The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (2024)

Monument Valley Tribal Park, an iconic landscape of breathtaking beauty, has for centuries stood as a testament to the Navajo Nation’s culture, traditions and connection to the earth.

It is a place where nature’s wonders take center stage. The sandstone buttes, in hues ranging from warm oranges to deep reds, create a surreal and otherworldly landscape. Whether you plan to embark on a guided tour, traverse the scenic drives, or venture on foot to embrace the solitude of this ethereal landscape, Monument Valley Tribal Park promises an unforgettable experience.

Find this park in the very rural southeastern portion of Utah. It’s located just north of the Utah-Arizona border, off Hwy. 163, between Kayenta, Arizona and Mexican Hat, Utah. You’ll definitely want to add this park to your agenda if you’re visiting the Grand Canyon, or Utah’s eastern parks like Arches and Canyonlands. Just past the border, turn east onto Monument Valley Road, which takes you towards the visitors center and into the park.

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (1)

What Makes Monument Valley so Special?

Monument Valley, known as Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii in the Navajo language, is a 91,000-acre tribal park that straddles the border of Arizona and Utah and is known as a place where natural wonders meet a rich cultural legacy.

As a tribal park, Monument Valley is designated land under the jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation. Their intent is to “protect, preserve and manage tribal parks, monuments and recreation areas for the perpetual enjoyment and benefit of the Navajo Nation.”

The Navajo people, who refer to themselves as the Diné, have been the inhabitants of this land for centuries. One of the largest Native American tribes, they retained portions of their ancestral land through treaties with the United States Government, despite the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forcibly removed many Native American tribes from their ancestral land. Today, the Navajo Nation is a vibrant community spreading 27,413 square miles across New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah with more than 160,000 residents.

Monument Valley is the sacred heart of the Navajo Nation and is linked to their creation and origin story. It is considered a divine landscape that connects the Navajo people to their spiritual traditions and ceremonies. The buttes, mesas and sandstone formations are seen as physical manifestations of these traditions and are revered as living entities that have witnessed and preserved Navajo traditions and history.

The Navajo Nation is renowned for its rich artistic traditions. From intricate weaving and vibrant pottery to silverwork and jewelry, Navajo artisans skillfully channel their cultural heritage into their creations, showcasing a remarkable blend of craftsmanship and storytelling. Today, Monument Valley is an area where local Navajo artists display and sell their pieces, with many vendors selling their work roadside throughout the Monument Valley area. Be sure to make a stop along your travels to support their incredible traditional craftsmanship.

The Navajo Nation asks that visitors respect the land and not violate the requests of the Navajo people. Remember that when you are visiting Monument Valley you’re not only visiting the Navajo land, but their spiritual land as well. Just as you would not want someone to enter your place of worship disrespectfully, please respect and abide by the religious requests of the Navajo Nation when visiting their land. Learn more about the Native American Tribes in the Grand Canyon area, including the Navajo.

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (2)

Do I Need a Reservation to Visit Monument Valley?

No reservations are necessary to enter the park, but there is an $8 per person, per day entry fee. America the Beautiful, or other interagency national park passes, are not accepted. Permits are required for rafting the San Juan River which runs through the park, and backcountry hiking and camping. These can be purchased at the visitor center, which is located off Hwy. 163 on Monument Valley Road. Note that dogs are not allowed outside of vehicles in the park.

When the park is open is dependent on whether you’re visiting in peak season or in off-season. Peak season lasts from late April to late September, and off-season is October 1 through the end of March. The scenic drive, which is the park’s main attraction and offers the only access to hiking trails, is open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. during peak season. The park office and visitor center are open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the tour booth, where you can book guided excursions, is open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. During the off season, everything is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check for specific holiday closures.

Be sure to stop at the roadside stands before you reach the visitor center. There are Navajo vendors that sell art, crafts, Native American foods and souvenirs along Monument Valley Road, one mile before the visitor center. Buying directly from the artist helps support the local economy and gives you something to bring home to remember your travels. Bring cash as many vendors don’t accept credit cards.

What is There to Do in Monument Valley?

