Monument Valley: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

View of Monument Valley in Utah, looking south on U.S. Route 163 from 13 miles north of the Arizona/Utah State line.
Location of Monument Valley in the United States.
Location of Monument Valley in the United States.

Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast and iconic sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. It is located on the southern border of Utah with northern Arizona (around 36°59′N 110°6′W / 36.983°N 110.1°W / 36.983; -110.1), near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation, and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163. The Navajo name for the valley is Tsé Bii' Ndzisgaii (Valley of the Rocks).



Totem Pole formation in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

The area is part of the Colorado Plateau. The floor is largely Cutler Red siltstone or its sand deposited by the meandering rivers that carved the valley. The valley's vivid red color comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone. The darker, blue-gray rocks in the valley get their color from manganese oxide.

The buttes are clearly stratified, with three principal layers. The lowest layer is Organ Rock shale, the middle de Chelly sandstone and the top layer is Moenkopi shale capped by Shinarump siltstone. The valley includes large stone structures including the famed Eye of the Sun.

Between 1948 and 1967, the southern extent of the Monument Upwarp was mined for uranium, which occurs in scattered areas of the Shinarump siltstone; vanadium and copper are associated with uranium in some deposits (see Uranium mining in Arizona).

The Valley in media

Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Appearances include films, such as Westerns by director John Ford, cartoons such as Chip n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, Metallica's music video I Disappear and science fiction movies such as Back to the Future III; television appearances as in MacGyver; as well as DVD covers, book covers, and video games such as the Playstation 3 video game Motorstorm and the NES game Rad Racer II. It is also featured extensively in the 1980s tv show Airwolf; where its hiding place was the thunderbird mesa.

Monument Valley panorama, taken from the Visitor Center and showing the "Mittens" and the road which makes a loop-tour through the Park


Monument Valley from the valley floor.

Monument Valley is officially a large area which includes much of the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a Navajo Nation equivalent to a national park. Oljato, for example, is also within the area designated as Monument Valley. At the Park there is a visitor center, and a small convenience/souvenir shop and a restaurant. Visitors can pay an access fee and drive through the park on a 17-mile (27 km) dirt road (a 2-3 hour trip). Tours are also available, and the fee varies between about $40 and $100 per person depending on the services provided and route. There are parts of Monument Valley which are only accessible by guided tour, such as Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa. Horseback rides are also available from various establishments both inside the park and in the general Monument Valley area, and rates vary widely depending on the length of the ride. Rides may be only an hour, or overnight camping trips. Additionally, hot air balloon flights are available May 1 through October 31, and small airplane flights are sometimes available. Monument Valley is part of the Grand Circle, which includes the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef, Natural Bridges National Monument, Hovenweep, Arches National Park, and many other attractions.

Interior of a "male" style Navajo hogan, with a stove made from a 55 gallon barrel

See also


External links


Monument Valley Panoramics

Monument Valley Panoram
Monument Valley.

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Monument Valley
Monument Valley

Monument Valley [1] is perhaps the most famous example of the classic American West landscape, located within the Navajo Nation on the border of Arizona and Utah. The valley has been the backdrop for numerous western movies, ranging from the films of John Wayne to Back to the Future 3 and Forrest Gump.

Note that the entire Navajo Nation observes Mountain Daylight Savings Time from April through October, putting it one hour ahead of the time in other Arizona locations, or the same time as Utah.



Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancient Anasazi people inhabited the valley until AD 1300. Today over 100 sites and ruins have been found dating from these ancient people, including rock art. The Anasazi abandoned the area in the 1300's, leaving it empty of humans until the arrival of the Navajo.

Flora and fauna

The valley has wide a assortment of vegetation including, Juniper trees, yucca, Russian thistle (Tumbleweed) and Navajo Tea to name just a few. Much of the vegetation is still used by the Navajos for medicinal purposes, and as dyes for their world famous hand-woven rugs.


Temperatures range from the upper 80's to low 90's in the summer. The winters are mild ranging from the upper 40's to mid 50's. Summer nights are cool and comfortable. Winter lows are generally in the mid to upper 20's. The summers are dry except during the monsoon season — beware of flash flooding during this time. Winters sees some snow, which brings out the spectacular colors of the valley.

Get in

Highway 163 is the only way to reach the park.

The Valley lies mostly in northern Arizona, but the highway turn-off that leads into it is just across the border in Utah. The nearest town is Kayenta, about twenty miles to the south.


Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal park (not a USA National Park) and charges a fee of $5 per person (children 9 and under free) for access to the loop road through the valley. National park passes will not be accepted.

