How to visit Monument Valley (for a taste of the Wild West) - A Globe Well Travelled (2024)

This post was originally published on A Globe Well Travelled in 2017. The content has been revised and updated with fresh information.

Monument Valley has been on my to-do list since literally forever.

Ever since my first visit to the US back in 2009, I’ve wanted to visit the iconic desert destination, but somehow it never quite fit into my travel plans… until now. This year, Rob and I decided to do asouthwest road tripjust after summer, and I made sure that Monument Valley was locked in to our itinerary.

We were initially going to drive through the valley and not spend much time there, but I’m so glad that we ended up staying overnight! There was something extremely special about my experience sleeping in the desert. If you’re looking for a taste of the wild west, here’s how to visit Monument Valley!

How to visit Monument Valley (for a taste of the Wild West) - A Globe Well Travelled (1)

How to get toMonument Valley:

Monument Valley is in southeast Utah, right near the Arizona border. It’s not particularly near any major cities or airports which makes it a little tricky to get to. The closest major airports are Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, both of which are about 7 hours drive away. If you want to fly somewhere closer, then Flagstaff AZ would be your best bet as it’s only 3 hours drive away.

The drive into Monument Valley is via Highway 163 from the north through Utah, or the south through Arizona. Rob and I were coming from Mesa Verde in Colorado so we rented a car in Denver and drove in via the north (which is where we got that phenomenal view pictured above!) then drove out via the south on our way to Page AZ.

If you’re interested in seeing Monument Valley as part of a multi-day tour, here are a few options:

When to visit Monument Valley:

Temperatures in Monument Valley range drastically from 68-94°F (20-34°C) in July to 25-42°F (-4-5°C) in January.The shoulder seasons are probably the best time to visit if you want to avoid the summer crowds.

Most people will drive through Monument Valley in the middle of the day, but I think the best time to visit is the early morning or late afternoon. The rocks seem to change colour throughout the day and I definitely think sunrise and sunset was when they looked their best.

How to visit Monument Valley (for a taste of the Wild West) - A Globe Well Travelled (2)

Accommodation in Monument Valley:

I stayed in a teepee at the Monument Valley Tipi Village. This place is run by a Navajo family, and it’s actually just a regular campground. There are a few powered sites for caravans, some unpowered sites for tents, and about 8 teepees scattered around the site. The teepees cost $90 USD per night during the summer season. If this sounds interesting, you can read all about our desert glamping experience in Monument Valley.

There are other accommodation options if glamping isn’t your thing. Goulding’s Lodge is one of the most popular as it has rooms that have amazing views of the desert.The View Hotel is another option with hotel rooms and cabins. This is the only hotel inside of the Navajo Park.

If you’re going to book either of these hotels, be sure to reserve your room far in advance as they book up quickly.

Where to eat in Monument Valley:

There are a few restaurant options in Monument Valley. We ended up eating at Goulding’s Lodge restaurant for lunch when we first arrived. This restaurant was large and had amazing views. The food was ok – it mostly consisted of the deep-fried American foods that you’d expect from a restaurant in the middle of literally nowhere.

According to the Goulding’s website there is a coffee shop on site, though I didn’t see this when I was there.There is also a grocery store near the Goulding’s campsite that you can go to for supplies. We ended up stocking up on crackers and hummus to take back to our teepee for dinner.

As far as I can tell, the only other option for food at Monument Valley is The View Restaurant, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seeing as this is the only place inside the Navajo Park, I imagine it’s the most popular.

How to visit Monument Valley (for a taste of the Wild West) - A Globe Well Travelled (3)

Things to do in Monument Valley:

There are loads of activities in Monument Valley. Start with the Monument Valley Visitor Center, which has awesome views of the mesas and buttes (ie. the massive rocks!). This is inside the Navajo Park, and the entrance fee is $20 USD per vehicle (for up to 4 people).

Self-drive loop:

Start at the visitor center, then drive along the only road. The road is a 17-mile dirt loop that takes you in and around the mesas. There are numerous stops along the way where you can pull over for photos or buy wares from the Navajo people.

