Monument Valley  is perhaps the most famous example of the classic American West landscape, located within the Navajo Nation on the border of Arizona and Utah. The valley has been the backdrop for numerous western movies, ranging from the films of John Wayne to Back to the Future 3 and Forrest Gump.
Note that the entire Navajo Nation observes Mountain Daylight Savings Time from April through October, putting it one hour ahead of the time in other Arizona locations, or the same time as Utah.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancient Anasazi people inhabited the valley until AD 1300. Today over 100 sites and ruins have been found dating from these ancient people, including rock art. The Anasazi abandoned the area in the 1300's, leaving it empty of humans until the arrival of the Navajo.
Flora and fauna
The valley has wide a assortment of vegetation including, Juniper trees, yucca, Russian thistle (Tumbleweed) and Navajo Tea to name just a few. Much of the vegetation is still used by the Navajos for medicinal purposes, and as dyes for their world famous hand-woven rugs.
Temperatures range from the upper 80's to low 90's in the summer. The winters are mild ranging from the upper 40's to mid 50's. Summer nights are cool and comfortable. Winter lows are generally in the mid to upper 20's. The summers are dry except during the monsoon season — beware of flash flooding during this time. Winters see some snow, which brings out the spectacular colors of the valley.
Highway 163 is the only way to reach the park.
The Valley lies mostly in northern Arizona, but the highway turn-off that leads into it is just across the border in Utah. The nearest town is Kayenta, about twenty miles to the south.
Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal park (not a USA National Park) - National Park passes will not be accepted.
For access to the loop road through the valley a fee of $20 per car has to be paid. This includes up to 4 passengers; each additional person is charged $10 extra.
Individuals wishing to hike in the valley or to visit sites not on the loop road must hire a Navajo guide for an additional fee.
While many incredible formations can be seen from the main roads, the best views can be had from the 17-mile loop road that runs through the valley. The road is open 6AM-8:30PM in the summer (May - Sep) and 8AM-4:30PM in the winter (Oct - Apr).
The loop is not paved and can be quite rough and dusty, but most vehicles should be able to manage. You are not permitted to deviate from the loop drive without a native guide present. The loop drive can be done in as little as 30-40 minutes, but most visitors will take several hours to enjoy the scenery. There is no shortage of native guides eager to take you (for a fee, of course!) to the restricted areas.
Monument Valley landscape.
- Wildcat Trail – This impressive 3.1 mile trail takes you along the base of the West Mitten Butte, giving you a sense of how enormous the monuments are. This is the only self-guided walking tour in the park. Bring plenty of water, as the path is sometimes composed of deep sand which requires extra effort to navigate.
Navajo guides are required for travel off of the valley road. A number of companies provide guided tours of the Monument Valley that include transportation from the surrounding areas. Some companies will provide bus travel from nearby towns while others begin in Monument Valley Tribal Park. Some will provide just a brief tour with small stops, while others may take you on a hike and arrange all your meals. Most of these are done in windowless buses or trucks — be prepared to get covered in dust. You may wish to take a cue from the Japanese and bring a mask.
- Monument Valley Safari (Guided tour provider in Monument Valley), Monument Valley, Utah, ☎ (928)209-1364, . .Monument Valley Safari is Navajo owned/operated. Rated #2 on TripAdvisor, Monument Valley Safari provides both private and group tours into the restricted areas of Lower Monument Valley, Mystery Valley, Tear Drop Arch and Hunts Mesa. All guides are natives/locals who are enthusiastic to share their culture and knowledge of Navajo history and geography. Their most popular tour on TripAdvisor is the 3.5 Hour Scenic & Cultural Safari into Lower Monument Valley. Contact Nate Holiday at 1.928.209.1364 or email@example.com for more information or to reserve your safari. $$.
- Hydros Adventures Tours, 928-310-8141, . Offers one day and overnight hiking, rafting, backpacking, and adventure tours to Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona, and Southern Utah. Pickups in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon area.
- Majestic Monument Valley Touring Co., Monument Valley, Utah, ☎ (435) 727-3432, . Majestic Monument Valley Touring Co. is a Navajo owned/operated certified tour company. They offer a variety of tours inside and outside of the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. With their Navajo guides, customers learn about Navajo culture as they experience the beautiful landscape. They operate year-round.
