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Ear of the Wind: Everything You Need to Know

Updated: Jun 3

Ear of the Wind is a 134-foot-tall arch located in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (also known as Oljato-Monument Valley). Because the arch is outside of the self-guided loop drive (to the south), a Navajo guide is required. It is one of many arches in Monument Valley, Arizona, and the drive here is unforgettable. No hike is required for most viewpoints in the park, making it a great place for tourists.


In this blog, we’ll talk about everything there is to know about Ear of the Wind, including how it was formed, directions, the view of the arch, and more locations to look at in the area.

Ear of the Wind arch in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Ear of the Wind. From florentino reyes.

How Was Ear of the Wind Formed?


This arch was formed in the same way that Angels Window at the Grand Canyon or Wahweap Window at Lake Powell was. Monument Valley used to be submerged in an ancient sea. After millions of years of sediment being deposited, tectonic forces pushed these layers up.


Erosion then started to take effect. Wind, water, ice, gravity, and other forces of nature slowly chipped away at the rock. The softer rock was, predictably, eroded first. The harder rock was left to remain. This is how Ear of the Wind was formed in DeChelly sandstone; the soft interior rock was eroded, leaving just the hard exterior rock. Arches are not too difficult to create. This is why Arches National Park has over 2,000 arches (some are tiny, but others are twice as large as anything in Monument Valley). In fact, Utah’s Colorado Plateau has the greatest density of arches anywhere in the world.

 

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How to Get to Ear of the Wind


If you are driving from Mexican Hat or Halchita in Utah, drive southwest on U.S. Route 163. There are plenty of hotels in the surrounding area, which you can find and book here. After 8 miles, you will be at the Highway From Forrest Gump Movie, also known as Forrest Gump Point. There will probably be people in the middle of the road taking a picture, so be cautious. There is a place to pull over, too, if you want to take pictures. Remember to always yield to vehicles!

Forrest Gump Point and the Highway From Forrest Gump Movie looking toward Monument Valley
Forrest Gump Point

Continue for 13 more miles and you will reach a roundabout, which is shown in the picture below. Take the third exit (to the left) and you will be on the road to Monument Valley. There is a Navajo Welcome Center past the roundabout where you can get more information or go to the bathroom.

The roundabout leading to the entrance of Monument Valley
The roundabout

If you are driving from Kayenta in Arizona, drive north on U.S. Route 163 for 23 miles. Turn right at the roundabout next to the Navajo Welcome Center in Navajo County, Arizona.


Once on Monument Valley Road, drive for three miles until you reach a booth. The entrance fee to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is $8 per person per day. This also gives you access to the 17-mile loop drive. Drive a couple more minutes and you will reach the Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitor Center. You can also type in Oljato-Monument Valley, AZ 84536.

The West and East Mitten Buttes at Monument Valley from the observation deck
The West and East Mitten Buttes

There are 22 different guides to choose from, which are required to visit Ear of the Wind. Tours will be about 3 hours each, and take you to plenty of amazing spots - including arches - in Monument Valley. There are also horseback riding tours available if you’re interested in that. If you do not want to pay for a tour guide, you can freely drive the 17-mile loop on Wildcat Trail, Indian Route 42, and see other fantastic land formations. This loop is sometimes called Monument Valley Scenic Drive. The coordinates of Ear of the Wind are 36.5430° N, 110.0455° W.

The West and East Mitten Buttes from 17-mile loop drive at Monument Valley
The West and East Mitten Buttes from 17-mile loop drive

The History of Ear of the Wind


As the name implies, Ear of the Wind features an “ear” with an opening that catches the wind. This opening creates a wind tunnel effect and gives a distinct sound that led to the name. The Navajo Nation and indigenous communities often name things through their characteristics. We wrote a blog about how Wahweap Window was named by the Paiute Tribe after the bitter-tasting water around Lake Powell.


Ear of the Wind


Ear of the Wind is a massive arch, 134 feet tall. You can see in the picture below just how small people look in comparison. On the inside and outside of the arch, you can see the sedimentary layers with millions of years of history in them - similar to Point Joe Vista Point in California.

Ear of the Wind arch in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Ear of the Wind arch. From EnjoyingVacationsAndAdventures.

You are able to walk past the wooden posts and the “Ear of the Wind” sign to get a closer look at the arch. There is lots of sand that you will have to walk through, but you won’t be able to climb into the arch. The reason for this is that it is dangerous (it’s steep and slippery), and you will cause damage to the arch. This unique rock formation is more than just a rock, it is important to the Navajo Nation. The reason you don’t see any pictures from the other side of the arch is that it isn’t visible; the arch opens upward, which is why it is called an ear.


To the left, you will see a dead tree. This allows for a great photo opportunity; it is one of the most common pictures that you will see of the Ear of the Wind. You can also get a picture of someone holding up the arch, similar to holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Ear of the Wind arch south of 17 mile loop drive, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Ear of the Wind. Photo by dezertscapes_ and not for additional distribution.

