My husband and I paid a visit to Arizona in early May, incorporating a trip to the storied Western movie location of Monument Valley with bringing our son home from college in Flagstaff.
It's been such a busy few weeks that I'm just now sorting through the significant number of photographs I took that week!
It was a very special, even emotional visit for us, as so many favorite John Ford and John Wayne movies were filmed in Monument Valley, including MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946), FORT APACHE (1948), SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949), RIO GRANDE (1950), WAGON MASTER (1950), and THE SEARCHERS (1956).
We stayed at Goulding's Lodge, where Ford and Co. stayed when filming in the valley; Goulding's itself was also a location seen most notably in FORT APACHE and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON.
Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan visited Monument Valley a few years ago and wrote: "Goulding's is the Vatican City of Western films, the place where memory resides, an establishment whose story is inextricably linked with the valley's relationship with the movie business."
The view approaching Goulding's, which is nestled against some of the area's towering monuments:
Click any photo to enlarge; doing so on the above photo makes it easier to make out the lodge itself, which was designed to be relatively unobtrusive and not detract from the amazing scenery.
The original Goulding's trading post, which is now a museum:
The original dining room was seen in SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON but no longer exists. The current dining room:
A side view of the trading post/museum:
There's a memorial to the Gouldings in front of the museum:
The view from Goulding's looking toward some of the beautiful monuments, which are just over the state line in Utah, on Navajo tribal lands:
Another view of the trading post:
This was the impressive view when we opened our door. Our balcony looked out the other direction towards the valley.
The trading post in the early morning, looking rather like a shot in a John Ford film:
We were very pleased with our stay at Goulding's; the lodge building was older but was clean and well maintained. We very much enjoyed both the museum and the modern-day trading post, which has a nice selection of items. DVDs of movies made in Monument Valley can be checked out at the front desk, and there is a theater which shows a Monument Valley film each evening.
Our breakfast in the lodge dining room was adequate, though not on a par with the breakfast we enjoyed the next day at a Cracker Barrel in Kingman, Arizona. The only other dining option for miles is at The View Hotel near the entrance to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. While the view at The View is indeed unparalleled and the service was friendly, we cannot recommend eating there; we felt pretty sure our dinner was pulled out of a freezer and microwaved!
While on the trip I began reading a very appropriate book for that locale, THREE BAD MEN: JOHN FORD, JOHN WAYNE, WARD BOND by Scott Allen Nollen. I expect to have that review up in the near future. (Update: Here it is!)
My next Monument Valley post will focus on Goulding's Monument Valley Museum and the location of the quarters of Captain Brittles (John Wayne) from one of my favorite movies, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949). A final post in this series will feature more gorgeous Monument Valley scenery, including John Ford's Point.
Updates: A Visit to Monument Valley: Part Two, and A Visit to Monument Valley: Part Three.