Visiting Monument Valley was one of many highlights from my trip to the Southwest U.S. It straddles the border of Arizona and Utah but is officially in the territory of the Navajo Nation. It has been featured in numerous films dating back to the earliest Westerns and is, perhaps, what most people think of when they imagine the American West.
There is a scenic 16-mile dirt road that loops around and in-between the numerous sandstone buttes. One stop along this road is named Artist's Point, and it was my favorite place to watch the sunrise. The overlook faces northwest and is shadowed by a large mesa. While you cannot see the sun, it provides a perfect vantage point to watch the 1,000-foot tall rock formations light up.
I went there expecting the red rocks to become saturated in the soft morning light. I did not anticipate having wispy clouds in the dry climate, but they were a welcome addition. As I stood there watching the light make its way to the valley floor, another surprise developed. Slowly, interesting patterns of light and shadow emerged as the sun touched the top of the small dunes in the foreground. This combination of elements provided a unique moment to capture.
Lastly, an unforeseen benefit of this overlook is that it draws a relatively low number of visitors. I spent the entire morning here completely alone, allowing for an incredibly peaceful, monumental sunrise.