The Place Where Forrest Gump Stopped Running

Clint Eastwood, John Ford and Michael Bay have been inspired by Monument Valley's stark beauty.  
backdrops of hollwood movies
Monument Valley is a popular backdrop for Hollywood films. Photo: Tobias/ Flickr/ Creative Commons

The flaming, red rock formations of Monument Valley recently witnessed some great Autobots action when a new and improved Optimus Prime and his shape-shifting team of transformers went out for a spin on Highway no 163. Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, the most anticipated instalment of a major franchise that earned a mindboggling $100 million in box office sales, was shot at the semi-autonomous Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley.

Known as one of the most photographed landscapes in the world, this majestic valley is fenced in by four states – Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

The rock formations are a result of millennia of erosion from the Rock Mountains, which have deposited in layers creating the flat-toppedhills that stand there now. Standing 1,523m to 1,828m above sea level, this desert has clearly been the inspiration behind the mesas and buttes in the iconic cartoon show, “Wile E Coyote and The Road Runner”.

The arid land, dominated by the eroded sandstone structures and dotted with  juniper, yucca, tumbleweed and Navajo Tea,is one of the most breath-taking places in the world; not only in terms of beauty, but the sheer size of the valley – 74.4 sq. km – is overwhelming. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that inspires filmmakers – the steep slopes of the large ridges or the vast emptiness of the valley – but Monument Valley continues to star in numerous movies and television shows. One of the most famous scenes that the valley appeared in was in Forrest Gump, when Forrest, who was running on Monument Valley’s route 163, announces that he is ending his cross-country run and going home.

gump post

Even Forrest Gump stopped in his tracks at Monument Valley. Photo: Ron Cogswell/ Flickr/ Creative Commons (

But perhaps no one has immortalised this location like filmmaker John Ford, who shot almost every one of his movies here. Because of him, when one thinks of Western gunfights in alleyways, train robberies in the middle of the desert and cowboys riding their horses, they can’t help but picture Monument Valley.


    Kosha Deliwala is many things: reader of books, teller of incredibly comic stories, and one half of a stop-motion production house. When she's not working, you can find her planning creative scripts with her friends, or in bed, asleep.


Psst. Want a weekly dose of travel inspiration in your inbox?