By on November 24, 2014

Albert Monument Valley 1Albert all set for his first Hollywood movie.

You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

I think most of you will agree that a Coast to Coast trip wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory stop at the very photogenic Monument Valley. So after pausing in New Mexico at Albuquerque and Gallup, we now drive north on US 163 to reach the legendary set of so many Hollywood Western movies, located across the Arizona/Utah state line. The vehicle landscape analysis, official sales data, a special feature on the most popular rental cars in the country, an update on how my valiant Ram 1500 EcoDiesel (Albert) is behaving and a healthy amount of spectacular and oh-so American pictures are below.

Gallup Las VegasToday’s New Mexico-Arizona-Utah-Nevada stretch, courtesy of Google Maps.

Ford F-150 ArizonaFord F-150 in Arizona

Crossing Arizona on the way to Monument Valley, the ratio of pickup trucks in the traffic goes up to 70% compared to around 60% in New Mexico before crossing the Arizona state line, logically as this is one of the most remote and rural parts of Arizona. The new generation GMC Sierra is stronger than usual, Ram pickups are now almost exclusively the Tradesman base model identical to the one I am driving (Albert) and there is a strong heritage of previous generation Chrysler 200 but no new gen yet. The Ford F-150 2-door base model like the one pictured above rules Arizona roads as it does in numerous U.S. states.

Nissan Altima Monument ValleyNissan Altima in Monument Valley AZ

The most recent Arizona sales data I managed to get my hands on dates back from the first half of 2012, courtesy of MSN Autos. At the time, the Ford F-150 logically topped the sales charts with 5,839 units, but the two other nameplates on the podium are a bit of a surprise: the Ford E-250 at #2 makes its first appearance that high in a sales ranking so far in this Coast to Coast trip, simply because rental company U-Haul registers most of its E-Series models in this state, and the Nissan Altima ranks third, confirming the trend that dictates U.S. states close to the Mexican border to particularly favour Nissans.

UPDATE: JATO Dynamics has now made Full Year 2013 data available to me for Arizona and the results are very different.

Best-selling light vehicle in Arizona – 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Chevrolet Silverado 8,022
2 Ford F-150 7,362
3 GMC Sierra 6,893
4 Ram Pickup 5,959
5 Toyota Camry 3,953

Source: JATO Dynamics

The Chevrolet Silverado spectacularly takes the lead thanks to the new model, it is the second state the Silverado wins so far in this Coast to Coast trip after Oklahoma. The F-150 comes at a close second followed by the GMC Sierra hitting its best state ranking so far (my observations are finding their confirmation here) and passing the Ram Pick-up. The Toyota Camry is the only passenger car in the Top 5.

Dodge Ram Monument ValleyDodge Ram 1500 in Monument Valley AZ

Even though we only dipped into Utah to enter the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, with the valley drive located entirely in Arizona, I thought it’d still be worthwhile sharing some official Utah models sales data, as this is what I do after all!

UPDATE Best-selling light vehicles in Utah – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Ram Pickup 5,211
2 Ford F-150 4,164
3 Chevrolet Silverado 3,212
4 Hyundai Elantra 2,425
5 Chevrolet Cruze 2,122

Source: JATO Dynamics

Surprise on top: the Ram pickup is the most popular vehicle in Utah, topping a state’s sales charts for the first time so far in this Coast to Coast trip thanks to 5,211 units sold state-wide, a comfortable 25% margin over the Ford F-150 in 2nd position. The Chevrolet Silverado logically rounds up the podium but the remaining two nameplates in the Top 5 appear at this level for the first time: the Hyundai Elantra brilliantly takes the lead of passenger cars at #4 ahead of the Chevrolet Cruze.

Monument Valley 1Monument Valley AZ

From halfway between Gallup and Monument Valley onwards, the majority of the traffic is composed of rental vehicles as this qualifies as one of the most touristic areas in the country. Most popular are the Chevrolet Captiva, Equinox and the ever-present Impala, Nissan Versa, Sentra and Kia Sorento. The Ford Explorer seems to be the only ‘legit’ Arizona success on our journey – read not rental-based. Not long ago, The Truth About Cars published info about America’s top rental cars and this confirms my observations in and around Monument Valley.

