Monument Valley, Utah, is a breathtakingly beautiful region located on the Colorado Plateau. Technically, the valley crosses the border of Utah and Arizona, with breathtaking formations on either side of the border.
Millions of Years In The Making
Its cluster of sandstone buttes defines the valley, the tallest reaching 1,000 feet high. This naturally occurring beauty is due to millennia of erosion and uplift. The formations resulting from this erosion are a mixture of buttes, spires, and towers. The red sandstone cliffs primarily consist of Cutler Formation sandstone which dates back about 160 million years.
The Anasazi Pueblos
The naturally occurring structures in Monument Valley date back millions of years. To some, that is how old the valley is considered. It was home to ancient Anasazi Pueblos who inhabited the Four Corners and areas of Monument Valley. Though it is debated, consensus puts their emergence in the 12th century BCE. Their ruins are scattered throughout the formations and can still be seen today. Their dwellings still contain petroglyphs and pictographs, which are surprisingly well-preserved.
The Navajo and Settlers
In recent centuries the Navajos have inhabited this region, including Monument Valley. The Navajo suffered through harsh climate and slave raids from both Spaniards and new settlers. Monument Valley is a place where the Navajo peoples’ culture has been preserved. It was the first Navajo Tribal park established by the Navajo Tribal Council back on July 11, 195. The establishment of the tribal park insured that the nearly 30,000 acre area would be protected. Monument Valley contains over 100 Anasazi ruins and 40 named “monuments”, thus there was a lot to protect.
How Old Is Monument Valley, Utah?
Much later in its history, Monument Valley was featured in the movie “Stagecoach” which starred none other than The Duke himself, John Wayne. This 1938 film brought Monument Valley to the attention of both Hollywood and tourists, both of which continue to visit and utilize this magical part of the country.
While visitors can drive through areas of the valley, much of it can only be seen by guided tours. Some of the top Monument Valley tour companies are below:
Also be sure to visit the park’s official page on the Navajo Nation’s parks website: www.navajonationparks.org/htm/monumentvalley.htm.