To travel the famous Monument Valley highway is to literally take a journey through the valley of the rocks. The Navajo meaning of Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii is “Valley of the Rocks,” or is more commonly known as Monument Valley. The popular location is located on the northern edge of the beautiful Navajo Nation. About a 30-minute drive outside of Kayenta, AZ and from Mexican Hat, Utah. This a must-see-spot, not because of its history used a lot in cinema, but just that the surrounding area is covered with beautiful colored sandstone.
Monument Valley is apart of the Colorado Plateau, a region that covers around 125,000 square miles within northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah, and northern Arizona. The valley floor is Cutler Red siltsone, or river-deposited sand. The sandstone layers can be seen in the buttes. The bottom layer is Organ Rock Shale, the middle is de Chelly Sandstone, and the top layer is Moenkopi Shale capped by Shinarump Siltstone. Erosion from the shales of the Cutler Formation revealed the buttes as vertically jointed slabs of sandstone.
Famous and memorable cinematic films have frequently honored the Navajo Nation, particularly Monument Valley. Appreciation has to go to director John Ford, who used Monument Valley as a beautiful backdrop for the American western genre. Yet Monument Valley is not only only known for being used in western films — it has also appeared in science-fiction movies, contemporary action movies, and comedies. Here are 10 movies that filmed memorable scenes in the iconic Navajo landscape:
1. Forest Gump (1994)
2. Stagecoach (1939)
3. 2001: A Space Oddysey (1968)
4. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
5. My Darling Clementine (1946)
6. The Searchers (1956)
7. Back To The Future 3 (1990)
8. The Lone Ranger (2013)
9. How The West Was Won (1962)
10. Easy Rider (1968)
Monument Valley is located on the beautiful Navajo Nation and is home to the Navajo People. The Navajo people have history in the area and consider it sacred. It is always good to awknowledge that the Navajo people identify this beautiful landscape apart of their home, and have a meaningful connection to it. A few Navajo families live within the boundaries of the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and like their privacy from the visiting tourists. It is important to pay respect and honor the people that still reside here and the landscape. Keep it clean and beautiful for other people to enjoy.