Monument Valley is perhaps the most famous example of the classic American West landscape, located within the Navajo Nation on the border of Arizona and Utah.
It is characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 300 meters (1,000 feet) above the valley floor.
The elevation of the valley floor ranges from 1,500 to 1,800 meters (5,000 to 6,000 feet) above sea level.
The area is dominated by dry, sagebrush-covered valleys, but there are giant rocky outcrops that make the valley unique.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancient Anasazi people inhabited the valley until AD 1300. Today over 100 sites and ruins have been found dating from these ancient people, including rock art. The Anasazi abandoned the area in the 1300’s, leaving it empty of humans until the arrival of the Navajo.
The buttes are clearly stratified, with three principal layers. The lowest layer is the Organ Rock Shale, the middle is de Chelly Sandstone, and the top layer is the Moenkopi Formation capped by Shinarump Conglomerate.
The valley has wide a assortment of vegetation including, Juniper trees, yucca, Russian thistle (Tumbleweed) and Navajo Tea to name just a few. Much of the vegetation is still used by the Navajos for medicinal purposes, and as dyes for their world famous hand-woven rugs.
Monument Valley is officially a large area that includes much of the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a Navajo Nation equivalent to a national park.
The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park includes hiking trails, camping areas, and a 27-kilometer (17-mile) scenic route for driving around the park.
Temperatures in Monument Valley usually range from 31 to 34 °C (88 to 93 °F) in the summer. Winter temperatures are usually above freezing in the daytime and below freezing at night, and sometimes drop below zero Fahrenheit during the nights.
The valley has been the backdrop for many movies and advertisements, ranging from Marlboro cigarette ads to the films of John Ford to Back to the Future 3 and Forrest Gump.
Monument Valley Hot Air Balloon Company offers comprehensive sunrise hot air balloon flight tours from May 1st through October 31st.