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A Guide How To Visit Monument Valley Arizona In 2024

Monument Valley hits differently. The Red Sand Desert stretches more than 92,000 acres across the Utah-Arizona border, dotted with sandstone hills and dirt roads. This area is best known for Monument Valley Tribal Park, a once-frequent filming location for old Western films. You have already seen the valley on your television screen. It has been the setting for every John Wayne film, as well as classics like Forrest Gump. But the valley has much more to offer than its beauty. You can visit attractions like the Navajo Shadehouse Museum and enjoy incredible hiking trails.

Researching Monument Valley is really fun. This is one of the most popular sections of any Arizona road trip and one of the premier road trips in the United States. Between red sand landscapes and a scenic drive worthy of Hollywood, Monument Valley is on millions of must-see lists.

How to Visit Monument Valley

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to have a great visit. Get ready for a detailed how-to guide; By the end of this article, you will be well equipped and ready to go. We’ll teach you all about the valley’s top attractions, like Elephant Butte and the Wildcat Trail. But we will also provide all the logistics you need, like how to get there and when is it best to visit. One of the best aspects of Monument Valley is its location, so skip to the end if you want to know how to combine your trip with other memorable attractions, like the Grand Canyon.

Are you ready? Here’s what you need to know to visit the valley.

What is Monument Valley? A Quick Introduction

Monument Valley Quick Introduction

So, what is Monument Valley? Well, this 92,000-acre region is a particularly beautiful area of red sand desert. The valley sits on the border of Utah and Arizona, with land in both states. It is best known as Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which has a beautiful collection of sandstone hills that have attracted the attention of Hollywood. Chances are you’ve seen Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, the John Wayne movies, or the famous “Run Forrest run” scene in Forrest Gump.

You can drive across the valley on the 17-mile Valley Drive, a paved highway accessible year-round. During your visit, you may need an off-road vehicle to tackle a dirt road or two.

Monument Valley Quick Introduction sunset

The valley is full of red rock formations and you can book experiences such as guided horseback riding tours. You can also hike to see places like John Ford’s Point or take guided hikes with a Navajo guide to peaks like Totem Pole or the West and East Mittens. Most attractions are located off the main Valley Drive and there are many designated stopping points to view specific rock formations. You can also stop by the Monument Valley Visitor Center and ask about guided tour options.

How to Get to Monument Valley

Monument Valley How to get to Monument Valley Phoenix Sky Harbor International

So how do you get to Monument Valley? The easiest way is to fly to a major city in Arizona or Utah and rent a car to drive to this remote valley.

Las Vegas and Salt Lake City are the two most famous international airports and are located about a 7-hour drive from the valley. Flagstaff is another great airport to fly to, just 3 hours away and ideally located for combining Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. You can book domestic or international flights to one of the airports, rent a car, and drive the rest of the way to Monument Valley.

Alternatively, you can take an Amtrak train to Salt Lake City or Las Vegas if you are traveling from the United States. This would reduce unnecessary flights and allow for more adventurous, slower travel. You can then rent a car for the rest of the trip.

As you read this, you will be able to spot the recurring factor: car rental. You must travel with a licensed person if you cannot rent or bring a car yourself. The valley is one of the most remote places to visit in the United States. And you’ll have to drive if you want to see it independently.

Monument Valley How to get to Monument Valley Trailer

That said, there is a gap that deserves to be highlighted. If driving isn’t really an option, you can book a guided tour of Monument Valley. These tours are more expensive and you will have little free time, but they are the perfect solution for those who do not have a driving license. You can book day trips to Monument Valley from Flagstaff and Sedona. Budget around $250-300 for a group tour, including transfers, and prepare to relax with a guided tour experience.

In summary, the options for reaching the valley are as follows:

  • If you’re short on time and want cheap flights, fly to Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, then rent a car to drive 7 hours to Monument Valley.
  • If you’re short on time, fly to Flagstaff then rent a car to drive 3 hours to Monument Valley.
  • If you have plenty of time and want to avoid flying: Travel on Amtrak to Las Vegas, Grand Junction, or Salt Lake City, then rent a car to reach Monument Valley in 4.5 to 7 hours.
  • If you can’t rent a car, fly to Flagstaff and stay there or in Sedona. You can then book a guided tour of Monument Valley as a day trip for between $250 and $300.