Drive Through the Valley

The Monument Valley Loop is a 17-mile rugged road that takes you into the heart of the park. While you can see the buttes from Hwy. 163, it’s well worth entering the park and driving the scenic loop to get up close and personal with the remarkable rock formations.

While journeying on the valley road, the impressive sandstone formations of East Mitten, Merrick, Elephant, Cly, and Camel buttes loom overhead, creating a striking silhouette against the nearby scenery. These geological masterpieces evoke a sense of wonder, as if time itself carved this marvel of unparalleled beauty.

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (3)

Note that entry on the loop road is first come, first served, and during peak season it does fill up fast. Be sure to arrive before it opens at 6 a.m. to ensure you get a spot. There are longer wait times during the winter months. Restrooms are located at the visitor center and gift shop. There are no restrooms on the loop drive.

This road is unpaved with rough terrain and deep sand dunes, proceed with caution. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is highly recommended, if you have a low riding vehicle, you will run into clearance issues. It takes about four to five hours to drive the road through Monument Valley. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour, so plan to stop along your journey. The park’s three trailheads are located along the road and there are pull-offs along the way that offer excellent photography opportunities.

Bikes, motorcycles, RVs, ATVs, UTVs and large trailer vehicles are prohibited on Monument Valley Loop because of the rough terrain and uneven switchbacks.

Hire a Guide for the Best Experience

When visiting Monument Valley we highly recommend taking one of the tours offered by the park’s Navajo guides. Most areas of the park require a guide to enter, so taking one of these tours allows you to access the majority of the landscape that isn’t accessible to the public.

In order to get a full grasp of the magnificent rock formations and the cultural history of the park, Navajo guides take touring visitors through the landscape offering information about the park’s history and the Navajo Nation.

Jeep tours take you into the valley, offering an immersive narrated cruise through the breathtaking formations. There are also horseback tours that take you on a traverse through the valley, allowing you to connect with your surroundings from a seat on a gentle giant. Or, if you’d prefer a tour on foot, Navajo guides also offer hiking experiences.

A range of tour types are offered for all kinds of adventurous souls. Tours can be purchased online at or upon your arrival at the park.

Visit John Ford Point

John Ford Point is a popular spot along the Monument Valley Loop. John Ford is a revered filmmaker known for his Western films like My Darling Clementine and Stagecoach. This point is known to be one of his favorite spots in Monument Valley, where many of his films were shot, regardless of whether or not they were set in Utah.

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (4)

Locating this point can be a bit difficult, you can either find it via driving your car along the scenic loop or taking a guided tour to this point.

After spotting the profile of the rock formation known as Three Sisters, you’ll find a fork with the Camel Butte rock formation on your left. There will be a sign telling you to continue on the scenic loop to your left, but in order to get to the point you will want to take a right turn. After turning right you’ll come to a small opening with some vendors and from there can admire John Ford Point.

To help get around, maps are provided at the ticket office, the view point is identified as location number four on the map.

One of the attractions offered at John Ford Point is a chance to get your photo taken on horseback. This is an opportunity to recreate an iconic shot acting like a character from one of John Ford’s movies. Tickets to this experience can be purchased from one of the vendors at this location.

Drive to Forrest Gump Point

There’s so much to explore in Monument Valley, but let’s be honest, most of us learned about this gorgeous location from Forrest Gump. A bucket list item, you won’t want to miss the iconic view during your time in Monument Valley. Driving to Forrest Gump Point doesn’t take you through the park’s valley but there are still stunning views of the park’s buttes and stark landscape during your drive.

Forrest Gump Point is named after the iconic shot in the 1994 movie filmed at this spot, where Tom Hanks finally finishes his endless cross-country run. “I’m pretty tired,” says a heavily bearded Gump to the group of followers that had amassed behind him, the buttes and flats of Monument Valley rising up behind a lonely looking highway. “I think I’ll go home now.”

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (5)

Take Hwy. 163, otherwise known as Forest Gump Highway, from Kayenta, Arizona to Mexican Hat, Utah to see this spot. The exact point to enter on your GPS is 37°06’09.5″N, 109°59’21.1″W. Keep your eye out for mile marker 13. When you arrive you’ll find striking views of Monument Valley’s most legendary buttes.

