The territory of the Colorado Plateau between Arizona and Utah, which is very heavily protected and regulated by the Navajo, always has countless surprises for those who visit it. Of course, it is essential to make a proper visit to Monument Valley, a place of great spiritual and natural charm, with its impressive natural red monuments of the strangest shapes, the mysterious caves in which you can still find evidence of the ancient history of the Native Americans, with their daily rituals and vibrant religiosity.
But how many mysteries does the expansive Navajo territory hold? How many wonders are guarded by the Navajo and kept from us? Surely more than we can imagine. Today we want to talk about how to visit Mystery Valley, a secret place, as you can tell by its name, unknown to most, but eager to reveal its enigmatic natural landscape and the history of its ancient inhabitants, the Anasazi, who have left traces still visible in the remote region of the Lower Monument Valley.
What is Mystery Valley? A Brief History of the Anasazi
A few miles from the buttes and mesa of Monument Valley, in the middle of the red desert, the Mystery Valley is hidden. It is an incredible testimony of the history of the Anasazi, a Native American culture that mysteriously disappeared (which we have already learned to know when we talked about the park of Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly), has left behind its traces, now protected by the Navajo, who have populated these lands for more than 500 years.
The local guides speak of this ancient culture with the reverence they reserve for their Fathers. In fact, “Anasazi”, in Navajo, means “Ancient people”, or “Those who came first”. It was precisely the Anasazi, whom we can historically connect to the Hopi, who called these nomads from Canada “Navajo”, who basically came to take their place.
The Mystery Valley, besides being a previously unknown viewpoint – sensational at sunset – of the Monument Valley, welcomes visitors to explore its wonderful open spaces, natural arches, caves, small canyons, and above all, the precious and incredible ancient ruins of the Anasazi. Due to the historical, archaeological and “spiritual” value of the places, it is not possible to visit Mystery Valley on your own, but fortunately, there are some tours run by Navajo, which we will talk about later.
Visiting Mystery Valley
If you decide to visit Mystery Valley with a Navajo guide, you will ride in a 4×4 on a road through the canyons, and you will have the opportunity to walk on the smooth rock trails of the valley, to reach some indescribable viewpoints of the Monument Valley.
There are some natural sandstone arches, for example, Skull Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Full Moon Arch, which may remind you of the geology of Arches National Park. Go through them and take the opportunity to take some pictures, because in Monument Valle you won’t find any.
But in the enchanting natural landscapes, you can recognize the signs of the presence of man. Visit the caves dug in the rock and look for the traces of the Anasazi:
- Square House Ruins: Inside a cave, you will find the ancient remains of a house, where pottery fragments and work tools are also preserved;
- Baby House Ruins: In another cave, you’ll see what’s left of a child’s room. Clearly visible on the wall, there are examples of rock art, child’s handprints and footprints and, high up on the ceiling, soot stains, attesting to the use of heating fires;
- Honeymoon House Ruins: A married couple seems to have lived in this cave found behind an archway;
- House of Many Hands Ruins: On the north side of the valley, there are many caves whose walls are decorated with rock carvings of antelopes, war scenes, water-related symbols, and handprints.
Mystery Valley Guided Tour
As we have already mentioned, you cannot visit Mystery Valley without being accompanied by a Navajo guide. Here are two interesting tours, which can be combined with a visit to Monument Valley:
- Mystery Valley Tour
On this family-friendly tour, you will visit the ancient ruins of Mystery Valley and all the main landscapes of the area. The tour takes place on foot (Perhaps that is why a nice bottle of water is included in the package?) and you will be accompanied by a private guide who will show you the history and culture of the Anasazi people. About the tour
- 3 Hour Mystery Valley Guided Tour
A 27-mile 4×4 tour for small groups that will take you to explore more remote parts of Mystery Valley. A local guide will introduce you step by step to the beautiful natural landscapes you will pass through About the tour
Where to Stay
Your choice to visit Mystery Valley means you must stay in the Monument Valley area, which is why, in order to choose the most suitable place to stay, we refer you to our article on finding a hotels in Monument Valley.