America Top rentals. Picture courtesy of Polk Automotive

In 2013, almost all Chevy Captivas (now discontinued) went to rental fleets and nearly 75% of GMC Yukon XL did. This is indeed a model I have encountered at a very high rate since the start of this Coast to Coast trip, along with the GMC Yukon coming at #7 and a bit above 40% and the Chevrolet Suburban at #8 and a round 40%. Unsurprisingly, the Chevrolet Impala is 4th in the list of cars with the highest sales ratio to rental fleets at just under 60% and the Chrysler 200 ranks 6th, while 3 Dodge close the Top 16: the Avenger, Caravan/Grand Caravan and Charger.

Monument Valley 2Monument Valley AZ

Now that we have cleared the sales aspects of both Arizona and Utah, let’s get into some Monument Valley trivia. This is the second time I visit this breathtakingly beautiful region, the first time was exactly 20 years ago. I will never forget how shocked I was that the area was actually so small, with in fact only a handful of these striking-looking buttes. These have featured in so many movies, ads and TV shows that if you have never visited the area it is easy to imagine that the entire West of the country looks like this. In the words of movie critic Keith Phipps: “Its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”

Stagecoach. Picture courtesy nytimes.comA scene of Hollywood movie Stagecoach set in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley has been featured in at least 50 Hollywood movies. The first one, John Ford’s 1939 film Stagecoach, starring John Wayne, has had an enduring influence in making the Valley famous. John Ford shot a whopping nine additional Westerns in the Valley, including My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Wagon Master (1950), Rio Grande (1950), The Searchers (1956) and How The West Was Won (1962).

Albert Monument Valley 3Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Other notable Hollywood movies featuring Monument Valley include Billy the Kid (1941), Angel and the Badman (1947), Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Easy Rider (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Thelma & Louise (1991)Forrest Gump (1994) and Mission: Impossible II (2000). Most recently, in 2014’s most popular movie at the worldwide box-office Transformers: Age of Extinctionthe scene in which the surviving Autobots reunite was shot in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley 3Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley pickup trucksMonument Valley pickup trucks

The implied association with John Wayne’s tough, macho character also made the Monument Valley buttes a natural choice as the background for the Marlboro Man from the 1950s onwards. Finally, the rugged desert scenery for the Coyote and Road Runner cartoons takes much of its inspiration from Monument Valley.

Albert ArizonaAlbert getting some Love’s after being pushed hard.

This is the part of the trip where we pushed Albert a little more than before: the Monument Valley drive is 100% unsealed and at time rather abrupt climbs or drops. For the first time in this trip I was glad to be driving a pickup truck with a 4WD option rather than a standard sedan rattling its bumpers on scorched rocks. Don’t get me wrong this was no harsh terrain, but having to slow to an almost stop in order to negotiate ruts wasn’t uncommon. Also, the way to and from Monument Valley had very little traffic so we encouraged Albert all the way to 100mph and he seemed to enjoy this newfound freedom to its fullest. The result upon arrival in Las Vegas NV: a fuel economy shooting back up to 28.8mpg average! Well done Albert.

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars which just celebrated its 4th anniversary.

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

Albert mpg Vegas NVAlbert’s fuel economy after a day at high(er) speeds – and a morning parked under the sun, hence the extravagant outside temperature…

Toyota Camry Ford Escape Monument ValleyFord Escape, Toyota Camry and Albert at John Ford’s Point in Monument Valley AZ

Arizona RoadArizona road

Arizona skyArizona sky

Albert Monument Valley 2Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Albert Monument Valley 4Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Albert Monument Valley 5Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley 4 Totem Pole in Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley 5Monument Valley AZ

Arizona Road 2Arizona road

Arizona Road 3Arizona Road

Chrysler 200 x 2 ArizonaChrysler 200 x 2 in Arizona

Dodge Van Monument ValleyDodge Van in Monument Valley

Road to Monument ValleyThe road to Monument Valley

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42 Comments on “Coast to Coast 2014: Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah...”


  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I like the picture of the almost-certainly-a-rental Altima trundling along in the dust and washboard. So very out of place in that landscape. Monument Valley is stunning, but you are basically confined to your vehicle, rolling single file on the dirt road choking on the dust of a hundred rental cars. At the pullouts (if the wind isn’t blowing the road dust into your view) you can get some nice photography that makes it easy to pretend later that their wasn’t a tourist zoo behind you.

    You turned around at the wrong time, you’re missing all the good stuff to the north.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You are ruining my real life Red Dead Redemption fantasies at this moment.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      “You turned around at the wrong time, you’re missing all the good stuff to the north.”

