Monument Valley – perhaps the most iconic place in the world

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Indians, cowboys, villains and bad guys, westerns, adventure, Marlboro, Forrest Gump, history, contemporary, romance, love. That’s Monument Valley.

Electra Glide in Blue
Electra Glide in Blue

On January 19, 2018, I saw this breathtaking region: red sand, rocks of incredible shapes. Most of them, however, are notorious to absolutely everyone. The panorama of these rocky giants is, I must use this simile again, breathtaking. Also, the unmistakable smell of this incredible part of the United States is distinctive.

The first time I saw Forrest Gump, I thought to myself as he ran endlessly across America, and of course through Monument Valley, where he “finally” stopped, that I would like to run there sometime in sneakers and “running shoes” too. I did. Zdenek took pictures and a short video for me using a drone. The momentary state of mind and soul is sometimes hard to describe and explain.

No, don’t worry, I won’t try. 😉

Despite the relatively cold weather, the weather was great, and nothing prevented us from enjoying everything thoroughly.

The trip to Monument Valley is a fantastic experience and will remain in my memory forever.

The Soul of the Navajo Indian Nation

Although the area is commonly known as Monument Valley Park, the Navajo name is Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, roughly translating to Valley of the Rocks. The easiest way to pronounce it is to say: Ze-Bi-N-Dis-Guy.

As long as the sun shines, the water will flow, and the sky will be blue. Monument Valley Park is just a tiny piece of the semi-autonomous Navajo Nation, the largest Indian reservation in the United States. The Navajo Nation has its own government and court system that even operates with its president.

Monument Valley Park is located on the border between Utah and Arizona. However, to experience “cross boarding” correctly, you should head to The Four Corners Monument (about 1.5 hours away). This is where the borders of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah intersect.

You can get around the park by car, guide or horse

The park is huge. It offers several trails. And believe me; they will properly charge you.

  • The primary 1.5-hour loop around the highlights: The Mittens, Three Sisters, John Ford Point, Totem Pole & Yei Bi Chei formations, Artist Point, and North Window. $75. However, due to the photo shoot, it will take double the time.
  • All-day grand tour with sightseeing: $150, and you get lunch too 🙂

If you want to experience this authentically, you have the opportunity. Park your car and experience the park in a completely different, fantastic way. On horseback.

Tse’ Bii’ Ndzisgaii

is said to be one of the most photographed places on Earth. The valley is home to towering sandstone rock formations carved into the sky over the ages. They tower up to 300 metres above the valley floor. Combined with the surrounding table mountains, rolling hills and desert environment, Monument Valley is one of the world’s top natural wonders. The park was set aside by the Navajo Tribal Council in 1958 and is managed by the Navajo Nation.

Like Arches, Horseshoe Bend, the Grand Canyon, or Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley has wrinkled similarly. Geologists say this vast landscape of dramatic sandstone towers was once buried 1,000 feet below sea level. Over the next several million years, layers upon layers were deposited, hardened, and uplifted. It’s hard to imagine, but the tops of these mountains and towers were sometimes at ground level. As the land steadily rose and the sea shrank, wind, rain and time forces etched and shaped the rocks into these magnificent sandstone monoliths.

Sandstone monlith
Sandstone monlith


Traces of ancient settlements can be found in valleys and canyons throughout the area. Here you’ll see petroglyphs, pictographs, and dwellings of the Anasazi called the “Ancients.” Anthropologists generally agree that the Navajo people came to North America about 6,000 years ago via a land bridge in the Bering Strait.

They have a unique, complex language. So tricky that during World War II, the Navajo language was used to encode and encrypt messages.

Point of John Ford
Point of John Ford

According to Navajo legend, the Navajo passed through three previous worlds before arriving in this, the fourth.

Navajo legends

The first world was black because there was no light from the sun, moon, or stars. The creatures inhabited the First World had no form and were called “Mist Mist”.