Valley tour:

You can choose to do the loop as part of aMonument Valley backcountry tour, which is what we ended up doing. There are definitely benefits to doing a tour with a Navajo guide over the self-drive loop:

  • You get to sit in the back of a truck while your guide drives through the desert. Feeling the air and dust on your skin makes you feel more connected with the land instead of being closed up inside a car.
  • You get to visit restricted areas of the park which are available only to guided tours. These areas are pretty special and include spiritual sites and rock monuments where your Navajo guide will play music. This was definitely my favourite part of the tour.
  • Your Navajo guide will point out all the best viewpoints for photos, and will also be happy to take photos of you.

My thoughts on the tour was that it’s expensive considering half of the tour is doing the same stuff as the self-drive loop, BUT I honestly think that you just can’t get the same experience doing it yourself, so the cost was worth it. If you want the full Monument Valley desert experience, the tour is going to be the best option.

How to visit Monument Valley (for a taste of the Wild West) - A Globe Well Travelled (4)

Goulding’s Museum:

This museum was tiny and the entrance fee was by donation, so it’s one of the cheapest activities in Monument Valley. The museum had information about the history of the lodge and movie posters from all the films that have been set in the area.

Wildcat Trail hike:

This 4-mile roundtrip hike starts at The View Campground and descends 900 feet to the valley floor and then takes you around one of the buttes.

Forrest Gump:

You can stop at theForrest Gump filming location where he completed his run in the movie! There’s even a sign commemorating it beside the highway.

How to visit Monument Valley (for a taste of the Wild West) - A Globe Well Travelled (5)

Tips for visiting Monument Valley:

Stay hydrated:It goes without saying: The desert is dry AF. Stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up by having a water bottle (like aStanley from Stonex) and some snacks with you at all times.

What to bring:During the summer, Monument Valley can get extremely hot. Take sunscreen and a hat with you during the day, and if you’ll be there after the sun sets, have a warm jacket on hand as it will get cool at night. Also note that everything you wear will be covered in a layer of red dust afterwards! Don’t worry, it will wash out.

Gas stations:Gas stations are sparse throughout Monument Valley. There is one station near Goulding’s Lodge, then the next station in either direction is about 20-25 miles away.

Cell signal: There is cell signal at certain points in Monument Valley, though there are also dead zones. I couldn’t get any signal from our campground, though it didn’t bother me that much as I was getting into the off-grid experience!

Read more posts about the USA

How to visit Monument Valley (for a taste of the Wild West) - A Globe Well Travelled (2024)


How to visit Monument Valley (for a taste of the Wild West) - A Globe Well Travelled? ›

Self-drive loop:

Can you tour Monument Valley on your own? ›

Yes, you can tour Monument Valley on your own.

This entails driving the 17-mile loop and planning your own itinerary. Alternatively, you can book a tour that will take you around the area. The unique, red rock formations of Monument Valley make it easy to see why it's so popular with tourists.

How long does it take to do the scenic drive at Monument Valley? ›

A self-guided Monument Valley tour on the scenic drive should take between two and four hours, depending on how long you spend at each overlook.

What is the best way to get to Monument Valley? ›

In summary, your options to get to the valley are as follows: If you are short on time and want cheap flights, Fly to Salt Lake City or Las Vegas and then rent a car to drive 7 hours to Monument Valley. If you are short on time, Fly to Flagstaff and then rent a car to drive 3 hours to Monument Valley.

What is the best time to visit Monument Valley? ›

Fall and spring are the best times to visit Monument Valley. This is when temperatures are most pleasant. If you are looking for warm days and comfortable nights, we recommend September as the best month to visit Monument Valley. Monument Valley is cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

Which tour is best at Monument Valley? ›

Our most recommended things to do in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
  • Monument Valley: Sunset Tour with Navajo Guide. ...
  • Monument Valley: Backcountry Jeep Tour with Navajo Guide. ...
  • Monument Valley: Scenic 2.5-Hour Guided Tour. ...
  • Monument Valley: Highlights Tour with Backcountry Access.

