Monument Valley
Navajo Tribal Park

Monument Valley (Navajo: Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, meaning Valley of the Rocks) is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of red-sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft above the valley floor.   It is located on the Utah-Arizona state line, near the Four Corners area. The valley is a sacred area that lies within the territory of the Navajo Nation, the Native American people of the area.  The Navajo Tribal Park is accessed by the looping, 17-mile Valley Drive. The famous, steeply sloped Mittens buttes can be viewed from the road or from overlooks such as John Ford’s Point. Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his Westerns; critic Keith Phipps wrote that "its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West."

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While at Monument Valley we stayed at the View Hotel in one of their premium view rooms.  This hotel is inside the Navajo Tribal Park.  Each room has a private balcony which faces towards the East (i.e., the sunrise).  Therefore, I was able to get up early each morning to take pictures of the sunrise.  This picture is of West Mitten Butte.  It was taken just as the sun poked it's face over the horizon.  (See pictures #'s 5587 and 5964 for more sunrise pictures.)  For more information on West Mitten Butte see picture #5811.

Picture Number: CM1_5586

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 200     Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec

F-Stop: f/5.6     Lens: 56 mm

This picture was taken shortly after the previous picture (picture #5586).  This one was also taken from the hotel room balcony.  However, this one is a picture of East Mitten Butte.  

Picture Number: CM1_5587

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 125     Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec

F-Stop: f/8     Lens: 52 mm

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This sunrise picture was taken on the last day of our stay at Monument Valley.  This one differs from the previous two in that it was taken just BEFORE the sun came over the horizon.  In this picture you see East Mitten Butte to the left and Merrick Butte in the center.  The two little white dots that you see in the night sky are Jupiter and Venus.  About two weeks before this picture was taken Venus and Jupiter were in conjunction.  When this picture was taken they were slowly separating.

Picture Number: CM1_5964

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 3200     Shutter Speed: 1/13 sec

F-Stop: f/3.885.6     Lens: 23 mm

This is a picture of a formation called The Three Sisters. You can see the three figures - a small novice going with two members of a religious order into the cathedral to be initiated. The taller figures are over a 1000 ft. high.

Picture Number: CM1_5600

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 125     Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec

F-Stop: f/8     Lens: 55 mm

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This is a picture of two different structures. The one on the right is called Totem Pole.  The Totem Pole rises next to a gathering of thicker spires the Navajo called Yei Bi Chei (on the left) and can be seen via the self-guided Valley Drive.  This picture was taken just before noon.  Another picture of the same pair of structures (picture #5906 shows a closer view of these structures.

Picture Number: CM1_5625

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 400     Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec

F-Stop: f/10     Lens: 50 mm

This picture was taken at the Mushroom Viewpoint.  In the foreground you can see one of the formations that give this viewpoint its name.  In the far background are the Sitting Hen and Sleeping Bear Buttes.

Picture Number: CM1_5707

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 200     Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec

F-Stop: f/8     Lens: 70 mm

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This is a picture of a pair of buttes.  This picture was taken at the West Mitten Butte Viewpoint.

Picture Number: CM1_5810

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 200     Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec

F-Stop: f/11     Lens: 98 mm

This is a picture of West Mitten Butte taken from the West Mitten Viewpoint.  The West and East Mitten Buttes (also known as the Mittens) are two buttes in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in northeast Navajo County, Arizona. When viewed from the south, the buttes appear to be two giant mittens with their thumbs facing inwards.  The Mittens are about 0.6 mi from the Arizona–Utah state line and West Mitten Butte is 1.1 mi northeast of the park headquarters. The summit of West Mitten Butte is 6,176 ft and East Mitten Butte is 6,226 ft in elevation. The Mittens form a triangle with Merrick Butte about 2⁄3 mi to the south and, with Sentinel Mesa, a more extensive plateau, towards the northwest.  The buttes are made of three principal rock layers. The lowest layer is Organ Rock Shale, the middle is de Chelly Sandstone, and the top layer is the Moenkopi Formation, capped by Shinarump Conglomerate.

