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In pictures: Monument Valley

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA

The southwest USA is a region packed with spectacular landscapes, but they don’t get more iconic than Monument Valley. You almost expect to see John Wayne appear from between the towering rocks on his horse at any moment as you drive through the valley. In the movies this was the site of many battles between cowboys and Indians. But in real life the land is owned by the Navajo tribe, who call it the Valley of the Rocks. The huge rock buttes emerge out of miles of empty desert scrubland, coloured in vivid shades of gold, orange and pink. They’ve been named after their shapes, so you can try and spot which are the Mittens, the Thumb and the Totem Pole. And the Western director who made the area famous gets a mention too, with John Ford’s Point on the site of one of his favourite filming locations.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is open 8am–5pm every day (6am–8pm from 1 May to 30 September) and entry costs $5 per person. There is a 17-mile scenic drive through the rock formations, but the unpaved road is really rough so it’s best done in a 4×4 and will probably take at least two hours. Otherwise if you’re short on time you get great views from the terrace at the visitor’s centre.

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23 Comments Post a comment
  1. I can’t count the number of times I rode through there iin my imagination as a child

    May 10, 2013
    • My dad is a big Western fan so I grew up seeing these landscapes, so was so pleased they looked just the same in real life as they did in the films.

      May 10, 2013
  2. What a spectacular landscape Lucy! And beautifully captured.

    May 10, 2013
    • Thanks Madhu, it was a beautiful day, though what you can’t see from the photos is it was absolutely freezing – I had to get my gloves and scarf on to be able to stay out long enough to take the photos!

      May 10, 2013
    • Wouldn’t have guessed!! Looks blazing hot 🙂

      May 10, 2013
  3. What great photos! I definitely want to visit Monument Valley the next time I’m in the southwest.

    May 10, 2013
    • Thanks, it’s well worth a visit, you do really feel like you’ve walked into a film set!

      May 13, 2013
  4. My hubby, our three dogs and I are going to go camping at Mancos State Park in southwestern Colorado in just a couple of weeks. One of our day-trips (well, in this case a two-day trip) will be to Monument Valley … a first for us. I have been looking forward to this trip for months, looking at your pictures makes me even more excitement (if that’s even possible). We will be on the road in our full size Dodge van. We just installed new shocks; do you think the 17-mile loop will be too hard on a van?

    Thanks for sharing the pics … timing for us couldn’t have been any better. By the way, I’ll be blogging live on our trip, and very much looking forward to it.

    May 11, 2013
    • That sounds like a great trip! I have a lots more posts from this area to come including a couple from Colorado and will look forward to reading about how you get on. We found the Monument Valley loop pretty hard going, but I think your vehicle’s clearance above ground is key really. We didn’t feel that happy doing it in a rental car but would’ve in our own vehicle. You can always start and turn around after a while – which is what we did – if you need to.

      May 13, 2013
  5. Soo envious.
    Want to go again. You have the most amazing eye for pictures-you really captured the contrasts. Also memory- had the best steak ever in Mexican Hat done out of doors on a metal swing grid.

    May 11, 2013
    • Thanks Bridget, it’s a great place to photograph. If I go back again I’m going to splash out on a room in the hotel next to the visitor’s centre and get some sunrise and sunset shots, what a view from the balcony!

      May 13, 2013
  6. I love these photos- they really make me feel like I’m in an Old Western. Despite growing up in the states I still have never been to Monument Valley… but I need to go!

    May 12, 2013
    • Thanks Ashley, it almost doesn’t look real doesn’t it? Would love to explore the area on horseback sometime for the real Western experience!

      May 13, 2013
  7. Superb shots Lucy and what an amazing landscape. One day!

    May 13, 2013
    • Beautiful isn’t it, you’re totally spoilt for choice when it comes to gorgeous landscapes in this bit of the world.

      May 14, 2013
  8. Such a familiar landscape, Lucy, but I bet it’s so much larger than life when you’re actually there. Beautiful shots, as ever.
    I like your new rolling header- which theme is it? Looking forward to more from Colorado. (or Montenegro!) 🙂

    May 26, 2013
    • Those rock towers really are huge in real life. Theme is called Linen – keep promising myself a redesign but time gets away from me – a backlog of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Montenegro posts to come first!

      May 26, 2013
  9. We loved Monument Valley and enjoyed a full day plus two nights there, including a Navajo 4×4 tour into the off-road corners and a full moonrise drive out to the more remote monuments. But I would still happily go back. I’d like to try seeing it from the air next. We stayed at Gouldings which, while not as modern as the new hotel, was a sight in itself with all the movie memorabilia. We rented She Wore a Yellow Ribbon from the front desk and immersed ourselves in all things Johns, Ford and Wayne. 🙂

    May 30, 2013
    • Monument Valley was one of my big wow moments of the trip. We only spent a few hours there but to stay there and see them at all times of day would be great. I know someone who did a hot air balloon trip too which looked amazing.

      May 31, 2013
  10. Very nice photos… looks inviting.

    June 11, 2013
    • It’s such a familiar landscape from films and TV shows it felt so strange to actually be there. Had to take the photos fast though as it was a lot colder than it looks!

      June 11, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Does a US National Parks Pass save you money? | On the Luce
  2. My top southwest USA scenic drives | On the Luce

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