The First Man and the First Woman were created in this mythological world. Their purpose was to arrange conditions suitable for the Navajo. Unfortunately, the beings began to quarrel and cast evil spells upon each other, so the First Man, First Woman, and the people of the First World left and moved up to the Second or Blue World.

Skalné masívy Monument Valley
Skalné masívy Monument Valley

Here they found other people and animals, including badgers, wolves, foxes and pumas. These animals were at war with each other. To add to the chaos, evil creatures from the first world had also entered the second world.

The coyote, a cunning and sometimes vicious creature that always exists in these stories, convinced the humans to leave the misery of the Blue World and move to the Third World.

The third world was called the Yellow World and had two rivers. The first, “Woman”, flowed from the north and south. The second, “Man,” flowed from east to west. However, the first woman wanted more from the third world and wanted the people to move to the fourth world. So she talked Coyote into stealing a baby from the Water Lord (monster) to anger him. As expected, this was succeeded, and Water Monster caused a great flood.

An impressive theater of sandstones
Monsters – An impressive theater of sandstones

All the people and animals climbed up and out of the yellow world and ascended to the fourth so-called glittering world. The turkey was the last to escape the rising flood waters. At the last moment, the waters touched the tip of its tail feathers, which is why to this day in America, turkeys are called white turkeys after that tail.

First Man and First woman

In the Fourth World, at last the deities called Yay-ee-ee, taught people how to live peacefully. The First Man and the First Woman taught the people how to build hogans (dwellings) and bless them with beasts, white and yellow cornmeal. The first hogan was supported by five forked poles, one on the north, one on the south, and one on the west. Two columns supported the entrance, which was always on the east. The first man, who dispensed wisdom to all men, lived in that direction.

Day and night, sun, moon and stars were created in the fourth world. The four sacred mountains, San Francisco, Navajo, La Plata, and Blanca, were made from soil from the third world.

Monument Valley

One day the first man and the first woman found a baby girl. The child quickly became a beautiful changing woman (witch) representing nature and the seasons. She became the most beloved of all the holy people.

The Changing Woman fell in love with the sun and gave birth to twins. However, the fourth world was threatened by two monsters, and the Changing Woman feared that the twins would be harmed. So she hid them deep underground in a hole she dug in the hogan. Not even their father, Sun, knew where they were.

One day the twins discovered a deep hole where they found the spider woman. She promised the twins that she would protect them from the monsters by teaching them special prayers and chants. The twins returned to their mother and told her of the great powers the Spider Woman had given them. Using chants, they turned the two evil monsters to stone. Twins.

Today these giant monsters (Twins) stand petrified in Monument Valley. And that is how this beautiful valley and its indestructible people came to be.

Excerpted translation from Arizoniana by Marshall Trimble (official Navajo historian)

Monument Valley

Must see place

Be sure to attend Three Sisters, Point of John Ford and Totem Pole. If you like to take pictures, ideally, you’ll experience blue skies and lamb’s pike clouds. You won’t take photos of that. The scenery that the sun on the landscape creates won’t let you stop. However, if you stay after sunset, beware. Temperatures drop significantly here, often to the freezing point.

The Navajo are not developers. They value their territory. The towers, totems, and rock formations are still slowly chipping away, but I believe they will be here long after we are gone.

Autentické občerstvenie
Autentické občerstvenie

Hollywood and the Marlboro Man

Monument Valley is also an iconic place because of cigarettes. The Marlboro Man ads from the 50s come from here. Chrysler made A less successful advertisement here, which had a convertible with a model flown by helicopter to a 300 m high platform on one of the Totem Pole’s needles, 3×3 m high. When they put her down, she ended up in a psychiatric ward from stress and fear.

Monument Valley has also been made famous by Hollywood movies. If you remember the film Electra Glide in Blue, Mackenna’s Gold, Thelma and Louise, Forrest Gump. More than 50 movies were filmed here. Mostly westerns. The first one, StageCoach, was filmed with John Wayne in 1939.

Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump
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Anry Lukáč
Anry Lukáč

An ultra runner and an enthusiastic athlete, who excites not only the reš community, but also the wider area with his performances.

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