Best Things to do in Monument Valley 2024

Monument Valley Mexican Hat

The breadth of things to do in Monument Valley is impressive. It’s not just a place to drive and passively observe the scenery, although we couldn’t beat that by driving its 17 miles of Valley Drive. Monument Valley has a wow factor that tempts you to indulge in outdoor activities, whether it’s hiking in the hills or horseback riding in Monument Valley Tribal Park.

In this section we will help you feel all the emotions that Monument Valley offers. Prepare for natural attractions, trails and sightseeing opportunities. These are the best things to do in this incredible valley.

1. Experience Monument Valley Tribal Park on Horseback

One of the best ways to experience Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is on horseback. You can take the circular route, but horses go where vehicles can’t or aren’t allowed. get closer to the mounds. We did it and we loved it. However, we recommend that you have a little horse riding experience.

2. Take a Jeep Tour

Monument Valley Jeep Tour

A great way to experience the valley is via jeep. Book a Jeep tour through the desert and see key sights like West Mitten Butte. Most tours last 1.5 hours to 3 hours. And you will get a hassle-free driving experience with narrated sightseeing. This is a good option if you are traveling with your family.

3. Navajo Shadehouse Museum

The Navajo Shadehouse Museum is a cultural attraction in Monument Valley that is worth a visit. It explains all the culture, traditions, beliefs, and history of the Navajo tribe, including things like how Navajo medicine men pray and what hogan houses look like. Although the museum is small, it offers an incredible insight into the Navajo Nation. And since the valley is on Navajo Tribal Park land, it’s a can’t-miss addition to your itinerary.

4. Visit West, East, and Merrick Butte

Monument Valley West, East and Merrick Butte

If you want incredible rock formations, West, East and Merrick Butte are the best formations to see up close. This iconic trio of buttresses rises from the valley floor in beautiful red sandstone. The East and West Buttes rise over 6,000 feet above sea level and are a spectacular sight to see up close. Climbing formations is illegal, but you can walk around their bases.

5. Drive Monument Valley Drive with Photo Stops

We cannot fail to mention the beautiful Monument Valley Drive. Over 27 miles of highway, you embrace some of Monument Valley’s iconic landscapes and rock formations. This scenic route passes Forrest Gump Point, a.k.a. the famous Forrest Gump Highway. The huge sandstone butts have also appeared in western films such as the Wayne films. It is easily one of the most famous scenic drives in the United States. Allow 3-4 hours to complete the trip, depending on how long you want at each stop.

6. Elephant Butte

Monument Valley Elephant Butte

Famously shaped like an elephant, this beautiful hill is a great option if you want to see rock formations outside of the standard trio. Again, climbing is illegal, but you can walk to the base and admire the natural landmark. Visit just before sunset for the best view.

7. John Ford’s Point

This is the overlooked money shot. It is called John Ford’s Point in honor of the American producer and director John Ford. Ford directed tons of movies, including many starring John Wayne. John Ford emphasized this point of view in several old American Westerns. You will recognize the beautiful view of the desolate, desert landscape.

8. Wildcat Trail

Monument Valley Wildcat Trail

The Wildcat Trail is a 4-mile loop hike that offers the best views of Monument Valley on foot. It takes approximately 2-3 hours and is rated moderate difficulty due to thick sand sections. You can easily walk the route independently if you have a basic level of fitness. Your efforts will be rewarded with close-up views of the famous Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte.

Leave early in the morning to avoid the scorching heat of spring and summer. Also, be sure to bring a camera, as the Wildcat Trail is one of the best things to do in Monument Valley.

9. Climb Mexican Hat

Although climbing is not allowed in the valley, you can skip the border for a few minutes to climb Mexican Hat. This bizarre sandstone rock looks like a tower with a sombrero on top, hence the name. The Mexican hat is popular among experienced climbers. If you have enough experience to tackle medium-challenging climbs with confidence, you can take the via Bandito, an aided route.

If you are not a climber, you can still visit to see the rock up close. Plus, you can watch as others tackle the unique rock face.

10. North Window Overlook

Monument Valley North Window Overlook

Finally, there is the North Window Overlook to visit in the valley. This is great if you want a viewing experience in the valley. The North Window Overlook offers an alternative view of the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park at John Ford’s Point. It is located just minutes from the Monument Valley Visitor Center and is perfect to experience at sunrise or sunset.

