Monument Valley is a National Park that celebrates the Navajo way of life. It is one of the most breathtaking views in the United States and is famous for its landscape that has been featured in many motion pictures. Completely within the Navajo reservation, the journey to get to the area will take you on a paved road that intersects the border of Utah and Arizona. Though there are various services available to explore the more difficult areas to get to in the area such as horseback riding and guided tours; if you are visiting the monument valley, using your own vehicle to travel is the norm. RUVs and cars with low clearance may create trouble on these unpaved roads and the road becomes impassable owing to heavy rains except for a 4 wheel drive.
With opening times set at 6 am May through September, if you are looking for some stunning photographs, head on to this 17 mile long drive, 13 miles of which is a one-way loop. Most views of the buttes can be fascinating as they look different from different sides. Compared to places such as the Grand Canyon, this park certainly holds its own for stunning scenery. Featured among the landscape are the buttes that tower over the rest of the countryside as well as the signature reddish orange soil that marks the entire area. The park’s claim to fame is its sparse beauty that is interrupted only by the few trails leading to the Navajo settlement.
Traverse steep and rocky hillside with a Navajo guided tour to get to some of the most renowned formations at Monument valley: West Mitten, East Mitten and Merrick Buttes. The Mitchell Mesa rising 1000 feet above borders the flat land and brings you closer to nature than you ever believed possible. The Elephant Butte that has badlands deep red in color beneath it is a breath taking sight. One side has high, sheer – sided sandstone and the other side is a tapering ridge. Though not exactly of the shape of an elephant, lengthened shadows of the afternoon sun do add to the familiarity! The most photographed Totem Pole is a spire of 450 feet high rock, which is just a few meters in width.
If you have been an avid fan of old Western flicks, you cannot leave the monument valley without visiting the John Ford’s point. John Ford was a director who used this area, now named for him, in many of his movies from 1939 to 1960. Most of the miles at the start of the valley drive showcase the best of desert land – miles of uneven, undulating desert with a number of isolated peaks in the background. One such site that has a plateau overlooking the desert land has been used often in the movies.
However, if you are looking for more than just the buttes and the desert land, then there are ancient caves and cliff dwellings, petroglyphs and natural arches and eroded rock formations as well. All of these are isolated and away from the valley drive and can be experienced as a part of guided tours through back trails. Even as a drive for the family, it is awe-inspiring for the long straight empty road across flat barren desert leading towards a stark red cliff 1000 foot high curving ahead on the horizon!
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