Monument Valley

Sunset at Monument Valley

You've Likely Seen It Before

A haunting landscape.  One you’ve likely seen many times whether you know it or not.  In fact, it's on the top of every page of this site.

Monument Valley has very likely set the scene for more old Western movies than any other locale.  Quiet, empty, overpowering space and beauty.

More properly known as Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, many people’s first view of this area was in an old western.  It was on full display in John Ford's 1964 epic ... and sad .... western Cheyenne Autumn starring Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, Ricardo Montalban and Gilbert Roland among others.  What an awesome place to make a movie.

Magnificent multi-colored buttes.  Luminous mesas of sandstone, limestone and shale.  Out-of-this-world rock formations like The Mittens, icons of the American West.

Stone hands seem to be saluting the landscape.  Relics of prehistoric sand dunes shaped by weather and erosion.

Road to Monument Valley

The monuments are the magnificent result of eroded material from the Rocky Mountains being deposited and cemented into sandstone.  As erosion worked its magic, geologic uplift caused the land’s surface to expand and fracture.

As the years passed, wind and water sculpted the land into what we see today.  The cracks became canyons and gullies.  The remaining uplifts were tagged with colorful descriptive names.

  • Big Indian
  • West Mitten Butte
  • Merrick Butte
  • East Mitten Butte
  • Elephant Butte

For photographers and artists, the landscape offers an ever-changing palette of colors, textures and shapes.  Sunsets and sunrises here are unlike anywhere else painting the sky with shades of red, orange, pink, purple and every shade between.

Local guides, often from the Navajo tribe, can take you on a journey through the physical beauty of the area if you want to do that.  They can even add some cultural and spiritual depths to your visit.  Stories, myths and legends abound giving life to the rocks and the wind. 

Ernie Pyle, the great World War II reporter once said, “in the desert, it’s likely to occur to you that our daily lives in the cities are full of seeing, hearing, and worrying over a great many things that are of no damn consequence whatsoever.”

Those kinds of thoughts go through your mind when you experience a place like this.  It is not just a sight to see.  It is a place to feel and reflect.

Monument Valley Rock Formations

Monument Valley is located near the Four Corners area.  The only place in the U.S. where four states intersect ... Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

The Navajo reservation makes up almost a quarter of the Four Corners country.  More than 300,000 Navajo people live in the 16 million acre "Navajo Nation” .

People seeking solitude from crowded, crime-ridden and frenetic cities come here to see the story of the earth’s past scrawled in its rocks.  In their unhurried isolation, they often hope to learn something about themselves.  And they very likely will if they take the time.

Man Standing Below The Mittens

Exploration is encouraged and for those willing to to venture off the beaten path, hidden gems await.  Secluded canyons, ancient petroglyphs and remnants of a primal history whisper in the wind.  

Guides will often share secrets spots and places where the soul of the land murmurs softly. 

Beyond its natural wonders, the Monument Valley region is also home to other unique archaeological sites.  Nearby, the ancient Puebloan ruins at Mesa Verde or the Petrified National Forest glimpes into primitive life.

Of course, over the years people have done more than just experience the Four Corners area.  But just because we’ve thought up clever names for a land, mapped out its dimensions, dammed up its waters and criss-crossed it with roads doesn’t really mean we own it.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park lies 5,564 feet above sea level and covers 91,696 acres.  But if you think about it, it covers a lot more.  Or a lot less.  It covers this exact acreage simply because the U.S. government deems it so.

The Navajos have lived here and made their living here for many years.  They still retain a combination of love, respect and even fear for the land.  A land where earth meets sky.  Little changed from centuries ago and that’s reason alone to experience the Four Corners area.

For many travelers, time is of the essence.  If you want to gain the usual tourist overview of the area, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park has a visitor center, campground and restaurant.  It also has a beautiful new hotel ... The View

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is remote enough that it’s really never bustling with tourists.  It is magical.  It is peaceful.  It is unique.  And it is far away from the crowded hectic pace of most attractions you’re used to visiting.

Monument Valley Horses

And yes, those colors are real.  Visit Monument Valley and you'll leave with not just photographs but memories etched into your very being.  This place speaks to something deeper in those who spend any time here.

Spend more than a day or two if you can.  Once again, it is too far away from anywhere else to be overly crowded.  The area offers a range of activities including hiking, horseback riding and jeep tours.  You can find places to camp under the stars and let the silence be your companion. 

The local cuisine ... influenced by both Navajo traditions and the broader Southwestern culinary heritage ... is another highlight not to be missed.  From flavorful stews to freshly baked frybread, there's a taste adventure waiting as well.

Monument Valley stands as a testimony to the timelessness of the earth and the transient nature of human existence.  It is a place where you can lose yourself and find yourself at the same time.  It is more than a travel destination.  It is a spiritual journey, a connection to the earth and a pathway to understanding those who've lived in harmony with this land for centuries.

Monument Valley Pinnacle

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