- Monument Valley Hot Air Balloon Company, 623-847-1511 or tollfree 800-843-5987, . Offers comprehensive sunrise hot air balloon flight tours from May 1st through October 31st. Includes Navajo guide who will provide information about Monument Valley history & legends and the Navajo People & their way of life, transportation from Kayenta, Arizona or Goulding Lodge, Utah, early morning twilight & sunrise photo opportunities, inflation of the hot air balloon (which is pretty incredible in itself!), hot air balloon flight of approximately 1 hour aloft over some of the most dramatic geography imaginable, post-flight continental breakfast served at a tablecloth setting at your landing site, personalized First Flight Certificate commemorating your ascension in a hot air balloon, backcountry tour (which requires a Navajo guide), a brief stop at the Visitor's Center, and return transportation to your pickup location.
- Sandstone Tours, (435) 200-5450, . Sandstone Tours offers sunset and sunrise tours of Monument Valley and Mystery Valley as well as a variety of other affordable tours ranging from 1.5 to 6 hours. Tour the valley with a local Navajo guide and enjoy several scenic stops along the way.
The visitor's center has a large gift shop with a wide variety of souvenirs. They also showcase an impressive amount of hand-crafted Native American Arts and Crafts.
Goulding's Lodge has a restaurant, the park's visitor center sells snacks, and there may be stands around the park offering Navajo fry-bread and other items. The View Restaurant is located at the visitor center, and is open for 3 meals, serving American and traditional Navajo cuisine.
Drinking water and other beverages are available at the visitor center and at the campground store. There are no other water supplies in the valley, so be sure to carry enough with you.
Note that alcoholic beverages are prohibited on Navajo lands.
Kayenta, AZ is the nearest town to the south(~20 miles away), and has several hotels. Mexican Hat, Utah is 22 miles north on Hwy 163 & also has accommodations. The only closer options Goulding's and the View Hotel across the street from, and within, the park respectively. Call or check prices ahead of all options, as the limited market means pricing can be somewhat variable.
- Goulding's Lodge, ☎ (435) 727-3231, . Located across the road from the entrance to the park, Goulding's is by far the nearest hotel to the park, without being actually inside it, as The View Hotel is. Some rooms have distant views towards the park, camping is also available, and there's a restaurant and gift shop on site. They offer guided tours through the park throughout the day. Typically far cheaper than The View Hotel, the inconvenience is a 10 minute commute to the park.
- The View Hotel, . The View Hotel is the only hotel inside the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, situated at the entrance, near the visitors center. It features 90 suite rooms overlooking the entire valley, with amazing views of the famous mittens and other red rock formations.
- Hat Rock Inn, . Located in Mexican Hat overlooking the San Juan River. Amenities include a swimming pool, in-room coffee, wifi, micro-fridges, free breakfast, restaurant. Mexican Hat is not on the reservation so beer & alcohol is available along with the freedom to hike the many trails & enjoy the refreshing San Juan River.
- Mexican Hat Lodge, . Home of The Swingin' Steak & beer garden.
- Goulding's Lodge Campground, . Sites with full hookups are $38 per night, while tent-only sites are $26 per night.
Regulations within the valley include the following:
- Fires are allowed only in grills, firepits, and other designated areas.
- Visitors MUST stay on the valley road unless accompanied by a Navajo guide.
- Rock climbing is prohibited.
- Personal photography is allowed, but when photographing Navajo residents and their property permission is required and a gratuity is expected. Commercial photography requires a permit.
- Dogs must be leashed at all times.
- Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on Navajo lands.
- Do not disturb plants or animals.
Dangers in the valley are minimal, but visitors should not reach under rocks, ledges or bushes due to dangers from rattlesnakes, scorpions and spiders.
Unless you plan to keep the native guides busy, this is a one-day stop.
- Kayenta. Located 20 miles south, this town offers lodging, supplies, and the nearest airport.
- Mexican Hat. 22 miles north on Hwy 163, where the river cuts through Monument Valley to the south & Valley of the Gods to the north.
- Page. This town is about 120 miles to the west and provides access to Lake Powell
- Four Corners. Located 92 miles to the east, Four Corners is the only point in the United States where four states meet. A monument and visitor center commemorates the spot.
- Natural Bridges National Monument. Located 60 miles to the north, this monument is home to several impressive rock formations that span a river canyon, forming natural rock bridges.
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