Sentinels of sandstone rise hundreds of feet into the sky; watchful “eyes” carved into the rock by the very forces of nature; whimsical shapes in stone paint pictures in the imagination. Small wonder this land captured the attention of film-maker John Ford in the 1930’s. Since then, Monument Valley has become one of the most photographed and easily recognizable places on Earth, where visitors can not only get a glimpse of some stunning scenery, but also of a not-quite-bygone era in the West.
Millions of years ago, layers of rock were deposited here, then buried, then exposed again, which were then molded by relentless desert winds into living sculptures. Since the 1800’s, the Navajo people have called this land home. The Navajo people of Monument Valley live in the traditional “Blessing Way.” Homes (hogans) are constructed out of mud; the door always faces east. There is no electricity or running water. Water must be hauled from distances exceeding sixty miles.
Declared a “Tribal Park” in the 1950’s, visitors can take a 17-mile loop road through the park and take in its breath-taking scenery. Exploration off the main road requires an authorized guide. Self-guide tours, jeep tours, even horseback rides can be arranged at the park visitor center, or with local tour operators in Kayenta. Note that Monument Valley is a Navajo Indian Tribal Park (not a National Park) and entrance fees are charged. National Park Passes, Golden Age/Access Passes, or Golden Eagle Passes do not grant access. Find lodging in Monument Valley Area hotels.