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Photographing the West podcast

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Jun 15, 2017

The Four Corners is that area of the southwest where Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico come together. It is rich in Pre-Columbian history and gorgeous western landscapes. Today Bill Naiman and I discuss a few of the icons of this area: Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde and some lesser known locations.

Canyon de Chelly in far northeastern Arizona is very near the small town of Chinle, AZ in the Navajo Nation. Nearby accommodations are limited to the town of Chinle and to the national monument campground. The Anasazi ruins can be viewed from the canyon rim, but to really see the canyon you need a Navajo guide. I recommend Beauty Way Jeep Tours owned and operated by Leander Staley. 928-674-3772

Monument Valley lies within the Navajo Nation on the Arizona-Utah border. You can see part of Monument Valley by paying $20 per car and driving the 17-mile auto tour route.  If you want more than the typical tourist photos, you need a Navajo guide. I recommend John Holiday who can be reached at 435-444-9760. John is a very nice guy and a great photo tour guide.  He lives in Monument Valley and knows it well. He will get you to the right spots for sunrise and sunset on time and in the best spots.

Accommodations in Monument Valley are limited consisting of Goulding’s Lodge and Campground and The View hotel. I’ve stayed in the Lodge and the campground.  The campground is quite nice.  The lodge is pretty basic.  If you want something fancier, check out The View hotel with its wonderful views of Mittens and a price to match.

Mesa Verde is a national park located in southwest Colorado near the town of Dolores. There is a great visitors center at the park entrance just east of Dolores.  To see the actual ruins you need to drive into the park 21 miles which requires about an hour. Much of the park is above 7,000 feet and may be closed in winter. To see all parts of the park, you need to arrive after May 1st. Ranger led tours actually take you into the ruins, but again only after May 1st. Check the park website for actual dates and information about the tours which should be reserved well in advance.

There are accommodations in the park, but once again they do not open until mid-April. See their website at or call 800-449-2288. Other lodging is available in nearby Dolores or Cortez, CO.

Photos by Kirby Flanagan:

 White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly

 White House, Canyon de ChellyCliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Ear of the Wind

Photos by Bill Naiman:

 Stars At First Light

 Stars At First Light, Monument Valley

Monument Valley, Infrared, B&W

Monument Valley, Infrared, B&W

Monument Valley

Monument Valley, Behind the Hotel


Canyon de Chelly, Its People and Rock Art, Campbell Grant  

Canyon de Chelly, The Story Behind The Scenery, Charles Supplee, Doug and Barbara Anderson

Ancient Ancestors of the Southwest, Gregory Schaaf, Lewis Kemper

Mesa Verde, Life/Earth/Sky, Susan Lamb         20/detail/158071031X

The Ancient Southwest, A Guide to Archaeological Sites, Gregory McNamee, Larry Lindahl

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