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Monument Valley is located across the border of Arizona and Utah.
Monument Valley is considered one of the most photographed places on Earth. The massive sandstone formations soaring over the desert floor make the area look so beautiful.
These rock formations are not big rocks, canyons, or even mountains, they are considered monuments. There are buttes all around the place that have names such as North Window, Elephant Butte, and Mittens, and the renowned director John Ford has featured the place so many times in his movies, that one butte is even named after him; John Ford's Point. Read on to know more about Monument Valley.
Monument Valley already has a desert climate which is rough and climate change is affecting the lifestyles of all people living in the area.
The weather of Monument Valley is similar to deserts with hot summers and cold winters. However, the climate is warming up owing to global warming.
On average, the temperature in the valley stays above 90 F (32 C) for 54 days. The highest temperature in the summer each year rarely exceeds 100 F (37.8 C).
Summer nights become comfortably cool as the temperature drops rapidly after sunset and the winters are usually cold, but not below freezing point at all times.
According to a 2011 Redsteer study, the sand dunes of the southwestern corner of the Navajo Nation's reservation are moving at a rate of around 115 ft (35 m) each year.
The movement of sand dunes is usually stopped by vegetation, but as most of that has died owing to drought, many people are being forced to relocate.
According to a UN case study, snowfall all around the Navajo Nation dropped from around 31 in (78.7 cm) in 1930 to around 11 in (28 cm) in 2010.
A 2013 National Climate Assessment technical report named the southwest as one of North America's most 'climate challenged' areas and the Four Corners was especially complicated.
The southwest has reportedly been warmer during the last 65 years than it had been in the 600 years before and the situation is expected to get worse.
In the last 60 years, the southwest has suffered dry and wet climate swings, but for the last two decades, drought has been dominating the area.
The Monument Valley borders Utah and Arizona, so the effects of climate change in these states clearly depict the situation in the valley.
Arizona is warming fastest among all states in the country as the average temperature has increased around 0.6 degrees every decade since 1970.
Utah's temperature has increased around two degrees within the past century with frequent heatwaves and winter snow melting at a faster rate.
Utah's flow of water will decrease, wildfires will increase, and the productivity of farms and ranches will decrease with the growing temperatures.
Monument Valley not only holds lots of evidence of the powers of nature, but it also holds a lot of cinematic and cultural history.
The Ancestral Puebloans or the Anasazi were the earliest people to settle in the Monument Valley region around 1200 BCE.
The Anasazi natives left artworks in form of petroglyphs and pictographs in the area. These artworks are windows to their culture.
People of Navajo culture took up the land centuries later and today their 250000 descendants live in the Navajo Nation, which can give you a peek into their culture.
Navajo Tribal Council set aside 92000 acres (37231 ha) of area for the Navajo Nation reservation in 1958 where sandstone rock formations soar 400-1000 ft (122-305 m) above the valley floor.
After people of Navajo culture settled in, they were mostly busy fighting and establishing their territory rather than enjoying the beauty of the area.
The Spaniards came to the area in 1958 and more Euro-Americans followed. They tried to take the land from the natives.
As the Europeans tried to invade the land, they failed and people of the Navajo culture remained, so now hundreds of thousands of their descendants live there.
Since the '30s, Monument Valley has been featured in advertising, television, and artwork as a symbolic feature of the Wild West.
Starting with the movie 'Stagecoach' (1939) starring John Wayne, the renowned director, John Ford used the area for many of his movies.
There have been video games invented with the name 'Monument Valley' and the area has appeared in famous movies, like 'Fort Apache', 'Forrest Gump', and 'Back to the Future 3'.
John Ford had featured the area for so many of his movies that one of the rock formations had even been named after him, called John Ford’s Point.
The Monument Valley formed back in the Permian period and the place was once a part of the seafloor.
The piled-up sandstones and sediments of the ocean were piled up for millions of years. Later, tectonic forces raised these piles up and created the valley.
Monument Valley carries eons of history, geographical and geological evidence of the destructive and constructive power of nature through the beautiful sandstone rock formations.
Monument Valley is a kind of national park with 17 million acres (6.8 million ha) of the area which is a part of Navajo Nation territory. The area is larger than even Arches National Park.
The valley floor elevation range is about 5000-6000 ft (1524-1829 m) above sea level and the largest butte stands about 1000 ft (305 m) above the valley floor.
The basic rock formations of the area formed because of geologic uplift and sandstone deposits which then were shaped by years of water and wind.
People of Navajo culture have always used the vegetation of the land to make their popular hand-woven rugs and for medicinal needs.
Monument Valley is full of beautiful and necessary vegetation, like Tumbleweed or Russian thistle, Juniper Trees, Navajo Tea, and Yucca.
The tall rock structures and large open spaces mean that the natural beauty of the valley is easily enjoyable, especially through the desert by Valley Drive.
Valley Drive, a dirt road, goes by the Arizona side of Monument Valley through the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.
Valley Drive is quite a scenic route that goes on for around 17 mi (27 km) and you will find 11 visitors' stopping points.
Every stopping point of the area has designated names and numbered signs to help with navigation. These names are North Window, Yei be Chei and Totem Pole, Camel Butte, Three Sisters, Merrick Butte, and Mitten Buttes, The Thumb, Artist's Point, The Hub, John Ford’s Point, and Elephant Butte.
You can reserve a guided tour to watch the border of Utah and Arizona around the corner, Hunts Mesa, and Mystery Valley.
The area is full of valleys that are covered by dry sagebrush. However, there are also many massive rocky outcrops that have given the valley its uniqueness.
The buttes have three layers; Organ Rock Shale, the lowest layer; Chelly Sandstone, the middle layer; Moenkopi Formation, the top layer, and lastly capped by Shinarump Conglomerate.
Q: What is the significance of Monument Valley?
A: Monument Valley holds eons of evidence of the destructive and constructive powers of nature.
Q: How was Monument Valley formed?
A: Mountain Valley was a part of the seafloor. Later, the layers of piled-up rocks and sediments got raised up by tectonic forces which became the Mountain Valley.
Q: How do you see Monument Valley?
A: You can see Monument Valley if you are on United States Highway 163.
Q: How far is Monument Valley from Moab?
A: Monument Valley is around 151.5 mi (243.8 km) away from Moab and it takes about three hours by car on average to reach.
Q: Where can you stay near Monument Valley, Utah?
A: There are a few hotels near Monument Valley where you can stay while visiting the place.
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