Sunday, February 17, 2008


Beautiful Monument Valley a Navajo Holy Place

A couple friends and I rented a plane in Page, Arizona to see one of the most glorious places in America. The sights from the air are unsurpassed and the only way 99% of the area can be seen. When the three hours was up I still welcomed more of this place.

It is not only beautiful in a unique sort of way, but Monument Valley provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by empty, sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times over the years for movies, advertisements, and holiday brochures. Because of this, the area may seem quite familiar, even on a first visit, but it is soon evident that the natural colors really are as bright and deep as those in all the pictures. The valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat, sometimes desolate landscape, interrupted by the crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region.

The area is entirely within the Navajo Indian Reservation on the Utah/Arizona border with the state line passing through the most famous landmarks. It preserves the Navajo way of life and some of the most striking and recognizable landscapes of sandstone buttes, mesas and spires in the entire Southwest. There is only one main road through the valley, US 163, which links Kayenta, Arizona with US 181 in Utah. The stretch approaching the state line from the north is the most famous image of the valley, and possibly of the whole Southwest - a long straight empty road leads across flat desert towards the 1,000 foot high stark red cliffs on the horizon, curving away just in front.

As well as eroded rocks, this area also has many ancient cave and cliff dwellings, natural arches and petroglyphs.

As we flew over the area in a grid-like fashion I knew I was experiencing one of the most majestic - and most photographed - points on earth.

This great valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet. framed by scenic clouds casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations, providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.

The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size. The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley.

Such a flight slowly revealed the natural wonders of Monument Valley and once again I was reminded of the beauty of God’s handiwork.

“And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.” - Isaiah 7:19

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