      I couldn’t agree more. He also missed some great scenery by going 89 through Utah instead of 89A through Arizona. The Vermillion Cliffs come out of nowhere. My rcommendation would be to go through Page to with a stop at Horseshoe Bend, then 89A to 389.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Bingo. Monument Valley is beautiful, but the Vermillion Cliffs and many other features not listed on the map as a tourist destination will literally take your breath away when you come upon them. You’ll never forget the first time you drop through that gap on 89A and see the Vermillions and beginnings of the Grand Canyon arrayed below you.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          It’s an amazing scene. 89A/89 from Sedona to Kanab is truly one of the great American drives.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          While we lived in Tucson, my wife and I managed to do Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Monument Valley all in the same trip. Almost 2000 miles and probably 40 hours of drving. Worth it.

          It was all on a rental car paid for by VW since my GTI needed a DSG mechatronic unit replacement per the recall. The guy at Enterprise did a double take when he logged the milage in upon return.

          • 0 avatar
            56BelAire

            I lived(was stuck) in New Jersey for 50 years, finally moved west to Utah in 2009…..I am still in awe everyday of the natural beauty that the southwest possesses. Moab(Arches) is probably my favorite, stunning natural beauty and not usually as crowded as the ones you mention.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            One of my friends owned a plumbing business in New Jersey for all of his working life.

            At age 65 he gave his house and his business to his son, and moved to Southcentral New Mexico. Arrived in New Mexico in a Towncar and now drives an F150.

            More and more people are discovering what you have found, the natural beauty of the Southwest along with peace, tranquility and clean air.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The RAM is an awesome truck, and has even more reason to feel superior given the new F Series’ dismal real world fuel economy results.

      RAM accomplished way more with a relatively low cost motor/powertrain combo than Ford did after spending billions on complicated materials, assembly, retooling, etc.,

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Ah yes, the power of diesel. If only Ford didn’t axe the 4.8L diesel for the P415 and U22X in 2007.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          A good diesel unit, especially in a truck, is the best way to fly by far.

          Chrysler nailed this one.

          A GOOD diesel gives much torque, great fuel economy vs a gasoline motor, and a much longer service life.

          Look at Matt’s data above. 30 mpg COMBINED? That’s 4 cylinder Honda Accord territory.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Modest improvement? The beloved Toyota tundra on this site averages about 16 mpg if you’re really trying. The news fuel savings for this truck will let a lot note people think about buying a truck ..

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    I believe the top movie featuring scenes from Monument Valley was “Vacation”, starring Chevy Chase.

    “We pass a godd— gas station every hundred yards for a thousand miles, but when you really need one, you end up walking your -ss off! This is no way to run a desert!”

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    I don’t mean any malice by this question, but in which states exactly does a regular cab XL F-150 rule the road? XLTs, Lariats and King Ranch SuperCrews, sure. But XL?

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Welcome to Las Vegas. If you need anything, let me know.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    “the Ford E-250 at #2 makes its first appearance”

    That’s because all U-Haul trucks/trailers in the US and Canada have Arizona plates. They buy enough to skew the state-wide figures.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Wifey and I were there during our 25th anniversary trip in 2002.

    Our rental car? A brand-new Chevy Cavalier! It wasn’t too bad…

    Funny, at John Ford Point, there was an Indian with a horse you could sit on and have a photo taken. He even gave you a Daisy Winchester (non-working) to pose with! I gave my best John Wayne pose. When Wifey hopped on the horse and grabbed the rifle, just when I snapped the photo, she aimed the gun at me!

    Yes, I’m still alive and we’re still married – 37+ years!

  • avatar
    Fred

    When I first heard my company was moving to Texas I immeadiatly thought of John Wayne riding thru the Monument Valley. Watch “The Searchers” he crosses the Brazos and enters the Monument Valley. Much more spectacular than any part of the Brazos I have seen, so I can’t really blame John Ford form messing with geography.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “The Searchers”: Best western ever made, hands-down.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        reg; ““The Searchers”: Best western ever made, hands-down.”

        Maybe?… I’m a big fan of Westerns and in my considered opinion it is ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’. Partly filmed in Monument Valley.

        Never released on video VHS or DVD, and just recently to cable/satellite. It used to come around to the small movie houses about every five years or so and friends and I would get together and go see it. It can now be streamed from several sources. Check it out.

        ‘The film is now generally acknowledged as a masterpiece and one of the greatest films ever made.’ wiki

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_Upon_a_Time_in_the_West

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        reg; ““The Searchers”: Best western ever made, hands-down.”

        Maybe?… I’m a big fan of Westerns and in my considered opinion it is ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’. Partly filmed near Monument Valley.

