What’s the Adventure?
What would you do if you could live out your Wild West fantasies? For me, I would jump at the chance without thinking twice.
Which was what happened when my friend, Philippe Lacarrière, who runs The Great Escape 4WD tours in Las Vegas, invited me along on one of his reconnaissance trips to Monument Valley, on the border between Utah and Arizona. Thankfully, we wouldn’t be exploring this Navajo park on horseback but in the more comfortable confines of a 4.4-litre Discovery 3 V8 – or LR3, as they call it in America.
Our Favourite Bit?
For our trip, Philippe and I have enlisted the aid of guide Jimmy Keith, the son of a Navajo medicine man. Jimmy not only knows the territory, being an expert on local history and a proponent of Navajo culture, but is also an accomplished singer and musician. This private trip is quite a privilege as Jimmy takes us to his favourite spots, many of them not accessible via the loop road.
Leaving from Lookout Point, we start out along Valley Drive for a tour around Monument Valley that will conclude at buried at the foot of the rocks) offers a stunning view of East Mitten Butte. Once parked, walk the 500-yard footpath for a view of East Mitten in which the ‘hand’ changes shape as you walk.
Making it out alive
All through our trip, Jimmy cannot stop commenting on the comfortable ride offered by the LR3 compared with his 30-year-old Ford F150, as well as complimenting the finish of the interior. He’s also impressed with the Terrain Response control system and how it copes with everything that the arid, dusty landscape can throw at it.
As much as we agree with him, Philippe and I are both busy having our breath taken by the awe-inspiring scenery. We leave Jimmy to discover the Land Rover's electronic equipment, while asking him dozens of questions about the monoliths and natives.
It is quite difficult to emphasise the sheer beauty of Monument Valley without overdoing it. The park is marvellous, hence the continuous flow of tourists visiting the area and the movie-makers who still flock here to use it as a film location.
Now is definitely the time to visit, especially as the exchange rate with the US dollar is in Sterling’s favour. And the best way to make the most of your trip is definitely in a Land Rover.
The full story can be found in the May 2011 issue of LRO. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.