- MONUMENT VALLEY and MEXICAN HAT (Utah) -


   LINKS to other pages in this site and to other sites in the Travelling Days series:

Utah Home Page:      Arches National Park:      Canyonlands:
Monument Valley Part 2:      Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake:  
Moab and the Colorado River:      Canyonlands:      Utah Miscellany:      
America West Home Page:      Guest Book:
Colin Day's List-O-Links:
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MONUMENT VALLEY sits astride the Arizona/Utah border but is usually ascribed to Utah. The valley can be approached from the south by way of Kayenta (Arizona) and the Monument Pass (5209 ft) on Highway 163. This route passes the 'Elephant Feet' rocks (below). More spectacular views of the valley are obtained from the northern route from Mexican Hat.

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The Elephant Feet rocks on the southern route (right) and the spectacular view of the valley on the route from the north (see picture below the map).

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The map (left) shows the southern area of Utah bordering on Colorado to the east and Arizona to the south. The Monument Valley site, which straddles the Utah/Arizona border, was home for hunters and gatherers during the Ice Age between 12,000 and 6,000 BC.
    Anasazi farmers later occupied the valley, to be followed by the Juan Band Paiutes. Supernatural powers were then believed to be present in the various rock formations.
    Spanish and Mexican explorers appeared the valley in the eighteenth century and were followed by American immigrants. In the early 1860s, Kit Carson rounded up the local Navajo Indians who had settled in the valley and placed them on a nearby reservation. Many of the indians returned to the area in 1868 to find the valley occupied by silver prospectors. Although President Chester Arthur added this region to the Navajo Reservation in 1884 the prospectors continued to search for silver throughout the following years.
    In 1906 a trading post was established in nearby Olieto but when the owners, John and Clyde Wetherill, moved to Kayenta, the Gouldings established another post in 1924 which continues to prosper and still carries their name. (See the image top left. This depicts the extensive view of the valley from the Gouldings' Trading Post and Restaurant. The inscription on the memorial plaque reads, 'Harry Goulding: 3 Jan1897 - 3 April 1981, Leone 'Mike' Goulding: 7 Feb 1905 - 26 Nov 1992. The Great Spirit has accepted their souls to stand over all sunrises and sunsets and has charged them to make Monument Valley special to all.')

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The Navajo Nation established and manages the tribal park. The tourists provide a major source of income for the Navajo people and a number of Indians continue to live in Monument Valley. As well as rearing sheep and goats,which provide food, and wool for weaving, the Indians also produce artefacts for sale to the visitors.
    The visitor centre at the Tribal Park is approached by a side road which leaves the main Highway 163 opposite the turn-off to Gouldings' Trading Post. This road passes a number of stalls, in various states of repair, run by the Navajo inhabitants.

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The road through the tribal park is very rough and can prove difficult for vehicles without 4 wheel drive. One tourist guide states, ‘…it (the road) is perhaps deliberately kept in such a state to increase business for the many Navajo guides and 4WD jeep rental outfits, which wait expectantly by the visitor centre.'

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Pictures taken in Monument Valley are frequently used in magazine and television advertisements. The valley has also often been featured in western film classics dating from early cinema days, especially those made by John Ford and starring John Wayne. Some major films photographed here were ‘Stagecoach’ in 1938, ‘My Darling Clementine’ in 1946, The Searchers’ (1956), ‘Cheyenne Autumn’, ‘She wore a Yellow Ribbon’ and ‘How the West was won’ (1962). The picture on the left is from 'Lone Star Ranger' made in 1930.

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