Picture Number: CM1_5811

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 200     Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec

F-Stop: f/10     Lens: 55 mm

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This picture was taken at what is known as John Ford's Point.  John Ford’s Point is one of the viewpoints along Valley Drive, the dirt road (which is also a bit bumpy) that allows you to drive through Monument Valley alongside its impressive monoliths.  Director John Ford used Monument Valley as the setting for many of his films, such as Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). After John Ford, Monument Valley remained an iconic setting for western films, starting with the first Spaghetti Western shot in America by Sergio Leone (Once Upon a Time the West, 1968), and ending with the recent production, The Lone Ranger (2013), starring Johnny Depp.

Picture Number: CM1_5820

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 200     Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec

F-Stop: f/6.3     Lens: 38 mm

This is a picture of Merrick Butte.  Like picture # 5820, this picture was taken at John Ford's Point. Merrick Butte is a butte located in Monument Valley and is part of the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, similar to its neighbors West and East Mitten Buttes just to the north.

Picture Number: CM1_5824

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 200     Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec

F-Stop: f/6.3     Lens: 62 mm

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This is a picture of two different structures. The one on the right is called Totem Pole.  The Totem Pole is a pillar or rock spire.  It is a highly eroded remnant of a butte.  
The desert sands at the end of the Permian period, 260 million years ago, formed the De Chelly and Wingate Sandstones that make up the buttes, totems, and mesas in Monument Valley   The Totem Pole rises next to a gathering of thicker spires (on the left) that the Navajo call Yei Bi Chei and can be seen via the self-guided Valley Drive.  The structures in this image ("Yei Bi Chei" and "Totem Pole") both hold deep spiritual meaning for the Navajo. “Yei Bi Chei” means Navajo spiritual gods and is viewed as a formation of dancers emerging from a Hogan. A dance called the Yei Bi Chei dance originated in the valley and is performed for healing purposes in a very sacred nine-day ritual called the Night Way Ceremony.

Picture Number: CM1_5906

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 220     Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec

F-Stop: f/10     Lens: 27 mm

This is another view of West Mitten Butte.  However, this picture was taken shortly before sunset.  Therefore, the reddish hues of the setting sun emphasizes the redness of the sandstone rock.

Picture Number: CM1_5944

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 400     Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec

F-Stop: f/60     Lens: 35 mm

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This is a picture of Merrick Butte, which was named for James Merrick.  Merrick (along with Ernest Mitchell – who has another butte named for him) were ex-Union soldiers. In the late 1860s, at about the time the Navajo returned to Monument Valley from Bosque Redondo, Merrick and Mitchell mustered out of the Army. They resolved that they would return to the valley someday and find the source of the Navajo silver.  According to legend they succeeded in finding one silver mine.  However, they were then set upon by a band of Navajos led by Hoskaninni, one of the Navajo’s chiefs.  Merrick was shot and killed on the spot. Mitchell was wounded, but managed to escape into the darkness. He fled west across the valley on foot.  Several miles later, at the base of a large butte, he was found and killed.

Picture Number: CM1_5946

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 400     Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec

F-Stop: f/4.2     Lens: 38 mm

This formation is called Eagle Rock Butte.  This is because the West end of the butte looks like a perching eagle, as you can see in this picture.  This photo was taken late in the day just as the sun was about to disappear behind the eagle's shoulder.

Picture Number: CM1_5841

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 200     Shutter Speed: 1/20 sec

F-Stop: f/22     Lens: 55 mm

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This is another picture of Merrick Butte taken from John Ford Point.  This one was taken at a slightly different location at the point.  The woman in the yellow shirt (on the left of the picture) gives you a reference to the scale of the formations in the area.

Picture Number: CM1_5816

Date: May 2022

Camera: Nikon D7100

ISO: 200     Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec

F-Stop: f/5.6     Lens: 50 mm