Coming in to Monument Valley means you need to cross a great span of desert which appears dry and barren. But there is not only a great deal of water under the surface of the land, there is a great deal of water in the history of the valley.
Monument Valley was created as material eroded from the ancestral Rocky Mountains, and was deposited and cemented into sandstone. The formations you see in the valley were left over after the forces of erosion worked their magic on the sandstone.
A geologic uplift caused the surface to bulge and crack. Wind and water then eroded the land, and the cracks deepened and widened into gullies and canyons, which eventually became the scenery you see today. Natural forces continue to slowly shape the land.
Human occupation in the valley today is severely limited, but archaeologists have recorded numerous ancient Puebloan (Anastazi) sites and ruins.
Today, crops are planted in scattered plots to catch most of the run-off from limited rainfall. Deep under the surface sand dunes retain surprising amounts of water. Corn planted there has a good chance of survival.
These are the two rock formations known as ‘Mittens’.
Visiting the valley is a thrilling experience. As you crest a hill or round a curve, a unique world unfolds before you. The present scene is little changed from that which Hollywood fell in love with in 1938 (when John Wayne and John Ford came to the valley to film Stagecoach).
Driving out of Monument Valley, Liz was amused that just after seeing a sign on the side of the road saying, ‘Stock on Road’, she turned the corner and found a herd of grazing sheep. Liz wondered how the sheep knew to hang around the sign. Later, one of the local native people shared that it was probably a local spring which was a reliable source of water.