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“Good Monument Valley tour for serious photographers”
Review of Keya-Hozhoni Tours

Keya-Hozhoni Tours
Ranked #6 of 7 things to do in Kayenta
Attraction details
Reviewed August 2, 2011

Hi, We took the all day photographers tour of Monument Valley with this company. Our guide was Tom (owner) who leads most of the higher end tours geared specifically toward photographers. The all day tour is acatully built in two parts. You meet before dawn and go out for the morning hours. He then drops you off back at the hotel. Then around 4:00 pm you meet up again for the afternoon shoot culminating just as the sun sets back at the "Ansel Adams spot" (where he took one of his most famous Monument Valley shots) just at sunset.

Tom (a native of the area) is very good at taking you to many different "off the beaten path" locations in the valley. Mostly they are not on the public loop drive so not accessible to anyone not on a tour. He is a very friendly guy with lots of knowledge of the area. While driving from spot to spot he offered historical and cultural information which was quite interesting. However, from time to time there were stretches where he was not saying anything. However, once we started prompting him with questions during these times he brought forth all kinds of information and stories that were quite interesting.

Our tour (In an SUV) was just 2 couples. Since my wife is not a photographer, Tom gave her a $100 discount which was quite a good deal. As for shooting, as stated earlier, he had a good itinerary of places to stop with a wide variety of subjects (areches, butts, vistas, etc.). He offered good suggestions about framing and composition along with suggestions as to good use of foreground elements.

Through no fault of Tom, on our particular day the weather was not cooperating. To shoot monument valley and get those rich red, orange colors and dramitic shadows of the monuments draped across the desert floor you need good light. Unfortunatly our shooting day was mostly overcast with periods of rain with only a few short periods where there were breaks in the clouds. Some of these breaks provided some good opportunities but they were few and far between. For the most part the light was very flat and the overcast sucked most of the color out of the scenery. Having said that I did come away with some keeppers - just not as many as I had hoped for. Other than those few moments when the sun peaked through, the best shots of the day where right at sunset when the sun broke through moments before it dipped below the horizon giving us great shots of the valley from the "Ansel Adams" spot (BTW you don't need to be on a tour to get to this spot, but do need to know when to be there) and how to frame it).

Tom's pre tour communications were good. He clearly identified the meeting location and time (be aware of the time zone as "Navajo Time" is its own time zone which can be different than Arizona and/or Utah). He showed up on time and provided what he had advertised.

All in all a good value for the serious photographer.

2  Thank Califdan69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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17 - 21 of 26 reviews

Reviewed February 1, 2011

Took a sunrise/sunset tour in Monument and Mystery Valley with Tom Phillips in Aug 2010. Six in total on the tour, four of them in my party of which only I was taking photographs. Tom gave discounted rated for the non tripod members of my group.

Amazing experience and fantastic tour. Photographs and memories will last a lifetime. Standing watching the sun rise between the Totem Pole and Dancing Sisters whilst the echos of Toms flute were sounding in the silence of the valley was amazing. The colours and light were changing by the minute and the range of photographs were staggering.

Just after sunrise, a short walk around to the rippled sand dunes close to the totem to catch the sun lighting the Totem, cliffs, grass and the ripples on the dunes was spectacular. Put this with the petroglyphs, the cliff dwellings, the rock formations, the hot air balloon floating over the mittens, the arches and the Eye of the Sun and Ear of the Wind, a view of the valley through teardrop........what can I say amazing. Tom's narrative on the Navajo culture as we travelled around added a whole other level of meaning.

Stayed at The View....and what a view it is. A storm that night, lightening over the Messa...caught on 'film'

We'll be back.

Dave

1  Thank DavidMK1960
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 21, 2010

My wife and I had on overnight stay at The View in Monument Valley (loved The View). Since we only had a short time in the park, we wanted to see as much as we could. So based on advice from the Monument Valley TA forum we opted for a back country tour of the park. Again using a reference from the forums, we chose Keyah Hozhoni Tours (operated by Tom Phillips) and scheduled a tour for 8:00 AM following our overnight stay at The View. Our guide for the day, Dan, was waiting for us in the lobby of the view, so we had an on time departure for the tour.

The morning was a bit bleak, with overcast and threatening skies, cool temperatures (probably started out under 50 degrees F) and a bit of drizzle. Fortunately, Dan, brought an enclosed vehicle (Suburban 4WD) rather than an open touring truck. He did ask which type of vehicle we preferred, but with the weather, the Suburban was the right call as it kept us much warmer in the chilly morning and therefore we had a much more enjoyable time. The good news for us was the weather improved steadily and quickly through the morning. The skies were clearing, the rain never amounted to much (looked like the storms passed to the north) and it warmed up nicely. So when ended up having great weather with blue skies and white clouds to provide a backdrop to the red rocks.

Dan was an excellent guide. Not overly talkative, but he pointed out all of the major formations and did a great job of driving us through the sandy, back country roads. At many of the stops he pointed out where to get good photos or details such as petroglyphs. While he never rushed us, he keep on oh track and on schedule so that we were back at The View just about 11:15. So, unlike Gilligan, we made it safely through our 3-hour tour.

I think the back country tour is a great way to see Monument Valley. This tour provides access to some areas that you cannot drive in a private vehicle. And taking the tour is easier, as you have an expert on that road doing the driving, so that all you have to do is enjoy the scenery.

The cost for the back country tour was $80 each, which was paid in cash at the entrance to the scenic drive. We also tipped Dan $40 bucks after the tour. So this was a $200 cash outlay for tour for two adults. I thought this was a decent value for what we got. Just remember to have that much cash available.

3  Thank OhioHick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 15, 2010

I booked a 4 hour Photo Tour with Tom Phillips and confirmed three times before the day of the tour. I waited on the morning of my tour for 15 minutes after the start time and then called again. The guy at their office told me that Tom was out of town. He offered no apology or even an explanation why they didn't call me to let me know beforehand. They had my cell number and could have easily done so.
They did get another guide for me, but by the time he got there I had lost nearly an hour of my tour. Also, I was paying a premium to get Tom Phillps, the guy they sent was okay, but no better than the other 20 guides I could have hired in the parking lot the day before (for a much lower price). I do understand that things come up, but I would certainly expect a competent business to have the courtesy to call and let me know.
Book with someone else...no matter how many times you call to confirm your appointment, you just won't know if they will show up.

2  Thank Scoutmaster936
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 20, 2010

We did the 4 hour tour with 4 riders. We arrived at the crack of dawn, paid our fee, and were directed to a corral and mobile home where a grumpy cowboy was saddling horses. He had clearly spent a lot more time as a working ranch hand caring for horses, than as a tour guide attending the needs of tenderfoot city folks. He warned us from the start: "This ain't gunna be no picnic ride." We weren’t too precious about the rustic facilities, didn’t pretend to know anything we didn’t, and by the end, I think we'd earned our stripes with him, and he warmed up a lot. This is not a pony trail ride: you are expected to control your mount and pay attention. The experience will be a lasting memory. The scenery was breathtaking, the Navajo spiritual atmosphere viscerally evident, and the gruff attitude of the cowpoke gave it all a certain authenticity. Fantastic! I would recommend to anyone that doesn't mind sitting atop a horse for 4 hours. I think this is the only concessionaire permitted to ride on the Navajo property.

Thank Drakes_Pelican
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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