Monument Valley:

Cinematographic land

By Sylvie Berthiaume

 

One of the most real-life film sets, thanks to its surreal geological red structures reflecting on the clouds: Another Navajo territory that extends in Arizona and Utah, 1,695 meters above sea level. 

Although it is a desert full of sandstone-formed colonnades that are more than 600 million years old, there were and still are aquifers water sources for the prehistoric populations and indigenous people, their production of maize, their flocks of sheep and the extraction of sublime stones of turquoise.

Numbered iconic shapes

Although they are innumerable, you never get tired of admiring and photographing under all their angles the rock formations. Among the most famous: The Three Sisters, The Two elephants, the Two Mittens, The Totem Pole, The Artist's Point, The North Window,

The Thumb, The Camel Butte, The Hub, etc.

Even more made famous by the photo of the cowboy at the end of a rocky platform, with these wonders in the background: The John Ford's Point, from the name of the American film director. If you want, you can rent a horse to do the same and stand at the edge. Difficult to resist, especially when you see the horse getting there in the gallop, to stop stack at the good place...Thank God!

Gump Hill

The other place that attracts many tourists, although it is not identified on the tourist circuits, is Gump Hill: If you have seen the film Forrest Gump, you have an imperishable souvenir of his journey on the long road that he climbs followed by supporters, with behind the scene, a beautiful row of the Monument Valley’s specimens. 

Recommended guide: Healthy curiosity satisfied

It is relatively easy to circulate in the Navajo Land and Monument Valley, but it is a good idea to retain the services of a private guide or to joi a semi-private excursion by small shuttle. 

The purpose is to be well informed on the history of the territory, as well as on the traditions of the Navajos, as they were there well before its discovery by the Spanish conquistadors and the Franciscans. For example, it is interesting to:

  • Learn about the matriarchal system - the child's last name is the mother's name 

  • Taste the traditional dishes, including the Green Chile Stew, at the circular restaurant The View

  • Admire the petroglyphs and the paintings of multicolored sand

  • Learn about the foundations of Cochina religion

  • See that a car parked in a field in the same way of the road means that any person can borrow it

  • Discover how the pit houses of the Hogan Village are built-in part in the earth

  • Etc.

 

In addition, a guide with trained eyes will tell you how to avoid the red sand storm or the tornado that is announced in the sky far away…. The short and startling downpour, however, is welcome because, for about 15 years, precipitations have proved to be very rare.

27-kilometer circuit: What you need to know in advance

The circuit in Monument Valley, in Utah, can be visited by car or mini-van, following strictly the well identified unpaved roads.

Motorcycles and recreational vehicles are prohibited in the tagged circuit, but if you camp in the designated area, you can park there.

Apart from the possibility of camping, you can sleep at The View Hotel.

Pets are allowed, at the condition of being on a leash. No alcoholic beverages are permitted in the vehicles.

If you decide to hike in the marked trails, this can be done easily in 2 or 3 hours, at the condition of being well supplied with water.

Cult films shot in Monument Valley

From the oldest to the most recent, here are some titles among the most known:

With john Wayne:

Stagecoach

The searchers

Fort Apache

She wore a yellow ribbon

From Sergio Leone:

Once upon a time in the West

A Genius, two Associates, a Bell

 

With Peter Fonda:

Easy Rider

 

From and with Clint Eastwood:

The Eiger Sanction

 

With Susan Sarandon:

Thelma & Louise

 

With Tom Hanks:

Forrest Gump 

 

With Tom Cruise:

Mission Impossible 2

 

With Michael J. Fox:

Back to the future 3

 

The latest, from and with Nate Parker:

The birth of a nation

 

To see, see again and dream, before traveling there. 

 

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