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Why Monument Valley Appears In Almost Every Western Film

Ever noticed how many of your favorite movies were filmed in this place?


There was a time in entertainment history when western-themed movies were all the rage in Hollywood. Cowboys were the biggest heroes of the silver screen back in the day!

As fans of the genre often love to point out, one of the things that casual viewers may notice in these movies is that they are often set in the same place. Look closely and you’d be surprised: it’s definitely the exact same location for most of these movies – and the tradition lives on to this day.

Called by the Navajos as Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, which literally means ‘valley of the rocks,’ Monument Valley is located on the border of Arizona and Utah. Massive sandstone buttes can be seen in the area, with the biggest measuring at 1,000 ft.

Since the 1930s, the red-sand valley has achieved iconic status as it provided the backdrop for countless of cowboy movies, some of which were by popular director John Ford.

Here are some western films shot on location at Monument Valley:

Stagecoach (1939)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
The Searchers (1956)

Moreover, the valley have also been prominently featured in different genres of movies such as in the following blockbusters:

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Mission Impossible II (2000)
Pixar’s Cars (2006)
The Lone Ranger (2013)
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

As anyone can imagine, the list of movies definitely goes on and on when we talk about the popular landscape.

Aside from motion pictures, the valley has also been featured in television shows (Doctor Who, Westworld), in manga (Bio Booster Guyver), in comic books (Preacher by Garth Ennis) and a number of video games (Need for Speed: Shift, King of Fighters ’96, Counter Strike, and Horizon Zero Dawn, among others).

Check out this video for more info:

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