When to Visit Monument Valley

Monument Valley When to Visit View

It goes without saying that summer is the busiest time to visit the valley. Dizzying temperatures can reach 94 Fahrenheit in July and August, which is not conducive to desert excursions or long road trips. Furthermore, summer also means a lot of people. It is the busiest time of the year to visit the valley. So if you’re thinking of visiting in the summer, we recommend stopping by at the beginning or end of the season. It’s mostly crowded and hot, with fewer parking spaces and shared viewing spots.

So, if not summer, when to visit the valley? Ideally, you should visit in autumn or spring. Winter can get a little too cold, sometimes dropping to 25 Fahrenheit, so fall and spring are a good compromise. September to early November and March to May are the best times to experience the valley. You’ll have mild temperatures in the upper 70s Fahrenheit and fewer crowds – a win-win.

Monument Valley When to Visit Grand Junction

Also remember what time of day you enter the valley. Visiting during shoulder seasons like fall and spring helps reduce crowds. But you can also be tactical about the time of day you visit. Early morning is best if you want to spend a full day in the park, heading to the most popular sights first. Meanwhile, if you only want to visit a few places, late afternoon is a good time to avoid the worst crowds.

Monument Valley When to Visit Night View

Choosing accommodation in the valley itself will obviously help you beat the crowds. You will also be able to select sunrise and sunset scenic spots from the comfort of your home, away from home, especially places like The View Hotel and Campground.

Where to Stay in Monument Valley And Surrounding Area

Monument Valley Where to Stay Camping

Where to live in and around Monument Valley is a big question. However, there is one important thing to note. There are minimal lodging options within the park itself. You must book in advance to stay within the park boundaries. In the valley there are also various B&B or camping style accommodation options.

Luckily, there are many more options for those who live just outside the park boundaries. The town of Kayenta, near the south entrance, has several inns, while the town of Bluff, near the north entrance, also offers numerous lodging options.

Staying in Monument Valley

Monument Valley Where to Stay

Staying within Monument Valley park boundaries requires advance planning and reservations, but it’s certainly still possible. If you want to make your experience even more unique, it’s worth getting your hands on the coveted accommodation reservations. You can swim in an infinity pool overlooking a beautiful red rock formation or camp in a traditional teepee village. Let’s see the best options for staying in the valley.

Goulding’s Lodge

Goulding’s Lodge is a beautiful property in Monument Valley and undoubtedly one of the best places to stay. Get your reservations fast. Guests enjoy an indoor pool and deck, from which you can see the bottom of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. It’s a beautiful place to stay and enjoy scenic sunsets and sunrises.

Monument Valley Tipi Village

Monument Valley Tipi Village is a wonderful accommodation choice for experiencing traditional tipi and hogan stays in Monument Valley. The village is managed as part of the Navajo Nation and is a brilliant way to invest in the local community.

The View Campground/The View Hotel

View Campground and View Hotel are two adjacent properties located in the middle of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, the most scenic section of the valley with spectacular scenery. Each hotel room has a balcony to enjoy a private view of the sunrise and sunset over the Buttes de Mitte. And you can also discover camping experiences in traditional teepees.

Staying Outside Monument Valley

Monument Valley Staying Outside MV Kayenta

As we explained, the best places to stay outside of Monument Valley are Kayenta and Bluff. There’s also Mexican Hat, a small census-designated place right at the north entrance with a selection of hotels. However, we do not recommend staying here as it has no facilities.

This section will look at the best places to stay in Kayenta for hostel-style accommodation and a peaceful atmosphere. Next, we’ll look at the best places to stay in Bluff that are more luxurious and touristy.

Kayenta

Kayenta is the smaller and quieter option of the two towns. It is located near the southern entrance to Arizona. This is a better option for those looking to take day trips to Arizona attractions like the Grand Canyon or Navajo National Monument. Kayenta has several municipal facilities, such as Amigo Cafe, Kayenta Leisure Park and mainly 3-4 star hostels.

Wetherill Inn

Wetherill Inn is a modest 2-star property ideal for those looking for budget accommodation near Monument Valley. However, it has its homey perks, including a heated indoor pool and continental breakfast.

Hampton Inn Kayenta

Hampton Inn Kayenta is a 3-star property, ideal for those wanting a mid-range or luxury option. This is a modern property with a refined desert color palette, perfect considering the reason for your stay. It features an on-site restaurant, convenient after a long day in Monument Valley, as well as a gym and outdoor pool.

