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The area is part of the Colorado Plateau. The elevation of the valley floor ranges from 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,500 to 1,800 m) above sea level. The floor is largely siltstone or sand derived from it, most of which was left behind by the rivers that once carved out the valley. The vivid red colour comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone, while the darker, blue-gray rocks in the valley get their colour from manganese oxide.
A very modest $5.00 will get you entry into the park, where the adventurous can embark on a 17-mile (27 km) dirt road route that passes some of the largest and most spectacular land formations.
The buttes are clearly stratified, and reveal three main layers. The lowest layer is known as the Organ Rock Shale, the middle is de Chelly Sandstone, and the top layer is the Moenkopi Formation.