillips is more than likely the way to go, too.
I'm always happy to help out when I can.