Monument Valley – Legend of the Movies

Monument Valley – Legend of the Movies

Monument valley, legend of the movies is one of the unique and most visited places in the world. It is located on the Arizona and Utah border, and it’s a part of the Monument valley Navajo – many forming pinnacles and balanced rocks – are a recognized symbol of the American West.

Monument Valley | Image Source – Pinterest

History About Monument Valley

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a Navajo Nation park located in the southeastern quarter of the U.S. state of Utah, near the town of Kayenta, Arizona. Monument Valley is world-renowned for its collection of USGS and NASA satellite images are taken from space showing stunning geological formations that resemble human figures, animals, and architecture.

The history of Monument Valley, the legend of the movies runs deep. The area is rich in Navajo culture and American history. For the Navajo, the land is sacred and has been a source of spiritual strength and guidance for centuries.

The first European American to visit the valley was John Wesley Powell in 1869. He had been exploring the Colorado River and was looking for a route to cross the Southwest into California. Powell named the buttes after his fellow explorers and friends, who were also members of the expedition: Captain John Charles Frémont, Lieutenant Joseph Christmas Ives, Major Andrew Henry Dodge, and Assistant Surgeon James H. Simpson.

In 1931, director John Ford discovered Monument Valley while on a location scout for his film “The Westerner”. A few years later, he returned to the film “Stagecoach” where the iconic slanted rocks of Monument Valley are seen in the background. Ford was so impressed with the location, he purchased 160 acres in 1934 and returned to film many more Western movies there.

Monument Valley is located at the border between Utah and Arizona. It’s 30 miles west of Kayenta, AZ, near U.S Highway 163. The entrance to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is open daily from 6 AM – 8 PM between May 15th through October 15th. Between October 16th – April 30th, hours are 6 am – 6 pm Monday through Friday, closing at 5 pm on Saturdays.

Throughout its history, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park has been home to filmmakers, photographers, painters, and authors from around the world. The many iconic scenes captured here have been a source of inspiration for artists and an attraction to travelers for over 100 years.

About Monument Valley

Monument Valley
Monument Valley | Image Source – Pinterest

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. A place where contrasting colors and textures create a landscape that appears like something out of an old Hollywood Western. The park is administered by the Navajo Nation, which welcomes visitors to explore this land between the Utah-Arizona border.

Over time, wind and rain slowly carved the stone into the jagged spires and buttes we see today.

The park is home to a variety of plants and animals, including cottonwood trees, coyotes, lizards, prairie dogs, and pronghorn antelope. The valley’s Mittens Butte and Merrick Butte are both sacred to the Navajo people. The Mittens are said to represent the fingers of a hand reaching up from the Earth, while Merrick Butte is said to resemble a woman’s headdress.

For many visitors, Monument Valley provides a spiritual experience that goes beyond its stunning natural beauty. The land has been home to the Navajo people for centuries and holds great cultural significance. For filmmakers, photographers, and artists, the valley is a source of inspiration that continues to captivate and inspire.

Famous Movies set in Monument Valley

Lucky Luke(2009)

Lucky Luke | Image Source – IMDB Images

The movie revolves around the adventures of the cowboy Lucky Luke and his horse Jolly Jumper. Together, they travel the Old West fighting outlaws and putting things right. The 2009 film is set in Monument Valley and features many beautiful shots of the landscape.

The Searchers(1956)

The Searchers | Image Source – Pinterest

The Searchers tells the story of a Civil War veteran named Ethan Edwards (played by John Wayne) who sets out to find his niece, who has been kidnapped by Comanches. The film was shot in various locations around Texas, but Monument Valley provides many of the most memorable scenes, including the famous opening shot of the buttes rising from the horizon.

Back to the Future Part III(1990)

Back to the Future | Image Source – Pinterest

Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) travels back to the Old West in order to rescue Doc Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd), who has fallen in love with a schoolmarm named Clara Clayton. Many iconic scenes were shot in Monument Valley, including Marty’s initial arrival and his encounter with outlaw Butch Cavendish (portrayed by William Schallert), during which they race alongside the cliffs of Merrick Butte.

Monument Valley Discovery Experience

If you’re looking to explore Monument Valley further, the Monument Valley Discovery Experience offers a variety of guided tours and activities. You can choose from a variety of ranger-led tours, including the John Ford Sunset Tour, which visits some of the most famous locations used in Ford’s Westerns. You can also enjoy a horseback ride through the valley, or take a scenic flight over it for a bird’s eye view.

