Facts and Features of Monument Valley

Monument Valley's rock formations are noteworthy mainly because they resemble animals or other familiar images (e.g., Bear, Rabbit, Stagecoach) and need no further explanation.

1)Mitchell Butte and Merric Butte were named after two soldiers serving under Kit Carson. They were killed for attempting to mine for silver in the sacred area.

2) The Right Mitten is the site of some dramtic automobile commercials- On Top!

3)The Three Sisters resemble three catholic nuns dressed in habits.

4) John Ford's Point is named for the first Hollywood film director to use the Monument Valley location for a film set. That first film was Stagecoach, starring John Waye. Since then, many major films and TV episodes have been shot using Monument Valley sites. This particular site also is often used in automobile commercials. Following are some of the better known films shot in the Valley:

  • Kit Carson-1940
  • Billy the Kid-1941
  • My Darling Clementine-1946
  • Fort Apache-1948
  • She Wore a Yellow Ribbon-1949
  • The Searchers-1956
  • How the West Was Won-1962
  • Mackenna's Gold-1969
  • The Trial of Billy Jack-1974
  • The Eiger Sanction-1975
  • The Ledgend of the Lone Ranger-1981
  • Back to the Future II and III-1983/91
  • Forrest Gump-1993
  • Tall Tales-1993
  • Lightning Jack-1994
  • Waiting to Exhale-1995

    5) Rain God Mesa was a platform for "medicine men" to pray for rain and contains a sacred burial ground.

    6) The Hub not only looks like the center of a wagon whell, it also is the geographic center of Monument Valley.

    7) Thunderbird Mesa is named for the mythical creature whose form has been etched into the side of the rock by the forces of nature.

    8) The Totem Pole is a 400 feet high scarlet rock formation that appears to be a replica of a totem pole, pillars of wood carved and painted representing mythical incidents among tribes of the Northwest.

    9) The Yei-Bi-Chei resembles a holy figure among the Navajo people. In fact, distinguished Navajo men dress as Yei-Bi-Cheis and dance for healing purposes in a very sacred nine day ceremony called the "Night Way Ceremony". the Yei-Bi-Chei rock formation appears to have a line formation of several different Yei-Bi-Chei dancers.

    10) Cly Butte is named in honor of a Navajo chieftain who is buried there with allof his worldly possesions- cattle, goats, sheep, as well as his horse, saddle and bride.

    11) Agathlan is the core of an ancient volcano. It was renamed "El Capitan" by Kit carson, a well-know soldier in the U.S. Cavalry of the 1800's.