Pillars of the West, Monument Valley
Monument Valley is an illusory landscape possibly made by aliens. With sandstone monoliths scattered throughout the valley, creating an unmatched architectural skyline. OK, it wasn’t created by aliens, the power of the wind and rain through millions of years of erosion have exposed the natural wonders of Monument Valley. These beautiful pinnacles of sandstone are surrounded by shrubs, trees and windblown sand all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley in the form of buttes and mesas. The valley has been home to the Navajo for generations and is still part of the Navajo Nation and is part of the reservation today. This valley in southern Utah is little known to most since it’s not part of the National Park System and gets little advertisement and notoriety because of it.
You may not know its name but you’ll definitely recognize the landscape, so picturesque it’s been the background for many movies such as ”Stagecoach”, “The Searchers”, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, “The Lone Ranger (2013)”, “Forest Gump”, “Easy Rider” and so many others. This valley was once the playground for director John Ford and actor John Wayne in there many western movies they filmed here. Growing up watching western movies, cowboys fighting Indians and posses tracking down outlaws, this scenic wonder had to be a part of my southwest national parks road trip.
Looking back, I regret not spending enough time here. During my South West National Parks tour with my brother, in April of 2014, we only spent a day here. There’s so much I want to do here. With my affinity to western movies, I’d love to go horseback riding as if I was riding with John Wayne looking for his niece Debbie in “The Searchers”. There are also some great hiking trails here along with campgrounds. If you wish to stay at a hotel, the Visitor Center comes complete with a hotel and a restaurant along with an information center for tours.
You can rent ATV’s or a Jeep and take a dirt road through the valley, or take your own 4 wheel drive vehicle if you have a truck or an SUV. On your way in or out of the valley, you can stop along the roadside for a glimpse into Navajo culture from the many native vendors selling arts, crafts, Navajo food and souvenirs. It’s definitely worth a second visit.