Monument Valley is south and west of HovenweepNational Monument. The first known prehistoric Indians to inhabit Monument Valley were the Kayenta Anasazi.
The picturesque Monument Valley monoliths are among the most photographed subjects in the United States. To protect the scenic beauty of Monument Valley, the area was added to the Navajo Reservation in 1884 by an executive order from President Chester Arthur.
The Navajo people established Monument Valley as a Navajo Tribal Park in 1958. The Monument Valley Tribal Park is 29,817 acres with an average elevation of 5,564 feet above sea level. The Navajo people manage and protect this national treasure of buttes, mesas. and monoliths.
Monument Valley has provided the scenery for many western film classics, including John Ford’s Stagecoach, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers, Fort Apache, and Cheyenne Autumn to name a few. The final scenes in the movie Windtalkers were filmed on John Ford Point.
The most photographed scenes in Monument Valley involve the West Mitten and East Mitten.
The best time for Monument Valley pictures is sunrise, sunset, or after a rain storm…haze produces spectacular sunrises and sunsets. There are lots of comments on Thefurtrapper website pictures. One person emailed he had been to the same areas, but his pictures did not look like mine. I have been through Monument Valley on numerous occasions over more years than I care to think about. Being old fashioned, I prefer pictures of Monument Valley to look like they did in the fifties before west coast smog blanketed the Southwest…check the storm patterns.
I use a digital camera (Canon SX 60) and Photoshop to make exposure range adjustments to get rid of the haze. Photographic “purists” look down their nose at this…but…an expensive SLR camera does not take a noticeably better picture than a moderately-priced digital camera at the same pixel level unless the SLR camera’s settings are adjusted, or a variety of lens are used to accomplish what can be done in Photoshop. What the difference?
Now, the vast majority of time, Monument Valley haze (smog, smoke) is so bad it is impossible to take a clear picture. This picture of Merrick Butte from Google Images is a fairly typical summer day in Monument Valley, and the haze in Hovenweep, Bryce, and Zions National Parks is about the same. Sad to say, we live in a world of haze and “doctored” photographs.
Merrick Butte was named for James Merrick. Merrick and Ernest Mitchell were killed in this area of Monument Valley by Indians while prospecting. The Merrick and Mitchell families had settled on McElmo Creek just prior to the settlement of the Bluff-Montezuma Creek area by the San Juan Mission of Mormon settlers with the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition.
The Monument Valley article was written by Ned Eddins of Afton, Wyoming.
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There have been many requests for copies of pictures from the website. The best website pictures, and others from Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, and Star Valley, Wyoming, have been put on a CD. The pictures make beautiful screensavers, or can be used as a slide show in Windows XP. When ordering Mountains of Stone, request the CD and I will send it free with the book. The Winds of Change CD contains different pictures than those on the Mountains of Stone CD. To view a representative sample of the pictures on the CDs, click on…
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