Monument Valley provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by an empty, sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times over the years for movies, advertisements, and holiday brochures. Because of this, the area may seem quite familiar, even on a first visit, but it is soon evident that the natural colors really are as bright and deep as those in all the pictures.
The valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat, sometimes desolate landscape, interrupted by the crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region. The Valley is also the sacred heart of the Navajo Nation. Combined with the towering sandstone rock formations, surrounding mesas, and flat top buttes that have been sculpted over time, the Valley is truly one of the natural wonders of the world. Some of the landmarks contained in the Park include The Mittens and Merrick Butte, Elephant Butte, Three Sisters, John Ford’s Point, and Camel Butte. The most famous monuments in the valley are the mittens (east and west) – the mittens themselves are worth the visit, but there is so much more in this sacred Navajo valley.
The view of Monument Valley from the Visitor’s Center is the one that most people are familiar with. The East and West Mitten Buttes get their names from the way both formations resemble two gigantic mittens rising from the desert floor. When you stop to see this pair of buttes, you’ll also have a great view of Merrick Butte, which is just to the south of the two Mitten Buttes. The triangle shape formed by the rocky giants makes it seem like they were placed there on purpose. The trio stands in beautiful symmetry that you don’t see very often in nature. At sunrise or sunset, the view couldn’t be better.
Location: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.