Top 10 Stunning Facts About Monument Valley

If you want to witness one of the most magnificent natural landscapes in the world, then you need to head over to an area straddling the border of 2 U.S. states.

In this article, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting facts about Monument Valley, a region that will most definitely look familiar if you’re into Western movies.

1. It’s located on a plateau near a special location

Monument Valley is a magnificent region which is located on the Colorado Plateau. It’s situated right on the border of Arizona and Utah.

It’s also not too far from the “Four Corners” area, the location where 4 southwestern U.S. states meet. These states are Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

The region described as “Monument Valley” isn’t enormous as it covers an area of just 91,696 acres (371 square kilometers). In comparison, the entire Colorado Plateau covers an area of over 83.2 million acres (336,700 square kilometers).

Four Corners region and the Colorado Plateau
The Four Corners region and the Colorado Plateau. / Wiki Commons

2. The area is characterized by high and distinctive rock formations

The region is defined by remarkable rock formations which majestically stand inside this fascinating natural landscape. The entire area is located within the borders of the Navajo Nation Reservation as well, a Native American territory.

One of the most amazing facts about Monument Valley is that some of the rock formations that define this region reach a height of over 1,000 feet (304 meters) above the plateau floor.

These rock formations are referred to as “buttes.” These natural landmarks differ from so-called “mesas” by the fact that they are relatively smaller and less wide. This obviously doesn’t mean that they can’t reach amazing heights, resulting in fascinating spectacles.

Monument valley buttes
Some of the distinctive rock formations in the region / Pixabay

3. The red color of the stones is formed by a chemical process

The other defining characteristic of this region is the distinctive red color of the stones. This lively color comes from the iron oxide that is present in the siltstone that makes up the valley.

Some of the stones turn blue-gray as well, and this is caused by the manganese oxide that is present in these particular stones and becomes exposed due to weathering.

Monument valley red stones
View of the red stones of the rock formations / Pixabay

4. The climate isn’t as hot as it looks for a particular reason

Perhaps it’s the red color of the stones that makes it appear as if this is an excruciatingly hot region, but in reality, it’s rather enjoyable for most parts of the year.

The summers can indeed be really hot as there are 54 yearly days with temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C), but the temperature goes down quite a bit during the night.

The winters in this region are actually pretty cold as well and even though freezing temperatures are uncommon, it’s possible they drop below 0 °F (−18 °C). That’s extremely cold, don’t you think?

The main reason for this relatively mild climate is the fact that Monument Valley is located at a height of between 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,500 to 1,800 meters). This seriously pushes the temperatures down during both the summer and winter months.

Monument valley landscape
The landscape of the region / Pixabay

5. The area is world-famous because of its feature in multiple movies

The amazing landscape has been used in a wide variety of movies, including some of the best Western movies ever made. It all started with legendary film director John Ford (1894-1973) who started included the scenery of Monument Valley in multiple of his most popular movies since the 1930s.

Some of these well-known movies include Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), and The Searchers (1956).

Spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Leone such as “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (1966) featuring Clint Eastwood were mostly shot in the Tabernas Desert in southern Spain.

The first Spaghetti western outside of the United States, another classic called “Once Upon a Time in The West” (1967) was shot here as well.

Monument valley movie location
An amazing film location / Peter K Burian / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

More interesting facts about Monument Valley

6. Monument Valley is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Utah and Arizona. The approach towards the region is amazing as well as it can be accessed via the magnificent U.S. Route 163.

7. The region is located within the Native American equivalent of a national park called the “Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.” For a small fee, you can get the real experience and travel one 17-mile (27 kilometers) dirt road and drive ride in between the amazing buttes.

Monument valley dirt road
Dirt road inside the valley / Pixabay

8. One of the most fascinating facts about Monument Valley is that the distinctive buttes inside the region are stratified into 3 distinctive layers of stones. From bottom to top these are Organ Rock Shale, Chelly Sandstone, and the Moenkopi Formation topped by Shinarump Conglomerate.

9. The region was temporarily the home of uranium mines during the two decades following World War II between 1945 and 1967. Uranium is found all across this region and is derived from a geological formation called the “Chinle Formation” which dates back to the late Triassic Period (237 and 201.3 million years ago).

10. Some sections of Monument Valley can only be accessed via guided tours. These include the wonderful Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa. The amazing sights you get here, including multiple iconic arches, make a tour definitely worthwhile!

Honeymoon Arch monument valley
Honeymoon Arch inside Mystery Valley / Bernard Gagnon / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en