Nothing like popping into the Wild West with Indians chasing you while you are driving a Delorian. Oh, wait, I’m not in the Back to the Future 3 movie, I’m in Monument Valley. You can tour Monument Valley through my photo essay or in-person (the park is currently closed) and see beautiful red sandstone buttes, mesas, and interesting rock formations on the border of Arizona and Utah.Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Information
Monument Valley is not a National Park because the valley is entirely within the territory of the Navajo Nation Reservation. There is an access fee to drive through the park, which is $20 per vehicle up to 4 people ($6 each additional passenger). Parts of Monument Valley, such as Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa, are accessible only by a guided tour. If you plan on hiking, you must also purchase a Backcountry Permit in addition to the access fee. The Park open hours are daily from April to September 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from October to March 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Make sure to plan for at least 2-3 hours for your 17-mile exploration of Monument Valley. Make sure to check the website before you go for the latest information.Tour Monument Valley
Kayla and I were on a tour of the Southwest with Disney Adventures when one of our stops was touring Monument Valley for the afternoon. We had so much fun on that hot, sunny day. I took so many photos that I had to use multiple memory cards.Goulding’s Lodge & Trading Post
Goulding’s is the operator we went with for our tour of Monument Valley. We were able to spend a little time on their property, enjoying the scenery of Monument Valley in the distance. And we were able to enjoy a quick look thru the Goulding’s Trading Post Museum. This museum showcases artifacts from the old wild west. You can even see movie memorabilia from ones that have been filmed in Monument Valley. Admission for the museum is $5. To schedule your tour of Monument Valley and for prices, check for the latest information on their website .Buttes and Mesas
Monument Valley has over 29 rock formations for you to photograph, and you would be one of the many that have as it is one of the most photographed places on earth. When I went on my tour, it was in the middle of the day. I do want to go back and see the valley at sunrise and sunset to see the colorful formations at their finest. Monument Valley’s vivid red color comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone. The darker, bluish-gray rocks in the valley get their color from manganese oxide.
A mesa is an isolated, flat-topped hill or mountain with steep sides that is smaller in area than a plateau. A butte is also a flat-topped hill with steep sides, though smaller in size than a mesa. How were the buttes formed? Well…Tectonic forces raised the slab above the water line and created a plateau. Water and wind chipped away at the sedimentary rock and removed the softer materials. This led to the towering rock formations you see today. The buttes can be as high as 1,000-ft above the valley floor.Mitchell Butte Merrick Butte The Mittens Gray Whiskers The King on His Throne Three Sisters Elephant Butte Stagecoach, Bear, and Rabbit Fossils John Ford’s Point
John Ford’s Point is a slab at the edge of a plateau that John Ford used in several western films from 1939 to 1960. You can see several prominent sandstone buttes from this spot in Monument Valley. On our tour, a Navajo Indian rode a horse out to the point for us to sit on it for a photo opportunity.North Window
The North Window is a spot in Monument Valley that will give you the best views of the Mittens and several other buttes in the valley. This is a must-stop for photographers. And it is the perfect place to watch the sunrise over the horizon.Other Rock Formations in Monument Valley Summary
Monument Valley is impressive to photograph with all of its colors changing layer by layer. If you get a chance to tour Monument Valley, you definitely should. Until then, I hope you enjoyed these photos.
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