Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 feet above the valley floor. It is located on the Arizona–Utah border, near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the territory of the Navajo Nation Reservation.
We parked in Goulding’s Campground which is associated with Goulding’s Lodge, gift shop, restaurant, grocery, gas station, etc. Harry Goulding first came to Monument Valley in 1924 and established a trading post and became a friend of the Navajo. He personally delivered photos of Monument Valley to Hollywood director John Ford, thinking that it would be a terrific location for Ford’s movies. Ford agreed and featured Monument Valley in many of his western films, many with John Wayne. You have seen this location in numerous non-westerns as well, for example Forest Gump, Thelma and Louise, Back To The Future Part III, etc.
You can pay a fee and drive your vehicle through a portion of Monument Valley but the road is best suited for 4 wheel drive. We took a tour with a Navajo guide which travels this road plus some additional areas not available without a guide. We were able to view many of the most prominent formations: East and West Mittens, Three Sisters, Totem Pole, etc.
We also took a trip back a little way north to Goosenecks State Park. At this spot, you can stand at an overlook that is 1,000 feet above the San Juan River as it flows toward Lake Powell. The river twists and turns through the meander, flowing a distance of over 6 miles while advancing only 1.5 miles west.
Next stop: Page, AZ