Individuals wishing to hike in the valley or to visit sites not on the loop road must hire a Navajo guide for an additional fee.

Get around

While many incredible formations can be seen from the main roads, the best views can be had from the 17-mile loop road that runs through the valley. The road is open 6AM-8:30PM in the summer (May - Sep) and 8AM-4:30PM in the winter (Oct - Apr).

The loop is not paved and can be quite rough and dusty, but most vehicles should be able to manage. You are not permitted to deviate from the loop drive without a native guide present. The loop drive can be done in as little as 30-40 minutes, but most visitors will take several hours to enjoy the scenery. There is no shortage of native guides eager to take you (for a fee, of course!) to the restricted areas.

By guided tour

A number of companies provide guided tours of the Monument Valley that include transportation from the surrounding areas. Some companies will provide bus travel from nearby towns while others begin in Monument Valley Tribal Park. Some will provide just a brief tour with small stops, while others may take you on a hike and arrange all your meals. Most of these are done in windowless buses or trucks — be prepared to get covered in dust. You may wish to take a cue from the Japanese and bring a mask.

  • Hydros Adventures Tours, 928-310-8141, [2]. Offers one day and overnight hiking, rafting, backpacking, and adventure tours to Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona, and Southern Utah. Pickups in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon area.
  • Monument Valley Hot Air Balloon Company, 623-847-1511 or tollfree 800-843-5987, [3]. Offers comprehensive sunrise hot air balloon flight tours from May 1st through October 31st. Includes Navajo guide who will provide information about Monument Valley history & legends and the Navajo People & their way of life, transportation from Kayenta, Arizona or Goulding Lodge, Utah, early morning twilight & sunrise photo opportunities, inflation of the hot air balloon (which is pretty incredible in itself!), hot air balloon flight of approximately 1 hour aloft over some of the most dramatic geography imaginable, post-flight continental breakfast served at a tablecloth setting at your landing site, personalized First Flight Certificate commemorating your ascension in a hot air balloon, backcountry tour (which requires a Navajo guide), a brief stop at the Visitor's Center, and return transportation to your pickup location.
  • John Ford's Vista
  • Artist's Point
  • Wildcat Trail – This impressive 3.1 mile trail takes you along the base of the West Mitten Butte, giving you a sense of how enormous the monuments are. This is the only self-guided walking tour in the park.


The visitor's center has a large gift shop with a wide variety of souvenirs. They also showcase an impressive amount of hand-crafted Native American Arts and Crafts.


Goulding's Lodge has a restaurant, the park's visitor center sells snacks, and there may be stands around the park offering Navajo fry-bread and other items. The View Restaurant is located at the visitor center, and is open for 3 meals, serving American and traditional Navajo cuisine.


Drinking water and other beverages are available at the visitor center and at the campground store. There are no other water supplies in the valley, so be sure to carry enough with you.

Note that alcoholic beverages are prohibited on Navajo lands.


At the moment there's only one option near the valley itself, with one more opening soon. It is not possible to camp within the park. If these are full or out of your price range, there are many hotels in Kayenta, or in Utah try Mexican Hat, Bluff or Blanding.

  • Goulding's Lodge, (435) 727-3231, [4]. Located across the road from the entrance to the park, Goulding's has long been the best option for sleeping near the park. Some rooms have distant views towards the park, camping is also available, and there's a restaurant and gift shop on site. They offer guided tours through the park throughout the day.  edit
  • The View Hotel, [5]. The View Hotel is scheduled to open in October 2008. It is the only hotel inside the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, situated at the entrance, near the visitors center. It will feature 90 suite rooms overlooking the entire valley, with amazing view of the famous mittens and other red rock formations.  edit
  • Goulding's Lodge Campground, [6]. Sites with full hookups are $38 per night, while tent-only sites are $24 per night.  edit

Stay safe

Regulations within the valley include the following:

  • Fires are allowed only in grills, firepits, and other designated areas.
  • Visitors MUST stay on the valley road unless accompanied by a Navajo guide.
  • Rock climbing is prohibited.
  • Personal photography is allowed, but when photographing Navajo residents and their property permission is required and a gratuity is expected. Commercial photography requires a permit.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times.
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on Navajo lands.
  • Do not disturb plants or animals.

Dangers in the valley are minimal, but visitors should not reach under rocks, ledges or bushes due to dangers from rattlesnakes, scorpions and spiders.

Get out

Unless you plan to keep the native guides busy, this is a one-day stop. However, from Kayenta you are close to Ship Rock, Four Corners and the Grand Canyon North Rim (Jacob Lake).

This is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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