It can get windy in this area (and all of Monument Valley), and this will kick up a lot of sand. You are in a desert where there are few objects to stop or slow down the wind. I would recommend bringing sunglasses in case this happens. It’s never fun getting blinded.


Ear of the Wind is less than a mile away from Suns Eye, Moccasin Arch, and Big Hogan. Spiderweb Arch is to the south over a mile away. To the north on the 17-mile loop road, there is The Cube, The Thumb, Artist’s Point, and John Ford Point, among other places.

A horse standing at John Ford Point in Monument Valley
John Ford Point. Picture by Steve Rengers.

In my opinion, Ear of the Wind is the number one place to go to in Monument Valley. Arches are unique, and you can’t see them in most of the United States. It is rare to see one that is so humongous. The other views in the tribal park, like buttes, are more common, especially in Arizona, Arizona, and the American Southwest.


If you go to Ear of the Wind or Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, you will be able to see thousands of stars and the Milky Way (if you travel anytime from February to October) at night. There is almost zero light pollution for dozens of miles, so plan your trip a little into the nighttime.


Bonus Locations


By far the most popular spot is the viewpoint from the Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitor Center. You can see the Mittens (also known as the West and East Mitten Buttes) and Merrick Butte, which are 1,000 feet tall and reveal 192 million years of the area’s history. You can see dozens of miles of the Colorado Plateau, too, with numerous eye-catching rock formations.

West and East Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte at sunrise in Monument Valley
West and East Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte

Another location is Artist’s Point, which gives you a side view of the Mittens, buttes, and the Colorado Plateau. This spot is likely to be crowded, but there will be enough spots for parking.

Artist's Point looking at Bear and Rabbit Summit and King-on-his-Throne in Monument Valley
Artist's Point

A third viewpoint I recommend is John Ford Point. It delivers panoramic views of the valley and buttes. You can see dozens of paths that water and erosion created over millions of years. There are no guardrails here, so make sure not to step too close to the edge.


John Ford Point next to Three Sisters Viewpoint and Camel Butte Point in Monument Valley
John Ford Point

If you want to see another arch, I recommend Moccasin Arch. It is another huge tunnel pointing toward the sky, although not as large as Ear of the Wind. Right next to this arch is Big Hogan, a small hole or arch pointing straight up toward the sky. You can see dark lines coming from the hole, likely from the millions of years of water eroding the rocks. A cool picture can be taken if you get the sun or the Milky Way in the hole.

Big Hogan next to Moccasin Arch in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Big Hogan next to Moccasin Arch

All of these locations are within 30 minutes of each other, so make sure to allot time to see all of them (including some others that we didn’t include).


When Is Ear of the Wind Open?


Monument Valley Scenic Drive is only open from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from May to September, and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from October to April. Scenic Drive is a dirt road, so it can sometimes close when road conditions are bad; a bad storm or too much snow can cause closures. The good news is that Monument Valley only receives 6 days of rain a year - it is the desert after all. The Visitor Center should always be open, though. The guided tours should be available year-round.

A close-up of West Mitten Butte with Merrick Butte in the background at Monument Valley, Arizona
A close-up of West Mitten Butte

Packing List for Visiting Ear of the Wind


Water. This is the most important thing to bring with you. I recommend bringing at least 32 ounces, but 64 is optimal for the tour. You can get dehydrated in the hot and dry air. The temperature in the summer can pass 90 degrees in Monument Valley.


A meal or snacks. Depending on how long you are gone, you should bring some snacks or a full meal to eat. You may not have access to food for hours. Food gives you the energy that you need to get through the day.


Sunscreen. Some of the tour vehicles don’t have windows, so you may be in the sunlight for hours. You will almost definitely get a sunburn if you do not wear sunscreen, so bring a little bottle for your group. The desert sun can be harsh and unforgiving, even in the winter.


Extra clothing. Although this tribal park is in the desert, the temperatures can fall below 32 degrees. The elevation of the arch is 5,492 feet.


A flashlight if you are outside at night. If your tour is during the nighttime, a flashlight or headlamp is a must. There are plenty of hidden rocks and obstacles waiting to trip you.


And last but not least, a camera. Use your high-quality cameras to get the best pictures possible of the Ear of the Wind and other remarkable land features. A good camera also allows you to get great pictures of stars inside the arches, which a phone isn’t great at.


This list does not include everything, but it’s a great start!


Conclusion


Ear of the Wind is one of the best, if not the best, places to visit in Monument Valley. It’s a quiet spot with a great view of a massive arch. The drive takes you through almost all of the viewpoints in the park. Make sure to spend enough time at Monument Valley and Ear of the Wind. It is a truly unforgettable experience!

 

Thanks for reading! If you want to help fund my upcoming road trip across the country after I graduate, consider supporting me on Patreon. Your support will help me bring you more detailed travel guides, amazing pictures and videos, and exclusive behind-the-scenes content. Join our community and be part of the adventure! Support me on Patreon here.

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