Monument Valley , meaning valley of the rocks in the Navajo language is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft above the valley floor. It is located on the Arizona - Utah border , near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163. Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films, and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, "its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West." Monument Valley is officially a large area that includes much of the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a Navajo Nation equivalent to a national park. Oljato, for example, is also within the area designated as Monument Valley. Visitors may pay an access fee and drive through the park on a 17-mile dirt road . Parts of Monument Valley, such as Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa, are accessible only by guided tour.