When Monument Valley rises into sight from the desert floor, you realize you've always known it. Its brick-red spindles, sheer-walled mesas and grand buttes, stars of countless films, TV commercials and magazine ads, are part of the modern consciousness. And Monument Valley's epic beauty is only heightened by the barren landscape surrounding it: one minute you're in the middle of sand, rocks and infinite sky, then suddenly you're transported to a fantasyland of crimson sandstone towers, thrusting up to 1200ft skyward.
Long before the land became part of the Navajo Reservation, the valley was home to Ancestral Puebloans, who abruptly abandoned the site some 700 years ago. When the Navajo arrived a few centuries ago, they called it 'Valley Between the Rocks.' Today, Monument Valley straddles the Arizona–Utah border and is traversed by Hwy 163.