Monument Valley at the northern border of Arizona to Utah is best known for the featured image. But the Navajo Tribal Park offers many more perspectives…
Mitchell Butte on the way to the main entrance of Monument Valley Park.
Entering the Navajo Volcanic Field from the south the geological erosion in all it´s forms is clearly visible. Most solid are the so called “Mesa” (to the right), a rock formation which looks like a table. The second stage of erosion are defined as “Butte” which can be seen in the middle of the picture above. And victim of more erosion are the so called “Spire”, which look like toothpics.From the platform of the visitor center of the Navajo Tribal Park this iconic shot has been taken millions of times.It shows the West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte and the Merrick Butte. The East and Western Mitten Buttes look like hands, yet it signifies spiritual beings watching over it, so the explanation by the Navaja People, who manage the Park, in their little handout. Merrick Butte and Mitchell Mesa are named after two men, who worked under General Custer, who defeated the Navajo in 1864.
Driving down into the valley changes the perspective and gives a better feeling for the dimensions. The picture above shows the “Elephant Butte”. And the rock formation in the following picture is called “Three Sisters”, showing a Nun facing her two pupils. Use your imagination…
Below the “Three Sisters” is a place called John Ford’s Point. It is named after a Hollywood director, who made John Wayne famous. Easy to image John Wayne riding into the scene…
The unpaved road takes you around the Rain God Mesa, which is the geological center of the park. Navajo medicine men pray and give thanks to the Rain God, who stored water to the people. To the right side and to the south is Thunderbird Mesa.
Driving through between both Mesas the valley opens up again and gives view to the “Yei Bi Chei” (Navajo Spiritual Gods), a formation of dancers. Further to the left is “Totem Pole”, a good example of erosion.Turning north again gives opens differents perspectives on Rain God Mesa from the east and to the Buttes from the pictures above. The picture above shows the Elephant Butte from the back, the Cly Butte on the right and in the middle “The Thumb”, a free standing spire.
Last stop is the Artist Point Overlook which gives a wonderfull view to the northwest with Spearhead Mesa as a border to the right.
While driving up again to the visitor plateau the clouds opened up and I took the following picture of the West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Buttte and Merrick Butte from the bottom of the valley with the last minutes of sunlight.
No luck then from the top. Fading sunlight was not hitting the Buttes , but the full moon of late May 2016 came out. So there is reason to come back to Monument Valley.