The Chaos Behind Forrest Gump Point

This is by far one of the more popular pictures I took on my adventure out to Arizona! Most people know it as "the place where Forrest Gump stopped" in the Movie Forrest Gump. My family and I know it as "the impossible, most upsetting road trip ever to take one picture!".... with a happy ending. Directions to the exact spot are at the bottom of this blog.

It all started when we left the Grand Canyon at 4:30am to capture the sunrise at Horseshoe bend. Unfortunately, I timed our drive wrong and we missed the sunrise. That was disappointing, but we had also booked a tour of Antelope Canyon, so we had to be there anyway, which was nice. My wife and I came up with this great idea to drive out to Forrest Gump Point after our Antelope Canyon tour... it was 3 hours away and it was a picture we really wanted to capture, so we thought, why not! We've already driven 3 hours, what's another 3?

 Antelope canyon was amazing, but my "photography tour" took about an hour longer than we originally planned. We hopped in our car and started driving to Forrest Gump Point! As we were driving, we started to calculate how long it would take us to get there. Being a little indecisive, I pulled over to the side of the road and asked Rhonda if we really wanted to do this? This I will never forget, she told me "I believe in what you are doing here, with your landscapes, and we should go for it!". That was all I needed to hear!

We were off!  The closer we got, the more amazing the sunset was becoming! There was no doubt that this was going to be an epic picture! As we pulled into the area called Monument Valley, Rhonda was driving, because I was sticking my camera out the window, getting as many pictures I could while driving ;) We were both so excited and only 20 minutes away from our destination! 

Rhonda had previously pulled up some pictures of Forrest Gump Point on her phone so we could reference them as we got closer. I stared at the pictures, looking for defining rocks that would lead us to this awesome view! Suddenly, I see them! The rocks that are in the pictures are right in front of me! We both got excited! But here's the thing... Rhonda knows that Forrest Gump Point is on the other side of the rocks. We literally have to drive around them to get to the place where Forrest stopped running, but as I'm looking at the pictures on her phone, I notice that they are already looking like they are supposed to! In other words, if we go to the other side of the rocks, the placement of the rocks would be opposite to what I see in the picture.... weird. 

I'm a visual person. I'm looking at these pictures saying, "it's not on the other side... It's on this side!" Still, we keep driving. So much doubt is racing through our minds now. As we get to the other side, the rocks are definitely not in the position they should be! The sun has just set, but I promise her that I will still make this work and will get something out of this! We drove 3 hours extra to take this shot.... I'm taking a picture of something!! I make Rhonda pull over and turn around. I tell her, "it's not possible for this shot to be on THIS side of the rocks! Unless someone flipped the image for no reason at all, it's not on this side! Seriously, why would anyone flip this image.... it HAS TO BE on the side we were on before! We must have just missed it!"

Completely frustrated by the fact that the sun has already set and we can't find this spot, we turn around and start speeding back to where we thought the location might be, but it was no use. There was no way I was getting any shot now, because it was too dark. As we travel back down the road, I look in my mirror for the exact view, but I just can't find it. "We're done" I remember saying. We have a 5 hour drive back home and it's 7:45pm now.

We missed the shot. We were completely frustrated with each other, with the drive, with the location of Forrest Gump Point, trying to figure out how and what went wrong and why anyone would flip that image if indeed they did? I pull over and try to take some pictures in complete darkness, but I'm so frustrated by now, I give up after a couple of tries. As we drive all the way back to our hotel at the Grand Canyon, Rhonda cries a couple times and I just try to make sense of it all. After we get to the hotel, we look up the actually Forrest Gump video and realize that the image WAS FLIPPED! Why in the world anyone would flip that image is beyond me! It definitely doesn't make the image better! 

We wake up the next morning, trying to put that behind us. We spend one more day at the Grand Canyon and then head to Zion and Bryce canyon for the next few days. Feeling a little exhausted and frustrated by what happened  previously we, decide to "totally redeem ourselves" (Dumb and dumber) and get the shot of Forrest Gump point we originally wanted to get. This time, we are getting a hotel down the road from it and we are checking it out before hand! 

Turns out, the hotel we stayed (gouldings) at was one of the best of the entire trip and the view at Forrest Gump point was absolutely worth it! 

Being able to put that terrible night behind us was a huge relief. Even though we've been married for 7 years, we learned a lot that day. The coolest thing I got out of all of this, was just how much my wife believes in what we are doing now with landscape photography and her telling me that at the beginning of our 12 hour day of misfortune made the future seem so bright. 

Here is a picture of all of us at Forrest Gump point. We finally made it!

Just to clear things up, Forrest Gump point is on HWY 163 at mile marker 13 in UTAH. The best place to stay is Gouldings! It's a few miles away and set in the middle of some amazing rocks! Here is the exact point in which I took my picture at the top of this blog. Forrest Gump Point

PicturesJoe Hendricks