Southwest Road Trip: Monument Valley, Hovenweep National Monument & Dolores Colorado

Monument Valley, Utah
We headed through Monument Valley; the ride was desolate and picturesque. I highly recommend renting a four wheel drive if you are doing any traveling in the Southwest.  There are so many opportunities to take random dirt roads, you'll regret it if you can't drive down them and explore. We stopped at a small cafe in the Navajo Nation Reservation for a Navajo Taco; fried bread with beans, lettuce, cheese, meat and hot sauce on top. The food was tasty and folks were friendly but I couldn't help but feel an overall sense of sadness because poverty is so widespread and evident on the reservation. I would like to return to spend some time touring the reservation and talking to those who live there.  For this trip we were just driving through, so we only got to stop for a couple of hours.

Monument Valley in Utah, United States
Mexican Hat, Utah, United States

Hovenweep National Monument, Utah/Colorado Border

We continued our drive to Hovenweep National Monument, a collection of prehistoric Puebloan-era villages spread across twenty miles. Hovenweep is truly a unique place.  The area was calm and serene with only a couple of other individuals at the site. There is a self-guided walking tour through Little Ruin Canyon that lasts about an hour, a must see. I could sense the calm and piece in the area and it felt like a step back in time. I was amazed that I had never heard of this place before.

Be sure to bring a hat and water as the sun is unforgiving and it can get much hotter then you think. We were fortunate enough to have a four-wheel drive vehicle we rented so we coild take advantage of the off road trails that take you to various secluded sites at the monument. The day ended with being completely alone next to ancient ruins, watching an amazing Southwest sunset with an orange red amber sky, sipping a glass of wine. Perfection.

Little Ruin Canyon at Hovenweep National Monument.

Sunset at Hovenweep National Monument.

Dolores, Colorado
Upon recommendation from a friendly ranger at Hovenweep National Monument we made our way to a small town named Dolores, Colorado to stay for the night. Dolores was an unexpected bright spot in the trip.  There is only one town square and everyone in the town seemed to be heading to Dolores River Brewery for dinner (the population is under 1000 people) and then across the street to the Hollywood Bar for Karaoke night.
River in Dolores, Colorado
Sitting at the Dolores River Brewery was a great opportunity to mingle with residents, who were all friendly and inviting. We got to know several of them as we drank beer and ate thin crust artisan style pizza (which was delicious by the way). 

We stayed at The Rio Grande Southern Hotel Bed and Breakfast across the town square from the brewery and bar. This place felt more like a shared home-stay. While the owners were very friendly and the home cooked breakfast was hearty, it wasn’t the cleanest establishment.  Although I still appreciated it for its history and local feel, if you are looking for a well-kept, clean modern hotel, this is not the place. On the other hand if a quirky experience in an inexpensive place is your style, you can probably hang. The town of Dolores has several other lodging options listed on the the Dolores Chamber of Commerce website.

One day I’m hoping to make my way back for the high-end wilderness/cabin experience at Dunton Hot Springs…so hopefully I’ll have a future review to share with you on that.  

The Brewery

The Rio Grande Southern Hotel B & B

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