John Ford’s Point: Western Movie Landscapes in Monument Valley

December 4, 2020 /
John Ford's Point Monument Valley

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

Few places in the world can boast scenic spots from western movies like Monument Valley. Just think of Forrest Gump Point, the scenic view on Highway 163 Scenic Drive on the way to the park from Moab, or The Mittens and Merrick’s Butte, the three monoliths that stand out alone on the red earth plateau giving visitors a majestic welcome to the park. But that is not all, in fact, there is another view so breathtaking that it has been renamed after the most important American western director, John Ford.

How To Get To John Ford Point


John Ford’s Point is one of the viewpoints along Valley Drive, the dirt road (which is also a bit bumpy) that allows you to drive through the valley alongside its impressive monoliths. There are basically 2 ways to reach the lookout point. You can either drive there in your car (or rental car) or go on a guided excursion run by the Navajo.

In the first case, you’ll have to be careful, because the directions (at least from what I remember from my last visit in October 2019) are far from clear, so many tourists travel all over Valley Drive and miss this famous scenic spot.

After spotting the profile of the three pointed rocks called Three Sisters, you will find yourself at a fork with the Camel Butte rock formation on your left. At that point, a sign will tell you to continue left along Valley Drive, but if you want to go to John Ford’s Point, you will actually have to turn right.

After turning right, you will reach a small clearing with some shops, where you can admire John Ford’s Point. To help you get around, you can use the map that is given at the ticket office, where the viewpoint we are talking about is identified by the number 4 (if you don’t have it with you during the visit, you can find a copy here).

Horse Picture and Other Things To Do

monument valley horse pictureThere are more interesting things you can do in this little viewpoint than you might think, including the famous Monument Valley horse picture. Here’s what you can do:

  • Admire and take pictures of the beautiful view before you, both from the clearing and from the cliff, which you can reach on foot (just watch out for horse excrement that may be on the ground)
  • Get your picture taken on horseback (for a fee), posing like one of the characters in John Ford’s westerns
  • Taste fry bread, traditional Navajo flatbread, at the Linda’s Fry Bread Stand
  • Buy ceramic objects, earrings, and Navajo handicrafts (always check that there is a certificate of authenticity) at the shops and outdoor stands in front of the park
  • See the memorial dedicated to Ericson Cly, a Mormon killed by lightning here in the park

Photo Gallery

Monument Valley and Western Movies

john ford point overlookDirector John Ford used Monument Valley as the setting for many of his films, such as Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). After him, Monument Valley remained an iconic setting for western films, starting with the first Spaghetti Western shot in America by Sergio Leone (Once Upon a Time the West, 1968), and ending with the recent production The Lone Ranger (2013), starring Johnny Depp.

If you’re interested in the history of Monument Valley in film, I suggest you visit Goulding’s Museum & Trading Post (1000 Gouldings Trading Post Road), a small museum just outside the entrance of Monument Valley, where you’ll find a number of historical records on the subject, including a list of western movies shot in the park, a topographic map with all the movie locations and John Wayne’s Cabin.

For all the other activities to do in the park (including some fun activities most people don’t know about), read the Monument Valley page on our website, where you will also find information and practical advice to plan your visit.

lorenzo puliti
lorenzo puliti

I am fascinated by the wonders of the world I never tire of going in search of them.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.