monument valley, arizona

Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park established in 1958 and located on the border of Arizona and Utah within the 16 million-acre Navajo Reservation. The fragile pinnacles of rock here are surrounded by mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees, and windblown sand, painting a magnificent picture. The 30,000 acres lie about 5,500 feet above sea level and the park is accessible year-round. Rainfall averages 8 inches/year and temperatures range from 25F in winter to 90F in summer.


iconic view approaching Monument Valley

Before human existence, Monument Valley was a vast lowland basin.  For hundreds of millions of years layer upon layer of eroded sediment from the early Rocky Mountains was deposited in the basin and cemented into sandstone and limestone.  Underground pressure slowly uplifted the horizontal strata, creating a plateau of solid rock 1,000 feet high.  The natural forces of wind and rain and temperature have cut and peeled away the surface of the plateau over a 50 million year period, leaving the natural formations we see today.

West and East Mitten Buttes (known as the Mittens) are two buttes in the Park.  When viewed from the south, the buttes appear to be two gigantic mittens with their thumbs facing inwards.


The Mittens


One mitten


The Mittens


The Mittens and juniper

The Three Sisters resemble three Catholic nuns dressed in habits.


Three Sisters

John Ford’s Point is named for the first Hollywood director to use the Monument Valley location for a film set. The first film was Stagecoach, starring John Wayne.  Since then, many major films and TV episodes have been shot using Monument Valley sites.  This particular site is often used in automobile commercials.  Some famous movies shot here include:

  • Kit Carson
  • Billy the Kid
  • How the West Was Won
  • The Eiger Sanction
  • The Legend of the Lone Ranger
  • Back to the Future III
  • Thelma and Louise

John Ford Point


Totem Poles




Monument Valley


Spearhead Mesa


Artist’s Point


The Thumb


Monument Valley

Outside the main part of the park, we found El Capitan and a unique and charming road sign.


El Capitan


El Capitan & sign for Aghaa Lani Road

Because Monument Valley is not a U.S. National Park, I wasn’t able to get a sticker or stamp for my National Park Passport. 😦


“PHOTOGRAPHY” INVITATION:  I invite you to create a photography intention and then create a blog post for a place you have visited. Alternately, you can post a thematic post about a place, photos of whatever you discovered that set your heart afire. You can also do a thematic post of something you have found throughout all your travels: churches, doors, people reading, people hiking, mountains, patterns, all black & white, whatever!

You probably have your own ideas about this, but in case you’d like some ideas, you can visit my page: photography inspiration.

I challenge you to post no more than 20 photos (fewer is better) and to write less than 350-400 words about any travel-related photography intention you set for yourself. Include the link in the comments below by Wednesday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this challenge on Thursday, November 15, I’ll include your links in that post.

This will be an ongoing invitation, every first and third Thursday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!

the ~ wander.essence ~ community

I invite you all to settle in and read a few posts from our wandering community.  I promise, you’ll be inspired! See below in the comments for any links.

Thanks to all of you who shared posts on the “photography” invitation. 🙂