Monument Valley is known as the 8th wonder of the world. It is a magical place and, for many, a spiritual place. It is probably the most enduring image of the American West of isolated red mesas and buttes with name such as The Mittens, Rain God Mesa, Elephant Butte and Thunderbird Mesa. As well as the spectacular scenery it also contains many natural arches.
Although it is on the Utah border 90% of the valley is in Arizona. It is known the world over though the films of John Ford starring John Wayne. Ford was introduced to the area by Harry Goulding and his wife “Mike” who ran Gouldings Trading Post.
The unpaved valley drive is the only off-highway travel permitted without a Navajo guide and visitors on this self guiding tour are restricted to the road. There are, however, no arches located on the valley drive. There are numerous tour companies offering Navajo guided trips into other areas.
The arches are mostly situated in four main areas:
Central Monument Valley. Commercial tours include most if not all of the arches found in this area.
Mystery Valley. This is to the south of the central Monument Valley and many of the tour companies also include this area in their tours. However, many of the arches are in a side canyon that now has a locked gate so it is essential that the guide should have the key.
Hunts Mesa. This is a high area overlooking the main valley. It is possibly the most magical part of all of Monument Valley but to get there requires using difficult 4WD roads and so receives little visitation. A specially arrange tour is needed but it is certainly worth the time and effort.
Eastern Monument Valley. The eastern part of the valley near to Rooster Rock is a remote area and receives very little visitation so a specially arranged tour is required.