No matter how you choose to experience it, Monument Valley is sure to leave an impression on you. This iconic landscape has been the backdrop for countless movies, photographs. Moreover, works of art, and their beauty is sure to inspire you as well.

Horseback Riding in Monument Valley | Image Source – Pinterest

Things to Do in Monument Valley

If you’re looking for things to do in Monument Valley, the options are endless. You can explore the park on your own, take a ranger-led tour, or enjoy a horseback ride or scenic flight.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is located on Highway 163 in Arizona, about an hour and a half drive from the Grand Canyon. The park is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and admission is $20 per vehicle. For more information, visit the park website at

As you can see, Monument Valley has been a popular location for filmmakers and artists for many years. The striking landscape provides a perfect backdrop for Westerns, as well as other films. The Valley has also provided inspiration for artists and photographers, making it one of the most photographed places in America.

The Most Beautiful Time to Visit Monument Valley of the Year

Winter in Monument Valley | Image Source – Pinterest

During the winter, when the buttes are in a blanket of snow. However, the park is open all year round and is definitely worth a visit no matter what time of year you choose to go.

So, next time you’re in Arizona, be sure to make a stop at Monument Valley and experience its beauty for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

How to Get There?

Monument Valley is located on Highway 163 in Arizona, about an hour and a half drive from the Grand Canyon. The park is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and admission is $20 per vehicle.

The most common transporation to Monument Valley would have to be by car. The drive takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes (170 miles) from Grand Canyon (GC), Arizona.

When you are driving on Highway 163, the entrance into the park is just after Mitten View, which is about 40 minutes from Mexican Hat, UT. If you’re not familiar with the area, you should keep your eye out for mile marker 11.

If you are traveling via plane, flights can vary in distance depending on where they originate; however, flights generally take between 1 hour 45 minutes and 3 hours 30 minutes depending on your starting point. From Phoenix, flights generally take about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

There are also shuttle services available from surrounding areas that will take you to Monument Valley.

Tips for Backpackers 

Girl Enjoying a Walk in the Monument Valley | Image Source – Pinterest

The park offers so much beauty, history, and culture within its border. Also, visiting during wintertime will give you some of the best views possible!

For backpackers, it would be advisable to allocate 3-4 days to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This is due to the vast landscape and activities available. Considering that the park is only open from 8 am-5 pm (MST), it’s important to take that into account when planning your visit. If you’re looking for a place to stay, there are lodges located in the park. These lodges offer visitors a wide range of services, including restaurants, gas stations, gift shops, and more!

For backpackers not interested in horseback riding and scenic flights, there are still plenty of hiking trails to get out and explore! The most popular trails include Merrick Butte, which provides beautiful views of the valley below; Sand Creek, which follows Sand Creek as it winds through the valley. Also, the Lone Warrior Trail, which is a 9.5-mile loop that takes hikers through some of the most dramatic scenery in the park.

Backpackers should carry their own food and water because there are no restaurants/outlets within the park. There also isn’t potable water available for purchase either, so backpackers should fill up their reserves before entering the park.

Make sure to pack sunscreen and layered clothing as a perfect hoodie as well! The elevation is around 5200 feet, which can mean warmer temps than you’re used to backing home! Hats, sunglasses, and covered shoes are also ideal if you plan on hiking any of Monument Valley’s trails.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park has plenty to offer whether you bring a car. Moreover, you can take a shuttle from one of the surrounding towns. It will be an experience that you won’t forget; we promise you that!


Monument Valley, the legend of the movies has been a popular filming location for many years, serving as the backdrop for movies such as “Back to the Future III” and “Forrest Gump.” The striking landscape provides the perfect setting for Westerns, as well as other films. The Valley has also served as inspiration for artists and photographers, making it one of the most photographed places in America. If you’re looking to explore Monument Valley further, the Monument Valley Discovery Experience offers a variety of guided and activities.

Plan your next trip to this iconic location and experience the beauty and majesty of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park! Don’t forget to pack these 15 things in your backpack!

Lauren De Almeida

Lauren De Almeida

I am a passionate author. I like traveling and hence contribute to this travel blog with interest. Moreover, I enjoy writing articles on travel, cuisine, lifestyle, and culture. For me, this is an interesting art to explore new places, meet new people and learn about their lifestyles. All my publishing on this site contributes to encouraging everyone out there to get out and explore the world around you. Through this site, I intend on delivering the latest travel news, updates, and other interesting information to readers. Enjoy!

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