Bluff

Monument Valley Bluffs

Bluff is slightly larger and better suited to those wanting a busier base for touring the valley. It has more luxurious places, such as Bluff Dwellings Resort and Spa. Bluff also has some attractions, such as the Twin Rocks Trading Post, the Bluff Great House Museum, and the Sand Island Petroglyphs. It is located in Utah, near the north entrance to Monument Valley.

La Posada Pintada

Posada Pintada is the first. This 3-star property is beautiful, with traditional rooms, log cabin features, and views of the surrounding red rock landscape. The reservation rate includes a daily continental breakfast. Overall, it’s ideal for those on a medium budget.

Desert Rose Resort & Cabins

Desert Rose Resort & Cabins is the height of luxury. The property features a luxurious indoor pool, an on-site business center and thoughtfully decorated rooms with traditional stone and wood details. You have all the amenities of Bluff at your fingertips and a base to recharge your batteries between visits to Monument Valley.

Bluff Dwellings Resort & Spa

Bluff Dwellings is another Bluff gem. The resort boasts absolutely rave reviews and an amazing mix of rooms and suites. The resort is set in a section of rock formations, giving it a secluded charm despite its central Bluff location. As if that wasn’t enough, you also have a pool, gym, and hot tub on site. Plus, there’s an on-site restaurant for those days when you need a quick meal.

Excursions Near Monument Valley

Monument Valley Excursions Vegas

One of the most incredible things about visiting Monument Valley is the perfect combination with other experiences in Utah and Arizona. As you know, the valley sits on the border of Utah and Arizona, meaning it offers nearly unlimited access to some of the state’s most sought-after destinations and excursions.

You could hike through Canyonlands or take photos in Arches National Park. You could head south to spend a few days around the Grand Canyon and Sedona. You can also take longer, multi-day detours through Utah to visit Las Vegas. There are tons of interesting hikes and destinations near Monument Valley.

In this section we will present you the best ones. Here are the ten best hikes – and multi-day detours – that you should combine with a visit to Monument Valley.

1. Goosenecks State Park

Goosenecks State Park is a beautiful park located just north of the valley. The San Juan River divides the park and contains over 300 million years of geology. Goosenecks is a great day trip if you want to spend a day taking in the geological highlights and canyon views. Choose an excursion from the multiple route options. If you wish, you can also camp there overnight.

2. Canyonlands National Park

Monument Valley Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park is one of the premier national parks in the United States, with great hiking trails including the road to Druid Arch and Lavender Point. You can admire many points of view. There is the beautiful Needles neighborhood and Green River Overlook. Canyonlands National Park is divided into four main areas, including the mesa Island in the Sky.

The national park is just a 3-hour drive from the center of Monument Valley. It is best experienced at sunset, when the red rock landscape is even more beautiful.

3. Dead Horse State Park

Dead Horse State Park is just over 2 hours from Bluff, near the north entrance to the valley. This state park is famous for its desert landscape and breathtaking canyons. Although it is adjacent to Canyonlands, it offers a much more intimate experience, with fewer trails and less than 5,400 acres compared to nearly 340,000 acres.

If you want a smaller piece, Dead Horse State Park is the perfect place to experience similar scenery without the scale of Canyonlands.

4. Grand Canyon

Excursions near Monument Valley The Grand Canyon

Who doesn’t want to see the Grand Canyon? The canyon is a great experience to add to your Monument Valley itinerary. You can visit the canyon in a single day from Monument Valley, taking 4 hours to get there. You can also fly into Flagstaff and spend a few days touring the canyon and surrounding attractions before heading to Monument Valley. In any case, you can combine the two.

5. Visit the Four Corners Monument

This monument is extraordinary and marks the convergence point of the four states: Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. The Four Corners Monument is located on the Navajo Nation and has its own visitor center. If you want a unique experience, you can’t beat this monument. After all, you could say you’ve been to all four states at once.

It takes about an hour to reach Bluff, making it one of the most accessible self-guided hikes in the valley.

6. Antelope Canyon

Excursions near Monument Valley Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is a great day trip from Monument Valley. After spending a few days exploring the valley, you can drive in less than 2 hours to Antelope Canyon, the famous canyon that appears to have rocky waves in its walls.

Because the canyon is sacred in Navajo culture, it is essential to book with a company that offers a Navajo guide for a guided tour.

7. Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is a brilliant hike from the valley. It is best known for its abundance of ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings, the most famous of which is Cliff Palace. A visit to Mesa Verde is ideal for expanding your knowledge of Puebloan history after visiting the Navajo Nation. You can quickly get to Mesa Verde National Park from Bluff, taking about an hour and a half. This is one of Colorado’s best national parks and worth a visit.

8. Arches National Park

Monument Valley Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a must-see if you visit Monument Valley. It’s just too close to miss. The park gets its name from its dozens of natural arches and is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Utah. It is located just under a 2 hour drive from Bluff, near the north entrance to the valley. And you can enjoy fantastic excursions to discover natural monuments.

Look for multiple national park passes if you want to combine some of the national parks near Monument Valley.

9. Canyon de Chelly National Monument

This national monument is one of the Navajo Nation’s finest areas of natural beauty. And as a bonus, it’s just over an hour’s drive from Kayenta. You can take guided tours, learn about sacred sites and visit a cliff and petroglyphs.

10. Horseshoe Bend

Monument Valley Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is another major attraction and excursion in the valley. It’s just over an hour and a half’s drive from Kayenta through the valley’s southern entrance. The park is best known for its spectacular river canyon landscape, featuring a bend in the Colorado River that resembles a horseshoe shape.

You can go hiking or boating on site. Or visit other attractions near Page, like Antelope Canyon.

Visiting Monument Valley

Monument Valley Gooseneck State Park

Are you excited to visit Monument Valley? Whether you visit Mystery Valley, drive the Monument Valley Loop Road, or take a detour to nearby Goosenecks State Park, you’ll love experiencing this part of the United States. Monument Valley is a small section of red rock of fiery intensity. It’s the landscape of the Old West that generations of people have come to love on their television screens. From a tourist point of view it is one of the most impressive rock formation areas in the country. That’s before we even get into the cultural side of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, with all its history of the Navajo people.

Monument Valley Where is Monument Valley

Monument Valley is exceptional; there is no doubt. These 92,000 acres contain so much natural and cultural beauty. You can learn about the Navajo Nation and pay for a guided tour to experience Monument Valley with the Navajo people. You can take a trip through Monument Valley via Highway 163, passing Forrest Gump Point, Hollywood movie scenes, and beautiful rock formations. You can also go on excursions nearby, such as visiting Goosenecks State Park, the Grand Canyon, or nearby national parks. A visit to Monument Valley is a visit you won’t soon forget.

Monument Valley Where is MV Arches National Park

Now you know all the practical information you need to plan a trip to Monument Valley. We hope you have a wonderful time and encourage you to extend your stay to appreciate the wider region and its surrounding attractions. Need a little more inspiration? These are the most magnificent places to visit in Arizona. And we have a complete guide to Utah’s “Mighty 5” national parks. Make the most of visiting a destination located right on the border of Utah and Arizona.

Plan your Next Trip To Utah Or Arizona Here

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Why is Monument Valley so famous?

Hollywood immortalized Monument Valley. Of course, its culture and geology would still have attracted visitors even if Hollywood hadn’t seen it as a movie set. However, its appearance in John Wayne films and blockbusters like Forrest Gump is what made Monument Valley famous around the world.

Which town is closest to Monument Valley?

Kayenta is a town very close to Monument Valley on the Arizona side of the border. On the Utah side of the border, Bluff is the closest town to Monument Valley. Bluff has more tourist infrastructure, with hotels, hostels and some attractions.

Can you still drive through Monument Valley?

Yes, Monument Valley is open to motorists. The Monument Valley Loop Road is open year-round, although it limits its operating hours to winter, generally opening between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. The Scenic Drive is available from 6am to 8pm in summer.

Is Monument Valley in Utah or Arizona?

Monument Valley straddles the border, meaning it’s officially both Utah and Arizona, not just one or the other. However, most of the park is located within the borders of the state of Arizona.

Where is Monument Valley?

The most famous butte formations are located in northeastern Arizona along the Utah–Arizona state line.

About author

Articles

Daniyal is an accomplished travel blogger boasting two years of extensive experience. Proficient in captivating narratives, Daniyal unveils the allure of undiscovered destinations and divulges insights into everything regarding traveling. Beyond the prose, he serves as the editorial architect, seamlessly incorporating editing finesse, SEO mastery, and strategic content deployment to ensure a sophisticated and enriching online travel experience.
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