        Never released on video VHS or DVD, and just recently to cable/satellite. It used to come around to the small movie houses about every five years or so and friends and I would get together and go see it. It can now be streamed from several sources. Check it out.

        ‘The film is now generally acknowledged as a masterpiece and one of the greatest films ever made.’ wiki

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_Upon_a_Time_in_the_West

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        “The Seachers” hasn’t aged well, for my favorite John Wayne western is “Red River” but my favorite western is “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” Something about that harmonica. Also it saved Clint Eastwood’s career.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Fred, I didn’t know Eastwood’s career needed saving.

          From what I recall Eastwood’s career was on a steady climb since the days when he portrayed Rowdy Yates.

          Head’m up. Mover’m out!

          I’m not a fan. Prefer John Wayne Westerns, Randolph Scott, Joel McRae, James Stewart, et al, of the old genre.

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          From start to finish, a harmonica is a big part of Once Upon a Time in the West. It is part of the character played by Bronson. Very spooky and carries the latent mood of the show. I can hear it now, unforgettable.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    In the instrument panel photo, what is the gauge on the bottom left inset in the tachometer?

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Where is the snow? When did you take this trip?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Apparently it’s been a while, the gas picture shows $3.35 a gallon, I was seeing $2.54 two weeks ago.

      Hopefully this trend continues until we hit a more reasonable fuel price.

    • 0 avatar

      3Deuce27: 6-7 weeks ago

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        3Deuce27: 6-7 weeks ago…. Had to be. Winter comes early and stays late at those altitudes.

        I have been hiking and photographing the 4-corners and beyond for some 40 plus years now, been caught in plenty of early and late snow storms. Never snows much, but when your truck is 20 or more miles from camp, it works you good to get back to it, especially if your carrying to much gear.

        Of course the load out is always lighter then the load in, but if your dragging snow with every step, just walking, is effort enough.

        For those who want a real experience in the West, get a hold of a rafting company and raft the Green or Yampa rivers, take your kid, neither of you will ever forget it. It will be the best money you ever spent on an outdoor activity in the contiguous states.

  • avatar
    madman2k

    It’s a nice place – grew up about 3 hours away and went several times to shoot photos, the best time is at night during the winter; done some time lapse and star trails of the iconic view with the mittens.

    I liked it so much I convinced my wife (fiancé at the time) we should get married there, so we did. Ate at the restaurant afterwards, but didn’t stay in the hotel.
    Made for a nice backdrop for photos of our small group but it was a windy March day.

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      MadMan2_ Sounds like we have at least one of the same hobbies. Photography and in particular Night Sky time lapsed imaging. I have a new camera for that effort and will see how it works in my up coming Winter travels through the West to South East to the Caribbean.

      From Gopro for the Hero4

      New settings for after dark.
      Capture the night sky in a whole new way. New Night Photo and Night Lapse modes offer customizable exposure settings of up to 30 seconds for single and Time Lapse photos. Whether you’re shooting the Milky Way or a campfire hangout, Night Photo and Night Lapse allow you to you capture ultra low-light scenes like never before.
      – See more at: http://shop.gopro.com/hero4/hero4-black-surf/CHDSX-401.html#sthash.o0Sgqdqn.dpuf

      • 0 avatar
        madman2k

        Cool – good luck with the go pro. I’ve seen some awesome stuff created with those, but I’ve only played with one a couple times. I still have a lot to learn about video editing, still photography is all I’ve done really.

        Here’s the Monument Valley time lapse though:
        http://youtu.be/2wLx1Di2ozc
        I will probably redo it with my Fuji X-E2 – that was shot with a Canon 1D and the dynamic range and noise performance is not nearly as good (the Fuji is 12 years newer)

        Also here’s the star trails shot with a Canon 40D:
        http://www.dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=1133366

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          Some pretty good pics in that collection, MadMan.

          One of the reasons I have a lot of gear to pack in, is the lighting equipment. The time lapse with the moon rising, would have benefited greatly with the pinnacle lite up. Night shots, nearly always benefit from strategically placed lighting. The equipment is light enough, but the energy paks can weigh you down on a pack in, but are a lot lighter then they used to be.

          The only thing I edit is stills, a friend of mine who is in his mid 70’s, is a master at video editing, and this Spring he is going to bring me up to speed on video editing.

          Enjoyed the pics… Keep shooting MadMan

  • avatar
    jvossman

    are we going to get a summary article about albert… The photos are nice, the text about sales figures kind of random, I just want to know about the ecodiesel ram. Thanks.

  • avatar
    jvossman

    Thanks!


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