50 miles SW of Bluff; 150 miles S of Moab; 395 miles S of Salt Lake City; 160 miles W of Cortez, Colorado

You've seen Monument Valley's majestic stone towers, delicately carved arches, lonely wind-swept buttes, forbidding cliffs, and mesas covered in sagebrush. Perhaps you didn't know you were looking at Monument Valley, instead believing it to be Tombstone, Arizona; or Dodge City, Kansas; or New Mexico; or Colorado. And possibly you couldn't fully appreciate the deep reddish-brown colors of the rocks or the incredible blue of the sky, which lost a bit of their brilliance in black and white.

For most of us, Monument Valley is the Old West. You've seen it dozens of times in movie theaters, on television, and in magazine and billboard advertisements. This all started in 1938, when Harry Goulding, who had been operating a trading post for local Navajo for about 15 years, convinced Hollywood director John Ford that Ford's current project, Stagecoach, should be shot in Monument Valley. Released the following year, Stagecoach not only put Monument Valley on the map, but also launched the career of a little-known actor by the name of John Wayne.

Ford and other Hollywood directors were attracted to Monument Valley by the same elements that draw visitors today. This is the genuine, untamed American West, with a simple, unspoiled beauty of carved stone, blowing sand, and rich colors, all compliments of nature. The same erosional forces of wind and water carved the surrounding scenic wonders of the Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon, and the rest of the spectacular red-rock country of southern Utah and northern Arizona. But here the result is different: Colors seem deeper, natural rock bridges are almost perfect circles, and the vast emptiness of the land around them gives the towering stone monoliths an unequaled sense of drama.