Monument Valley

Monument Valley is located on the southern border of Utah with northern Arizona (around ). 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).


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 movies, such as Westerns by Director John Ford, cartoons such as Chip n' Dale's Rescue Rangers 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.


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 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 Hunt's 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 1st thru October 31st, 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, Hovenweep, Arches National Park, and many other attractions.


It is often difficult to find a place to stay near Monument Valley during the peak tourist season (between April and September). Places to stay include The View Hotel at the rim of the valley, Goulding's Lodge, located about 10 miles from the park, and Bed and Breakfast establishments such as FireTree Bed and Breakfast, where guests can sleep in a traditionally built Navajo hogan. Campgrounds are also available, including Goulding's campground, and a campground near the rim of the Valley operated by Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. There are also lodgings further from the park, in Bluff (50 miles), Mexican Hat (22 miles) and Kayenta (about 25 miles). Each small town has several motels, such as the Desert Rose Inn in Bluff, the Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn in Kayenta, and the San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat, located on a ledge above the San Juan River.


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