kids encyclopedia robot

Monument Valley facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte, and Merrick Butte
West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte, and Merrick Butte
Forrest Gump Point Monument Valley November 2018 001
View of Monument Valley in Utah, looking south on U.S. Route 163 from 13 miles (21 km) north of the ArizonaUtah state line.

Monument Valley (Navajo: Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii,

  1. REDIRECT Template:IPA-nav, meaning valley of the rocks) is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. It is located on the ArizonaUtah state line (around 36°59′N 110°6′W / 36.983°N 110.100°W / 36.983; -110.100Coordinates: 36°59′N 110°6′W / 36.983°N 110.100°W / 36.983; -110.100), near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the territory of the Navajo Nation Reservation and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163.

Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, "its five square miles [13 square kilometers] have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West."

Geography and geology

Monument Valley, Apache scout
Monument Valley, Apache scout

The area is part of the Colorado Plateau. The elevation of the valley floor ranges from 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,500 to 1,800 m) above sea level. The floor is largely siltstone of the Cutler Group, or sand derived from it, deposited by the meandering rivers that carved the valley. The valley's vivid red color comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone. The darker, blue-gray rocks in the valley get their color from manganese oxide.

The buttes are clearly stratified, with three principal layers. The lowest layer is the Organ Rock Shale, the middle is de Chelly Sandstone, and the top layer is the Moenkopi Formation capped by Shinarump Conglomerate. The valley includes large stone structures including the famed "Eye of the Sun".

Between 1945 and 1967, the southern extent of the Monument Upwarp was mined for uranium, which occurs in scattered areas of the Shinarump Conglomerate; vanadium and copper are associated with uranium in some deposits.

Tourism

Monument Valley 2
Monument Valley from the valley floor

Monument Valley is officially a large area that includes much of the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a Navajo Nation equivalent to a national park. Oljato, for example, is also within the area designated as Monument Valley.

Visitors may pay an access fee and drive through the park on a 17-mile (27 km) dirt road (a 2-3 hour trip). Parts of Monument Valley, such as Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa, are accessible only by guided tour.

Climate

Monument Valley experiences a desert climate with cold winters and hot summers. While the summers may be hot, the heat is tempered by the region's high altitude. Although the valley experiences an average of 54 days above 90 °F (32 °C) annually, summer highs rarely exceed 100 °F (38 °C). Summer nights are comfortably cool, and temperatures drop quickly after sunset. Winters are cold, but daytime highs are usually above freezing. Even in the winter, temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C) are uncommon, though possible. Monument Valley receives an occasional light snowfall in the winter; however, it usually melts within a day or two.

Climate data for Monument Valley, Arizona
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 60
(15.6)
69
(20.6)
77
(25)
90
(32.2)
99
(37.2)
101
(38.3)
107
(41.7)
100
(37.8)
97
(36.1)
86
(30)
73
(22.8)
62
(16.7)
107
(41.7)
Average high °F (°C) 40.6
(4.78)
47.3
(8.5)
58.2
(14.56)
67.3
(19.61)
77.6
(25.33)
88.1
(31.17)
92.0
(33.3)
88.8
(31.56)
80.6
(27)
67.9
(19.94)
51.5
(10.83)
40.9
(4.94)
66.7
(19.28)
Average low °F (°C) 24.3
(-4.28)
28.2
(-2.11)
35.5
(1.94)
42.4
(5.78)
52.3
(11.28)
63.1
(17.28)
67.0
(19.44)
63.9
(17.72)
57.3
(14.06)
45.1
(7.28)
32.9
(0.5)
24.6
(-4.11)
44.7
(7.06)
Record low °F (°C) −8
(-22.2)
−4
(-20)
9
(-12.8)
15
(-9.4)
20
(-6.7)
31
(-0.6)
49
(9.4)
38
(3.3)
33
(0.6)
22
(-5.6)
6
(-14.4)
−9
(-22.8)
−9
(-22.8)
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.26
(6.6)
0.19
(4.8)
0.19
(4.8)
0.24
(6.1)
0.30
(7.6)
0.10
(2.5)
0.54
(13.7)
0.79
(20.1)
0.73
(18.5)
0.68
(17.3)
0.32
(8.1)
0.19
(4.8)
4.54
(115.3)
Source: The Western Regional Climate Center

Gallery

Panoramas

Panoramic view of Monument Valley from John Ford's Point
Panorama taken from the Visitor Center, showing the West and East Mitten Buttes and the road making a loop-tour through the Park
Panorama of Monument Valley in winter

Other images

Monument Valley in visual media

Monument Valley has been featured in numerous computer games, in print, and in motion pictures, including multiple Westerns directed by John Ford that influenced audiences' view of the American West, such as: Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and The Searchers (1956).

Many more recent movies, with other directors, were also filmed in Monument Valley, including Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (in 1967), the first Spaghetti Western to be filmed outside Europe, and Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger.

kids search engine
Monument Valley Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.