When To Visit Monument Valley | Monument Valley Tours (2024)

One of the most iconic views of the entire Southwest is that of a Monument Valley sunset.

The light beaming off the mesas and buttes that rise 400 to 1,000 feet above a pristine desert landscape reflect deep red, sublime colors.

It’s a magical place and these views make Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park one of the most popular trips in the Southwest and one of the most photographed landscapes in the entire United States.

Located on Navajo territory between Arizona and Utah, this land is considered sacred to the Navajo and is known to them as Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii, or “Valley of the Rocks.”

Visitors pay an access fee to drive on a 17-mile road to see a collection of majestic formations that rise up from the desert valley floor. Guided tours are also available. There are miles and miles of weathered pinnacles of rock in this location; a photographer's paradise to explore on foot or through the viewfinder.

Monument Valley Geology

Despite its name, Monument Valley is not technically a valley at all!

What was once a rock basin was chiseled away by wind, rain, and erosion for 50 million years into the magnificent plateaus seen today at the 91,696 acre Monument Valley park.

Each plateau has been given a name inspired by its unique shape, such as the Three Sisters, Elephant Butte, Camel Butte, the Hub, and more notably, John Ford Point - made famous in Ford’s legendary Western films.

When To Visit Monument Valley | Monument Valley Tours (1)

Where is Monument Valley

Monument Valley is located on Navajo territory between Arizona and Utah. The Valley is 177 miles northwest of the Grand Canyon South Rim. The town nearest to this famous location is Kayenta, Arizona - located 22 miles south.

Page, AZ, where many people touring the Southwest United States visit Antelope Canyon or Horseshoe Bend, is 121 miles away. There are many tours starting from Page, Arizona worth considering if you are in the area including canyon and river adventures.

Monument Valley is off US Highway 163 and is 22 miles from Kayenta, AZ 25 miles from Mexican Hat, and about 77 miles from Blanding, UT.

  • Monument Valley To Las Vegas- 400 miles, 7 hours
  • Monument Valley To Phoenix- 390 miles, 6 hours, 30 minutes
  • Monument Valley To Salt Lake City- 380 miles, 6 hours 45 minutes
When To Visit Monument Valley | Monument Valley Tours (2)

What Does It Cost To Visit Monument Valley

The Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park charges an entry fee of $8 per person, per day to enter the 17 mile loop drive. National Park passes are not accepted.

Monument Valley Hours

The hours at Monument Valley vary slightly by season. The attraction is in Mountain Standard time. Here are operating hours based on peak and off season:

  • Peak Season- April 1 – September 30: 7 am– 6 pm daily
  • Off Season- October 1 – March 30: 8 am – 4 pm daily

Monument Valley is closed Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25), Navajo Nation Family Day (Nov. 26), Christmas Day (Dec. 25), and New Year’s Day (Jan. 1).

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When 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. Temperatures range from an average low of 25°F in the winter to an average high of 90°F in the summer. Summer is the hottest and busiest season for tourists all year round. The elevation does keep the summer’s heat manageable, however, and it’s not that common to have temperatures reach above 100°F.

At 5,564 feet above sea level Monument Valley might even see a sprinkling of snow in the wintertime. Starting in mid-December, it is possible to encounter light snowfall, until late February.

July till the end of August is monsoon season. These sudden thunderstorm downpours that can deliver more rain in an hour than the total accumulation the desert has witnessed over the past few months. It is not uncommon to see very heavy downpours in the summer. Monument Valley rainfall averages eight inches a year.

See Also
Canyon Page

Before you go, check the forecast for the wind conditions for the days you plan to visit. Strong winds are common in this desert-like environment which in turn create dusty and hazardous conditions that make sightseeing and photography trips difficult.

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Monument Valley Tours

From the visitor center you can purchase guided tours from certified Navajo tour operators.

Many of these tours visit Monument Valley’s famous sandstone monoliths for photo opportunities aboard 4×4 vehicles. Experienced Navajo tour guides are knowledgeable about the history, landscape, and culture of the valley.

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Monument Valley Hiking

There is only one self-guided hiking trail in Monument Valley; the 4-mile loop Wildcat Trail.

Hiking Monument Valley is quite restrictive. Travel anywhere besides this hike requires an authorized Navajo guide. But the Wildcat trail delivers a rewarding experience as you walk through a number of the most famous rock buttes in Monument Valley, such as Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte, on this world-class hike. The trail has 380 feet of elevation gain and sees heavy traffic.The last quarter mile, you’ll have to hike uphill slightly in sand.

Here are a few tips on hiking Monument Valley and the Wildcat Trail:

  • Early morning sunset hikes offer beautiful colors, less crowds, and solitude
  • Bring water, sunscreen, a hat, bandana, and comfortable shoes
  • Hike the loop counterclockwise for the best view as the sun rises.
  • There is no shade so bring plenty of water, even on cool days
  • Avoid hiking in the wind since the majority of the trail is sandy
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Where to Stay in Monument Valley

The remote and beautiful landscape of Monument Valley also offers a number of similarly unique lodging options for desert explorers that plan overnights in the region.

