Monument Valley Offering unmeasurable beauty, there is no better way to explore it than from a Navajo Hogan

The Proper Function

A Monumental Valley 

Monument Valley (meaning ‘valley of the rocks’) is part of the Colorado Plateau and is decorated by large sandstone buttes, also known as Mittens. This monumental valley allows you to experience one of the most majestic and spiritual places on earth. While the landscape is simply overwhelming, what makes this a Proper Function is staying in a traditional Navajo Hogan.


Navajo Hogan

A hogan, from the Navajo hooghan “the place home”, is a traditional home for the Navajo people found in Monument Valley. The Bleesingway tells of the first hogan as being built by a Coyote (a mythological creature based on the animal) and with help by the beavers, built a house for the First Man and First Woman. God gave the Coyote logs and instruction on how to build the first hogan, which he did.Untitled-1


The “forked stick” or “male” hogan was used for religious or private ceremonies. On this particular Proper Function, we stayed in a “circular” or “female” hogan. It serves as the family home and it’s oval shape symbolizes that of a pregnant belly. Nine support poles representing each month of pregnancy while the doors face eastwardly to connect with the rising son. No nails used in its construction, just balanced logs and mud which has allowed this particular Hogan to stand for 50 years. To find a Hogan, you can look for local signs and check out Airbnb.

“Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it.

Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” – Chief Seattle, 1854

A Scenic Drive

The Monument Valley scenic loop includes 11 numbered viewpoints and can expect to spend between 2-4 hours within the park. For the best experience, check park hours and arrive early before the 15 mph traffic begins to stack up.  You will find the beginning of the loop at the northwest corner of the View Hotel parking lot, near the view cabins. The only trail allowed for Hiking is the Wildcat trail which will take you closer to the West Butte.

1Here Are the Viewpoints:

  1. The Mittens & Merrick Butte – Merrick Butte, West/East Mitten Buttes make up the famous formations seen in many photos!
  2. Elephant Butte – The elephant may be difficult to see, but the shadows lengthen later in the day revealing this mammoth.
  3. Three Sisters – A Catholic nun facing her two pupils.
  4. John Ford’s Point – A chance to take the iconic photo of a man on his horse.
  5. Camel Butte – The camel faces west, if that helps you see it.
  6. The Hub – A single solitary structure, 150 feet high, with a cluster of dwellings at its base.
  7. Totem Pole & Yet Bi Chei – Yew Bi Chei is a Navajo Spirit to the Gods next to a 450 foot totem pole.
  8. Sand Spring – A natural aquifer.
  9. Artist’s Point – Less crowded than John Ford’s point. This is where you capture your sunrise shots!
  10. North Window – View of Elephant Butte and Cly Butte. Cly, meaning left and named after a Navajo Medicine Man.
  11. The Thumb – Many say it resembles more of a cowboy boot.

Modern Rituals

The Navajo culture is woven by ceremonies, symbols and rituals, which as a modern society we continue to enact. But, there are implications for the modern day ritual in that they are not recognized as such.  Much like T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party, the cocktail party is a ritual. While most view it as a party, it is a modern religious experience in that people are gathered in one place to experience the human relationship.. So, how can we apply these rituals, symbols and ceremonies to create further depth within our modern-day experience of life? How do we transform the routine into a ritual?


While going to the gym has often felt routine for me, I was able to transform this experience into a ritual. By doing so, my workouts are now personal and the result has expanded my spirit with a renewed dedication. Much like the Hogan, I created symbols within the gym. The four corners of the room,  all symbolizing something deep an meaningful to me. This keeps me present, motivated and focused on a purpose much larger than myself.

Brett and Kate McKay wrote a great article called, “How to Turn an Ordinary Routine Into a Spirit-Renewing Ritual“, I advise you read that and would love to hear how people implementing the ritual into their life.

Code TalkersNavajo HoganCitations

  1.  Franciscan Fathers, An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navajo Language. 1910 Saint Michaels, Arizona, reprinted 1929 by Max Breslauer; Leipzig, Germany.
  2. Beck, Peggy V., Anna Lee Walters, and Nia Francisco. 1988. The Sacred – Ways Of Knowledge, Sources Of Life. Navajo Community College. ASIN B000IYG2ZU
  3. Frisbie, Charlotte J., and David P. McAllester (eds.). 2003. Navajo Blessingway Singer: The Autobiography of Frank Mitchell, 1881-1967. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0826331816
  4. Griffin-Pierce, Trudy. 1995. Earth Is My Mother, Sky Is My Father. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0826316349
This Proper Function
(Approximate Data)
Party Cloudy
2,315ftElevation 13.7hrsDistance From You
LocationMonument Valley
State, RegionArizona,North
Coordinates36.983293°, -110.098882°
DirectionsView on Google Maps


Dan is an explorer for The Outbound and founder of The Proper Function, an outdoor editorial. He is passionate about exploration and can’t stay put for more than a week.