Unlike the scene from Forrest Gump, this stretch of highway is very busy these days. While it feels like the perfect spot for your Instagram-worthy shot, with a never ending road that disappears into the horizon and the buttes as your backdrop, don’t forget that you’re still on a well-traveled highway. Please don’t stand in the middle of the road, especially at dawn or dusk when visibility isn’t great. It’s a good way to get hit by unsuspecting drivers. Instead, take a quick shot from the side of the road and then check out the rest of the park for even more incredible views.

Take a Hike Through Monument Valley

Hiking in and around Monument Valley is a great way to get an up close look at the rock formations that make the park so unique. Roam the desert amongst the mesas, sandstone towers, shrubs, trees and buttes that rise at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet.

There are only three trails inside the park’s boundary that you can hike without a guide or backcountry permit. You must sign in at the visitor center before you embark on your self-guided hike. For more hiking inside the park, see the section above on hiring a guide. Otherwise, there are plenty of trails along the perimeter of the park that have unparalleled panoramic views and are open to the public.

This area gets a ton of sun and is one of the hottest places in the U.S., especially in the summer months. Be sure to bring a hat, ample sun protection and plenty of water. Avoid hiking in the summer months if possible and start early in the morning to avoid midday heat.

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (6)

Wildcat Trail

This 3.9-mile roundtrip hike is the first of the three self-guided trails in the park. A moderately difficult trek, you’ll gain 380-feet of elevation as you get a close up look at Mitten and Merck buttes. From this hike, you’ll also be able to spot some of the scenic vistas that served as backdrops in famous Western movies such as Once Upon a Time in the West and Space Odyssey.

This trail gets you the best seat in the house to watch the sunset over Mitten Butte. With perfect kaleidoscope light at dusk, it’s one of the most picturesque spots in the park. Be sure to check what time sunset occurs, especially in the summer months as the scenic drive may close before the final show happens. Bring a headlamp so you can see the trail on the way back. There are also sunset guided tours available:

Lee Cly and Mesa Rim Trails

The Lee Cly and Mesa Rim trails are the other two self-guided trails inside the park. Combined, they make a 2.8-mile hike. Plan to spend one to two hours on these trails.

The Lee Cly Trail is a loop and the Mesa Rim Trail is an out-and-back that splits off from the Lee Cly Trail. We suggest combining them into one hike to get the full experience, taking you to some of the most astonishing spots in the park, with vistas of Mitchell Butte, Mitchell Mesa and the Grey Whiskers Butte while you hike.

It’s a moderately difficult hike and does require some rock scrambling, but it’s well worth the effort, ending with an enchanting view of Monument Valley from above.

Where Should You Stay and Eat When Visiting Monument Valley?

The only hotel and campground inside Monument Valley Tribal Park, the View Hotel and Campground, has guest rooms and private cabins to rent as well as wilderness tent camping and RV sites that can be reserved. Just inside the park entrance, the View Hotel is located near the visitor center.

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (7)

The View Hotel is a Navajo-owned business that offers comfortable, modern amenities with views that remind guests they are in this stunning geological landscape. The hotel features authentic Native American decor such as locally sourced, hand-woven Navajo rugs.

Designed to blend into the landscape, the three-floor hotel has 95 rooms, each with an east-facing balcony that gives guests incredible views of Monument Valley, especially as the sun rises. The hotel also offers StarView rooms on the top floor with a balcony that gets you captivating views of the night sky untouched by light pollution. Make sure to bring your camera or turn your iPhone to long exposure to catch a photo from the comfort of your room. Amenities at the hotel include WiFi in the lobby, conference rooms, a fitness center with sunset views and televisions. The rooms include coffee makers, a micro-fridge and a microwave.

Private cabins sit on the valley rim and offer excellent views as well. Including private bathrooms, Old West decor, a fridge and microwave, these cozy spaces offer more seclusion than the hotel rooms. Sit on your porch with a cup of coffee in the morning and watch the sun light up the buttes.

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (8)

The View Campground is the only designated campground in the park. It offers both RV sites and Wilderness Campsites. The RV spots feature one of the best places to watch the sunset in Monument Valley. There are no hookups for water or electricity and even car campers with roof tents will need to reserve one of these sites.

