A part of the Colorado Plateau characterized by its dramatically eroded sandstone buttes, Monument Valley along the southern border of Utah and northern border of Arizona is one of the most photographed natural wonders in all of the United States — second only to the Grand Canyon directly southwest of Monument Valley. The valley exemplifies the image of the southwestern United States that most people hold in their minds: painted desert landscapes of red, yellow and shades of purple sweeping upward into the iconic buttes.
Coming from the Navajo word “Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii,” the word roughly translates to “Valley of the Rocks.” Lying almost completely on the Navajo Indian reservation, the area has been held sacred by indigenous peoples for thousands of years. Though a part of the Indian Reservation — and technically considered a Nation other than the United States, the valley itself is managed by “Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park,” making it the Navajo Nation’s equivalent to a U.S. National Park.
Monument Valley Famous Rock Formations
Monument Valley’s most breathtaking and famous rock formations are the “mittens (Pictured Above);” rock formations that appear as right and left handed snow mittens protruding from the siltstone below. Another one of the valley’s famous sites is the “Totem Pole (Pictured Below);” a rock formation that is tall and slender as a totem pole, and one of the oldest spires still standing in the valley today.
Totem Pole at Monument Valley
What To Know About Traveling to Monument Valley
Again, Monument Valley is located on land in the Navajo Nation and is closed to “Non-Navajo” peoples, but the Navaho Nation is very good and courteous about letting travelers into the park to see this amazing natural wonder that the Navajo believes no man can own, and should be able to be seen by all men. Permits are available to allow hiking to the Valley and for guided tours.
One thing to remember is to follow the rules set by the Navajo Nation such as: Do not climb on the rocks, no base jumping, and respect the religious beliefs and requests of the Navajo when on the land. A very big “no-no” is scattering the ashes of loved ones over the valley — this is considered “desecration.” Again, we do want to emphasize that the Navajo Nation are very courteous and friendly peoples, but you are not in the United States when you are on that land and you are subject to all of the laws of their Nation.
Check Out The Video Below for a Look at the Landscapes of Monument Valley:
And Check Out Monument Valley from the Air in the Video Below: