Monument Valley is a stunning and iconic landscape located on the border of Arizona and Utah in the United States. It is known for its stunning landscapes, towering sandstone spires, and striking red rock formations, which have been featured in many films and television shows. Monument Valley is also rich in Native American culture, the area being sacred to the Navajo people, who have lived in the region for centuries and continue to call it home today. So it’s no wonder Monument Valley is a must-see in the American Southwest! So much so that we actually visited three times and loved every second of each trip. One of these Monument Valley travel experiences included renting a Harley Davidson and a Mustang from Flagstaff and riding a portion of Route 66!

If you are preparing a trip to Monument Valley, make sure to read our blog post below as we share our travel experiences as well as Monument Valley facts and travel tips.

This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a percentage if you make a purchase using these links – at no cost to you. Our opinions are our own and are not impacted by these partnerships.

Visiting Monument Valley

Made famous by movie Director John Ford in the 1930s, Monument Valley has taken on the image of what people think the American West looks like. But the region’s importance predates the movie industry and goes back long into Native American history.

Anasazi People

Archeologists found ruins from the Anasazis, who lived in the valley until the 13th-14th centuries. Rock art as well as dwellings, are what’s left of this ancient culture today.

Navajo Culture and Traditions

Visiting Monument Valley is the opportunity to explore the park’s rich Native American culture. The park is home to the Navajo tribe, and many of the park’s landmarks have cultural and spiritual significance for the tribe. You can learn more about the tribe’s history and culture by visiting the Navajo Tribal Park visitor center and museum.

The valley is indeed sacred to the Navajos and is within the Navajo Nation Reservation. In the Navajo language, Monument Valley is called Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, meaning “valley of the rocks.”

Visiting Monument Valley: How to Experience the Sacred Grounds of the Navajos // Old Navajo woman demonstrating traditional tapestry weaving skills

Old Navajo woman demonstrating traditional tapestry weaving skills

Monument Valley Landscape

The sandstone buttes are what make Monument Valley scenery so special. Some of the rock formations reach 1,000 feet, as the wind and erosion sculpted the rocks dated back over 192 million years.

Monument Valley Entrance Ticket

Many ask: Is Monument Valley a National Park? The answer is: No, Monument Valley is not part of the US National Parks, and you must buy a ticket to enter the area as your US National Park Pass won’t allow you entrance. The Monument Valley Tribal Park entry fee is US$20 per vehicle (up to 4 passengers) or US$10 per person.

Top Things to Do in Monument Valley

In addition to the park’s natural beauty and cultural significance, there are also several fun activities to enjoy, such as camping, hiking, and horseback riding.

Overnight Stay in a Hogan

Spend the night in a Hogan, the traditional Navajo dwelling, and enjoy the beauty of a star-filled dark sky in the silent arid landscape. Wake up at sunrise to appreciate the warming rays of sunshine, coloring the rocks with golden and orange hues.

A Hot Open-Door Volcano Helicopter Tour Hawaii Big Island Experience // Traditional Hogan

Traditional Hogan

The traditional hut is of conical shape, made of stone or wood logs. A smoke hole in the middle of the roof allowed for wood burning fire, though nowadays, a wooden stove has replaced the older way of heating the hogan.

Monument Valley Hiking

One popular activity in Monument Valley is hiking. Visitors can explore the area on foot, taking in the unique geology and breathtaking views. Many of the hikes are challenging and require some fitness and stamina, but the reward is worth it. The scenery is breathtaking, and you may spot some wildlife along the way.

The 3-mile loop Wildcat Trail is probably the most iconic trail in Monument Valley and a must-do for those looking to enjoy the scenery on foot.

Horseback Riding in Monument Valley

Another popular way to experience Monument Valley is by horseback. Guided tours are available, which allow visitors to explore the area on horseback and learn more about the history and culture of the Navajo people. Riding through the red rock formations on a horse is a truly unique experience that is not to be missed.

Visiting Monument Valley: How to Experience the Sacred Grounds of the Navajos // Ancient Petroglyphs

Ancient Petroglyphs

Of course, no visit to Monument Valley would be complete without admiring the beautiful Mittens.

The USA, in general, is a great destination for horseback riding – like our trips riding in Montana or riding in California. And Monument Valley horseback riding is one of these memorable experiences!

Riding a Harley Davidson 

Riding a Harley Davidson motorbike to Monument Valley is an unforgettable experience. One of the best things is the feeling of freedom and adventure that comes with it. The park has a number of scenic roads that offer great views of the red rock formations and other natural landmarks. The roads are well-maintained and offer a smooth and enjoyable ride. Riding a Harley Davidson through Monument Valley is a unique and exciting experience!

Visiting Monument Valley: How to Experience the Sacred Grounds of the Navajos // Monument Valley View Point

Monument Valley View Point

Driving Monument Valley Scenic Route (Tribal Park Loop)

One of the most popular routes is the 17-mile (27-kilometer) Monument Valley Scenic Drive loop, which takes you through the park’s most iconic landmarks. The road is unpaved and can be rough in places, but it offers some of the most breathtaking views in the park. You will also see landmarks such as the Mittens, the Three Sisters, and the Totem Pole.

This road is not recommended for urban cars, and you need a proper 4×4 car to avoid damage on the bumpy route. Because the scenic route has so many viewpoints, plan to spend at least four hours on the drive. And even longer in the summer as the viewpoints are crowded and you might need to wait to get better views. Getting up early in the morning will allow for a more fluid drive. Sunsets are also gorgeous so you can plan for a late afternoon ride as well.


Visiting Monument Valley: How to Experience the Sacred Grounds of the Navajos // Mitten and Mesa Views

Mitten and Mesa Views

Navajo Guided Tours

Join a native-guided backcountry tour, which will take you to areas that are off-limits to non-Navajo visitors, like the Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa. These native guides will tell you more about Navajo culture and will treat you to traditional music under the shade of red rock formations, with names like backcountry tour took us to rock formations and arches with names like Thunderbird or Ear of the Wind.

Hot Air Ballooning

From May to October, it’s possible to admire Monument Valley from high above.

Mitten Shadow & ViewPoints Photography

In late March, early April, and in September, the West Mitten Butte shadow lays over the East Mitten Butte at sunset. The event usually peaks on March 30th, but it is visible a few days before and after. A. true Monument Valley photography moment! 

Other worth viewpoints include the popular John Ford’s Point, named after the American film director John Ford who shot many Western-style movies around Monument Valley and Three Sisters, Camel Butte, and Elephant Butte.

In short, Monument Valley is a must-see destination for anyone who loves the outdoors and appreciates the beauty of nature. It offers a variety of activities, from hiking and horseback riding to simply taking in stunning views.

Best time to visit Monument Valley

Monument Valley has a desert climate with hot summer and cold winter days.

Spring and Fall are the best seasons to travel to Monument Valley, with cooler temperatures and fewer visitors and traffic. Winter days are cold, summer hot. But the 5,200-foot elevation means the temperatures are usually cooler. Spring and fall temperatures vary from 66°F to 80°F, summer from 90°F to 100°F, and winter from 0°F to 60°F with the occasional snowfall.

Monument Valley Lodging & Food

There are several campgrounds and lodges in the park where you can stay, and the park also offers guided tours and activities.

Nearby, Gouldings offers a campground and lodge, and you can enjoy breakfast at the View Hotel. There are no other food or accommodation options within 25 miles from outside Gouldings. Goulding is named after Harry Goulding, who built a trading post in the 1920s before becoming the motel and restaurant that hosted filming crews then tourist crowds.

A Monument Valley hotel opened within the park in 2008 and was named The View, a testimony to the incredible views one gets from the building.

Staying in a Hogan is also possible for those looking to experience Monument Valley in a traditional, rustic way.

How to Get to Monument Valley

The nearest airport is Salt Lake City, Utah, but you can fly into Flagstaff, Arizona as well.

Rent a car from either place and plan to see other top attractions as part of your American Southwest itinerary.

Head off Utah Highway 163 between Kayenta and Mexican Hat.  The 150-mile drive from Moab, Utah, takes about three hours, but around two if coming from Page, Arizona, about 120 miles away.

Monument Valley Travel Tips

  • What State is Monument Valley in? Well, to the question, where is monument valley, Utah or Arizona? The iconic attraction is actually at the border of both, near the Four Corners region.
  • Because the land is a reservation, it is part of the Navajo Nation. It has its own governance and also its own judicial system.
  • Watch the time! The Navajo Nation (where the park is located) and Utah have been following Daylight Savings Time for only six months. This means Monument Valley will be one hour ahead of Arizona during these months (March to November).
  • Some of the rock formations used to be marine soil!
  • If you visit in Summer, make sure to go as the earliest possible, aiming for the 6 am opening if you can. Temperatures will be at the coolest, and the park will be less busy.
  • Bring layers as the temperatures can be cold at night if you stay there for the night.
  • Make sure to fill your tank before heading to Monument Valley.
  • This area is sacred to the Navajos. Please be mindful and respectful.

You can combine your visit to Monument Valley with a stop at Antelope Canyon, at the Four Corners (where 4 States meet: Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico).

Overall, with its stunning landscapes, rich cultural history, and various activities, Monument Valley is a must-see destination for travelers visiting the American Southwest.

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