The Wilderness Campsites are located on the cliff side of the park and offer jaw-dropping views of the buttes. There are full restrooms and showers available to campers. Only one tent is allowed per site and the maximum allowed tent size is five by eight feet.

The View Restaurant is open to hotel guests, serving continental breakfast and dinner. You’ll find locally-inspired dishes like fried chicken, chili beans con carne and green chili stew on the menu. To make a reservation for the hotel or campground, call 435-727-5802 or book online at Make your reservation as far in advance as possible as this is a popular destination, especially in spring and fall.

Another campground close to Monument Valley Tribal Park is the Monument Valley KOA (, just on the other side of the Utah border. There are campsites with restrooms, a dog park and RV sites with full hookups available here. You’ll still get views of the buttes and mesas in the park and will be 10 minutes from the park entrance.

There are also a few unique AirBnbs in the area, all within an hour’s drive of the park including earthen homes, yurts and private campsites. Check them at

For additional lodging options, Goulding is the closest town to the park, 7.7 miles northwest on the Utah border. It had a grocery store and gas station, along with a small hotel. Kayenta, Arizona is the closest town to the park with chain hotels and restaurants, 28 miles south.

The largest city with an airport is three hours away in Flagstaff, Arizona, a car is necessary to get to Monument Valley.

For more information about Monument Valley Tribal Park, visit

The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley (2024)


The Ultimate Visitors Guide to Monument Valley? ›

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 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.

How many days do you need to see Monument Valley? ›

Monument Valley is an iconic Navajo Tribal Park located on the Utah-Arizona border. It is a stop that many people miss on their Utah road trip adventures, but I highly recommend spending one full day there (you don't need any longer) to experience its beauty.

What is the best month 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.

Do I need a guide for Monument Valley? ›

There are three sections of Monument Valley Tribal Park for which you do not need a guide: the 17-mile Scenic Drive, the Wildcat Trail, and the views from The View Hotel. You can also see some great scenery from US Route 163 including Forest Gump Point. However, a guide is required to visit the backcountry.

Can you drive through Monument Valley on your own? ›

However, you can take the scenic drive through the park on your own as long as you don't wander too far away from the road. There's still plenty you can see from the 17-mile scenic road that winds through Monument Valley, so it's well worth a trip even if you don't hire a guide to gain access to the off-limits areas.

Can you drive the 17-mile loop in Monument Valley? ›

While visiting the Monument Valley, you will need to try the 17-mile loop drive for a view of the scenic beauty and magnificent formations.

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.

Can you do Grand Canyon and Monument Valley in one day? ›

It takes half a day to drive each way between Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, and about a half day to take a tour -- the guided tours are longer. the light at monument valley is amazing at sunset and sunrise--so i would encourage you to stay overnight there.

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.

How much does it cost to go through Monument Valley? ›

Per Individual Entry Fee:

$8 per person, per location.

What to wear in Monument Valley? ›

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. Welcome to the Navajo Nation's Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

How long does it take to do the loop at 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.

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.

How long should you stay in Monument Valley? ›

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.

Is Monument Valley Scenic Drive worth it? ›

While the park allows you to see the formations up close, this drive is a great way to see the valley and see many of the formations together in one view. Be aware that Mexican Hat restaurants close down from Fall to Spring, so you should eat in Monument Valley or Kayenta before taking the ride.

Can you see 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.

Is it worth it to buy Monument Valley? ›

Monument Valley is one of the best iPhone games available, and an Editors' Choice winner. Monument Valley is available in the Apple App store for $3.99. The Forgotten Shores expansion is available as an in-app purchase for $1.99, while Ida's Dream is a free update.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Last Updated:

Views: 6324

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Birthday: 2001-07-17

Address: Suite 794 53887 Geri Spring, West Cristentown, KY 54855

Phone: +5934435460663

Job: Central Hospitality Director

Hobby: Yoga, Electronics, Rafting, Lockpicking, Inline skating, Puzzles, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Clemencia Bogisich Ret, I am a super, outstanding, graceful, friendly, vast, comfortable, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.