Is a guided tour of Monument Valley worth it? ›

Whether you prefer solo exploring or traveling as part of a guided tour, Monument Valley has much to offer and is well worth your time. With its red rock formations, sandy plains, and desert landscapes, it's easy to see why this area has been the backdrop of some of Hollywood's most iconic films.

Is it worth staying overnight at Monument Valley? ›

Short answer to this would be - definitely yes.

Staying overnight in Monument Valley offers an experience that goes beyond the typical day trip, allowing visitors to witness the park in all its changing lights and moods.

What is the closest city to Monument Valley? ›

The nearest town to Monument Valley is Mexican Hat, a short drive to the northeast on U.S. 163. For more lodging and dining options, continue along this same highway for another 20 minutes to reach Bluff.

Can you drive your own car in Monument Valley? ›

If you're planning a trip near the region, a self-guided drive through Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park will bring you the best of nature's wonderland–from gorgeous red rock creations to towering spires and buttes. And if you're wondering can you drive through Monument Valley, the answer is yes, and it's easy to do!

What to wear to Monument Valley tour? ›

Also, wear appropriate attire as the weather is unpredictable and can change at any time. Wearing a hat, t-shirt, long sleeves and tennis shoes will keep you comfortable and avoid the elements. Including, staying hydrated and have water on you at all times which makes you less prone to heat exhaustion and dehydration.

How long do you need to stay in Monument Valley? ›

Immersing in the Landscape: A Full Experience

To truly immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of Monument Valley, consider spending a night or two. Staying overnight allows you to experience the sunset and sunrise, which are absolutely magical here.

How do you save progress in Monument Valley? ›

Monument Valley uses Apple's built-in iCloud service to backup and restore your save progress. Ensure you're logged into the same iCloud account on all of your devices, and connected to the Internet. All the rest will happen as if by magic.

Can you do Monument Valley without a tour? ›

The Mittens and the Valley Drive dirt road. Please note: if it rains, this road can become impassable, even if you have four-wheel drive. This is the only part of Monument Valley you can visit without taking a tour. To go off the Valley Drive and explore further, you must schedule a tour with one of the many companies.

How long does it take to drive the loop in Monument Valley? ›

The drive through Monument Valley covers a 17-mile (27 km) loop road. Most people spend about 3 hours driving through the valley, but some people spend as little as 2 hours or even longer than 4 hours, and basically it all depends on you and how much time do you want to spend at Monument Valley.

What is so special about Monument Valley? ›

The giant sandstone formations that tower over the desert floor are unique structures you don't see every day! They aren't mere mountains, or canyons, or even just big rocks, but something totally different–they are monuments to the power of nature.

Can you hike in Monument Valley without a guide? ›

The Wildcat Trail is the only self-guided trail in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, but the route offers some world-class scenery as it takes hikers for a walk through the world-famous Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte.

Can you see Monument Valley without paying? ›

1) Tour the Highway to Forrest Gump Point

It's certainly possible to have a great experience in Monument Valley without leaving US Highway 163. This is the only completely free option. You'll get a sense of the region when simply driving between Kayenta, AZ and Mexican Hat, UT.

Are you allowed to drive through Monument Valley? ›

Private vehicles are allowed to enter the park as far as the main viewpoint at the visitor center. In addition, 25 private vehicles at a time are allowed on the 17-mile Tribal Valley Loop.

Do you need a pass to visit Monument Valley? ›

Failure to have a permit is considered Trespassing on a Federal Indian Reservation. Per Individual Entry Fee: $8 per person, per location.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Melvina Ondricka

Last Updated:

Views: 6540

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Melvina Ondricka

Birthday: 2000-12-23

Address: Suite 382 139 Shaniqua Locks, Paulaborough, UT 90498

Phone: +636383657021

Job: Dynamic Government Specialist

Hobby: Kite flying, Watching movies, Knitting, Model building, Reading, Wood carving, Paintball

Introduction: My name is Melvina Ondricka, I am a helpful, fancy, friendly, innocent, outstanding, courageous, thoughtful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.