Here are the top two places to stay in Monument Valley:

  • The View Hotel At Monument Valley- famous landmark hotel within Monument Valley is the only hotel inside the Navajo Tribal Park and all the rooms overlook Monument Valley. Most guest rooms have a private balcony and patio furniture to relax gazing at the iconic formation of Monument Valley and the trading post at the hotel offers one of the largest collections of Navajo jewelry and rugs in the Four Courners area.
  • Goulding’s Monument Valley - founded in the 1920s by a sheep trader looking for a new business opportunity, Goulding’s offers 63 main lodge rooms that offer private balconies and savor the spectacular Monument Valley views. The onsite Stagecoach offers fantastic views of the Monument Valley buttes while enjoying breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
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Monument Valley Camping

There are many places to camp under the stars in or near to the 91,696 acre Monument Valley park. Here are our top picks:

  • The View Campground - You can choose from RV sites, or wilderness camp sites. Each RV or wilderness tent site offers beautiful views of Monument Valley and amazing sunsets.. All sites are dry RV sites with no hookups.
  • Monument Valley KOA- With 56 full hook-up RV sites, Monument Valley KOA is the place to stop if with a large motorhome. It is open Open March 9 to October 31.
  • Goulding’s RV & Campground offers a wide range of camping options; from full hook-up sites that, including water, 50-amp power, and cable TV to a simple tent sites.

  • Mitten View Campground, located near the Monument Valley Visitor Center,offers sites for both tent camping and RVs. Campgrounds are open year round and are available on a first come-first serve basis.
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Monument Valley History In Popular Culture

Throughout film history, Monument Valley has served as the backdrop for a great many Western films. The area was a favorite shooting location of legendary Western director John Ford. Westerns such as Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, The Searchers, and How the West Was Won have all used the backdrop Monument Valley.

More recently, Monument Valley is notably featured as the simulated landscape in HBO’s science fiction series WestWorld. Pixar’s 2006 film Cars featured a similar landscape, this time called “Ornament Valley”. Additionally, one of the most memorable scenes in Forrest Gump takes place on the desert highway leading into Monument Valley. Back to the Future III and National Lampoon’s Vacation also feature scenes in Monument Valley.

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FAQs About Monument Valley

Is Monument Valley considered a National Park?

Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii, as the Navajo Nation refers to Monument Valley, is not a National Park. It is administered by the Navajo Nation and is a Tribal Park subject to its own rules, regulations, and entrance fees.

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

The 17 miles scenic drive takes between 2 to 4 hours to complete. The speed limit is 15 mph on the one-way loop road. Some parts of the road are unpaved and rough.

What is the closest town to Monument Valley?

The town nearest to this famous location is Kayenta, Arizona - located 22 miles south.

Can you hike Monument Valley?

Monument Valley lies within the Navajo Tribal Park and hiking is quite restricted in the Park. The only trail that can be accessed without a guide is the Wildcat Trail, a 4 mile loop that travels through a number of the most famous rock buttes in Monument Valley.

When To Visit Monument Valley  | Monument Valley Tours (2024)


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.

How many days do you need for 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.

Is a guided tour of Monument Valley worth it? ›

You could easily spend an afternoon driving the entire loop without needing to hire a tour guide, so the answer really depends on how much of the park you'd like to explore – as well as how much you want to spend. Both ways of seeing Monument Valley are well worth your time.

Can you do Monument Valley without a tour? ›

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 I visit Monument Valley without a tour? ›

Take a Hike Through Monument Valley

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.

What is the best town to stay in for Monument Valley? ›

Kayenta, the best place to stay near Monument Valley

Kayenta is another option for you to book accommodation in Monument Valley. This town is about a 25-minute drive from the park and has all the amenities you'll need.

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.

How long is the drive around 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. Currently, with the monsoon season we want all travelers to know that the valley drive has very rough terrain and deep sand dunes.

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 most scenic route in Monument Valley? ›

From the Arizona border, Scenic Byway 163 travels northeast through Monument Valley past Mexican Hat and then ends in Bluff, Utah. The redrock desert and spires of scenic Monument Valley have been the setting for countless movies and advertisem*nts.

Can I drive my car through Monument Valley? ›

How to Drive Through Monument Valley. One of the ways to enjoy Monument Valley is by general admission. This allows you to enter the park for $20 per vehicle (with up to four people in each car) and drive the seventeen-mile scenic loop road up to the valley overlook, but not beyond.

What not to miss in Monument Valley? ›

These are the very best things to do in the incredible valley.
  • Experience Monument Valley Tribal Park on Horseback. ...
  • Take a Jeep Tour. ...
  • Navajo Shadehouse Museum. ...
  • Visit West, East, and Merrick Butte. ...
  • Drive Monument Valley Drive with Photo Stops. ...
  • Elephant Butte. ...
  • John Ford's Point. ...
  • Wildcat Trail.
Jan 31, 2024

Is Monument Valley 2 better than 1? ›

Monument Valley 2 is subtly more sophisticated than its predecessor. "If you go back and play the first Monument Valley, it feels sort of retro," Gray says. Small things—like a sleeker, sans serif typeface and generative audio that changes when you activate certain mechanics—make the update feel modern.

What is the closest town 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.

Is sunrise or sunset better in Monument Valley? ›

I would do a sunset tour that takes you out and about at a reasonable time of day then experience sunrise from your room. Just thinking that the sunset tour will give you a more enjoyable overall experience. The monuments are well positioned to be spectacular at both times.

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