Traveling from Page to Durango via Kayenta and Mexican Hat is a 290-mile drive that takes a minimum of 5 hours. After having breakfast in Page, we drove for approximately 90 minutes and reached Kayenta, the gateway to Monument Valley. Kayenta is a township within the Navajo Nation with a population of 5,189.
Memories from our past visit 31 years ago came back as we reminisced about our stay in Kayenta. On Thursday, October 15, 1992, we enjoyed a cup of coffee at the Blue Coffee Pot Restaurant and spent the night at the Holiday Inn, now named Kayenta Monument Valley Inn. That evening, we watched the second presidential debate featuring President George H.W. Bush, Governor Bill Clinton, and businessman Ross Perot. This was the debate where Bush was seen checking his watch as he was asked about the national debt’s effect on him personally. Years later, Bush candidly admitted to Jim Lehrer:
I was looking at it, only 10 more minutes of this crap.
The Inn and the Blue Coffee Pot are both still standing and in operation.
We headed north on US-163 towards Utah. Despite having lived in Sedona for a few years now, driving through Monument Valley never fails to impress. As we crossed the state line between Arizona and Utah, we passed a popular tourist spot that had served as a backdrop for the iconic movie scene in Forrest Gump, which was shot from August to December 1993, only after our last visit to the area.
Continuing along the Navajo Code Talker Highway we passed by Mexican Hat (43 min from Kayenta, Elevation: 4,244, Population: 31) and crossed into Colorado.
On the way to Cortez, the gateway to Mesa Verde National Park, the US-160 passes through Ute Mountain Reservation, a Sovereign Nation with over 2,000 residents. In Cortez, the US-160 turns east towards Durango. By mere luck, we had managed to avoid the latest snowfall.
We had dinner at Fired Up Pizzeria located at 735 Main Ave. They are known for serving the renowned Elevated IPA beer brewed by La Cumbre in Albuquerque, NM.