Monument Valley History

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Monument Valley’s unique story is one of time and pressure - pressure from both the human influences that sought to exploit the area as well as from the geologic forces that have shaped its landscape. Read More

  • The first inhabitants came to Monument valley between 12,000 and 6,000 B.C.
  • The Tribal Park was formed in 1958.
  • The areas sandstone formations were formed from years of erosion by air and water.

Peoples History

  • It is believed the areas earliest inhabitants arrived between 12,000 – 6,000 B.C. These populations included early Paleo-Indian hunter-gatherers.
    Around A.D. 1,300, it is believed that Anasazi farmers developed a settlement in the area. In fact, more than 100 historical sites and artifacts have been identified from this time period.
  • During the mid 1800’s, the Navajo’s settlements came under siege by Spanish, Mexican, and Ute populations who sought to mine and colonize the area. During this period, Kit Carson, an American frontiersman, began capturing many Navajo’s. These area incursions forced many Navajo’s to flee to the surrounding areas, including the Navajo Mountains.
  • After regrouping, the Navajo’s returned to the area and confronted the miners who had chased them from their homesteads. In the ensuing conflicts, two of the most notable area miners were killed. Today, stone monoliths stand in remembrance of those two miners – Mitchell and James Merrick.
  • In 1884 the area was made a Navajo Reservation by President Chester Arthur.
  • Monument Valley became a tribal park on July 11th, 1958, under direction for the Navajo Tribal Council. The park was established to preserve the areas unique and dramatic natural environment. Today more than 400,000 people visit the park each year.

Geologic History

  • In its earliest years, what is now Monument Valley was once a lowland basin. Over millions of years, erosion from the Rocky Mountains deposited thousands of feet of sediment on the area. Movements in the earth’s plates forced the basin upward, exerting tremendous pressure upon the layers of sediment above. The entire basin became a plateau.
  • Over the last 50 million years wind and water have chipped away at the basin forming the unique sandstone formations we see today.