It always fascinates, this vast, high desert in northern Arizona.. The distance, the unworldly monoliths poking the sky. Not hard to believe some of the myths and legends about Monument Valley, that this was where the Yei's, the giants of Navajo creation stories, stalked about and fought their thundering battles. For most of us it is a summer land where we visit during the warm days and go to specific areas and see what all the tourists see. Which is pretty impressive. But try a little harder and, locked away back where few ever go are even more of the places where the Yei's crashed willy-nilly about and left behind formations that always make us stand there and say, “isn't that just amazing!” It is not just a drive down to the market on a Sunday afternoon...

Bill Crawley owns Crawley's Monument Valley Tours in Kayenta, Arizona. “Well, to get into here you gotta' be down in 4-wheel drive about all the time to get over into the area because we got a lot of big sand dunes...”

We've adventured with Bill Crawley before and it always kinda' amazes me that he can always take us to some unknown little corner of this part of Arizona, in this case just barely out of sight of the town of Kayenta, Arizona.

“Were going into these canyons and we're going over to what we call Standing Cow Arch and Ruins back in here and very few people ever get back into this area."

As far as we can go now in our vehicle. The rest is a hike...up. This is not the most difficult place Crawley has ever taken us, but no place Crawley takes us is ever easy. What any trip like this is worth on the whole is the absolute solitude. Hard to put a price on the warm sun on your back and the sounds of the wind down the canyons and your own breathing...and not another soul in sight for all the hours you're out here.

Standing cow arch. Personally, I don't see the standing cow, even after Crawley explains it. Up under the overhanging cliff are Standing Cow Ruins. This was probably not a full-time residence, more like a summer place for the tending of crops in the valley below. Still, a crumbly reminder of people who long ago lived their lives here in a place we now consider remote.

“You know, “ Crawley said, “this area that we're in right here is only about 5 miles from Kayenta, but it might as well be in a different part of the world because there's not many people that get back in here because it's such rough terrain and it's so hard to get in and out of. And there's probably not over 20 Anglo people that have ever seen this back in here. Lot of the Navajos that live in this area, naturally, they've seen it because they herd their sheep back in here and their horses and cattle. But very few folks from outside the reservation have been here."


Kayenta is in far NE Arizona, right on the Utah border, about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Flagstaff, 5 from Phoenix. There are 3 very nice motels in town, including a Holiday Inn. Expect summer prices to be outrageous.

There are not many places you can travel alone in Monument Valley or the surrounding Navajo Reservation. You must either be on a tour or with a guide. Bill Crawley has been in the tour business for almost 50 years and knows the country better than anyone. Although he mainly runs group tours into Monument valley, he will take individuals to specific places. Be prepared to pay more than you would for a regular tour...and even more the more remote it gets. But it is worth it. Besides Standing Cow Arch, ask bill about some REALLY remote places like Clara Arch and Hunt's Mesa. Hunt's Mesa is one of the most spectacular places I've ever been!

Contact Bill at 928-697-3463.