Milepost 13

“What do you think, Ed? Should we bother doing the Milepost 13 shot?”, my friend Jeremy asks as we head to Monument Valley after our all night photography shoot in Arches and Canyonlands NP.

“I don’t know, Jeremy. It’s only the most famous landscape shot in Arizona. I suppose we could take time out of our busy schedules and do it.”

That’s not word for word how it went down, as there may or may not have been an expletive in my response, but you get the idea. Of course we had to do the Milepost 13 shot! Who cares how many millions of times it’s been done before – by someone else!

Forrest Gump was not the first to immortalize this spot when he stopped running at Milepost 13 of US 163 because he was tired and wanted to go home. Over the years this spot has been visited by countless photographers, all hoping that the conditions would be just right so they too could get an awe inspiring image of this iconic spot. While not as crowded as the Mesa Arch shoot earlier that morning (see A Night in the Parks – Part II), the spot does attract photographers like flies on – honey – and it’s impossible to drive past without stopping. So we agreed that this was to be our dawn shoot the next morning, and we headed to the campground to relax and get some rest.

Two foreign photographers joined us on the side of the road the next morning, making four of us total. Cars come up over the hill behind us doing about 70 mph, but being dedicated photographers, we keep shooting until the last possible moment. Then, when the car is just about on us, all four photographers scatter like vultures who’ve been feasting on road kill. I’m sure it would have been quite the show for anyone watching, but we were pretty much on our own in the middle of nowhere.

As for Monument Valley itself, it has much more to offer than just this one vista. As one of the most photographed landscapes in the world, this majestic valley that straddles Utah and Arizona has inspired all sorts of artists over the years. Filmmaker John Ford shot almost every one of his movies here, including Stagecoach (1939) and The Searchers (1956). Monument Valley was featured in the film Easy Rider (1969), Clint Eastwood’s film The Eiger Sanction (1975), and recently the popular United Kingdom television show Doctor Who in the two episodes “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon”. And, of course, Robert Zemeckis’ film Forrest Gump. And it was clearly the inspiration behind the mesas and buttes in the iconic cartoon show, “Wile E Coyote and The Road Runner”.

Milepost 13, Monument Valley, Utah

Milepost 13 on US 163, otherwise known as Forrest Gump Point, provides a spectacular viewpoint for Monument Valley, Utah.

So we did our morning shoot and headed back to the tiny town of Mexican Hat, where we had a breakfast so impressive that we returned for lunch after we broke camp. Next stop – into Monument Valley itself, for some spectacular camping next to “The Mittens”. But you’ll have to wait until next week for that adventure!

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3 Responses to “Milepost 13”

  1. Michael Burke says:

    I feel a sudden urge to jump in my car and drive straight to the desert southwest (triple-digit temps notwithstanding). Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Ron says:

    Kinda want to get my running shoes on now — thanks Ed!