Travel Guide For Visiting Monument Valley

Located in southern Utah and northern Arizona, when visiting Monument Valley you’ll see a stunning landscape with buttes, mesas, and other unique geographical features.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Utah! Explore its rich culture, vibrant colors, and dramatic views of the landscape that will take your breath away.

Monument Valley Travel Guide

Discover the fascinating history behind this iconic landmark as you explore ancient ruins, visit Native American settlements, and marvel at the unique rock formations that make up Monument Valley’s stunning scenery.

With so much to offer in one magical landscape, it’s no wonder that Monument Valley is a must-see destination for anyone looking to explore the American Southwest.

Use our Utah Packing Lists to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting any time of year! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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Guide to Visiting Monument Valley

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a must-visit destination located on the Arizona-Utah border in the southwestern United States. 

To help you plan your trip, here’s some valuable information about the park:

Entrance Fee: There is a park entrance fee per person. Children aged 8 and under can enter for free. This fee covers both the self-guided scenic drive and the hiking trails within the park for one day. Check the website for the current fee rates.

The US National Park pass is not accepted at Monument Valley since this is a Navajo Tribal Park and not a US National Park.

Operating Hours: The park is open throughout the year. Monument Valley is closed on all major Navajo Nation holidays: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

The park may also temporarily close due to inclement weather or other reasons like special events or filming. It is always advisable to check the park’s website, but we suggest calling ahead. We made the trip to the park and weren’t allowed in due to filming – we were very disappointed!

Weather: Spring temperatures average around 65 degrees F, but gusty winds are common this time of year.

Summer is the hottest time of year with temperatures around 90 degrees F. Afternoon thunderstorms are common during summer monsoon season.

In the fall temperatures are a nice 70 degrees F, and you don’t have the winds like you do in the spring.

Winter is cold with temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees F. Snow isn’t common, but a storm can produce a light dusting that creates a magical scene!

It’s important to stay hydrated any time of year (hydration pack or refillable water bottles).  

In this part of Utah and Arizona you’ll also want a sun hat, sunscreen, lip balm with sunscreen, and hydrating lotion.

Pets: Pets are allowed on Wildcat Trail and Valley Drive, but not inside the Visitor Center.

blue hour at Monument Valley
View of Monument Valley

Directions to Monument Valley

Monument Valley is pretty far from any major city. Here are the distances and drive times to nearby airports:

  • Phoenix – 320 miles – 5 hours
  • Albuquerque – 324 miles – 5 hours
  • Las Vegas – 400 miles – 6.5 hours
  • Salt Lake City – 380 miles – 6.5 hours

Many people add Monument Valley to their Utah National Park road trip itinerary!

Is Monument Valley Worth Visiting?

Yes, Monument Valley is definitely worth the visit! As you make the drive to get there, there are a variety of scenic byways, points of interest, cultural attractions, and stunning landscapes to see along the way!

Can You Drive Through Monument Valley?

Yes, Monument Valley has one scenic road through the park where personal vehicles are allowed. More details about the scenic drive are below.

How Long Does It Take To Drive Through Monument Valley?

Plan on spending 2 to 4 hours for the scenic drive loop. You’ll find a free map at the Visitor Center that includes 11 numbered stops to see along the way.

Navajo site along the Monument Valley drive
Navajo site along the Monument Valley Loop Drive

Monument Valley Activities

Here’s a list of the things you can do at Monument Valley:

Monument Valley Visitor Center

At the Visitor Center you can learn about the Navajo people’s history and culture and see exhibits showcasing their traditional way of life. Watch traditional dances and listen to music to learn about their culture.

Monument Valley Scenic Drive Information

The most popular activity at Monument Valley is driving the 17-mile loop road. There is a per car fee to drive the road – save time by purchasing online! You’ll also receive a Monument Valley drive map as part of the fee.

Admittance hours for the Monument Valley scenic drive change according to the season. The road may also close due to weather, events, or filming. It’s always good to check ahead before making the drive out there!

There are no services, including no restrooms, in the valley along the scenic drive. Be sure to pack your own water and food.

You must stay near the road if you’re driving a personal vehicle. You can’t hike toward any of the formations in the valley unless accompanied by a paid guide.

Dirt road through Monument Valley
Dirt road through Monument Valley

It’s recommended that you drive a 4WD vehicle due to the steep and rough section the first 1/2 mile down the mesa to the valley floor. The rest of the road is level, but there can be deep sand and rough parts in part of the road.

You definitely want a high-clearance vehicle! We did see many compact cars and Mustangs drive the road when we were there, but we wouldn’t want to risk damage to our own car or a rental car.

Motorcycles are not allowed on the road due to the rough terrain.

John Ford's Point with famous horse
Taking pictures at John Ford’s Point for the famous horse pose

Monument Valley Loop Drive Stops

Make sure you have your camera ready to capture the beauty you’ll see at all of these points of interest!

  • The Mittens and Merrick Butte
  • Elephant Butte
  • Three Sisters
  • John Ford’s Point – pay for a classic photo on a horse!
  • Camel Butte
  • The Hub
  • Totem Pole
  • Artist’s Point
  • North Window
  • The Thumb

Monument Valley Guided Tours

Private guided tours of Monument Valley offer access to parts of the park you can’t see on your own. Learns about the culture and history from the Navajo point of view and see petroglyphs, Anasazi dwellings, sandstone arches, and more rock formations.

There’s even a tour for camping under the stars on Hunts Mesa.

West Mitten at Monument Valley
West Mitten Butte

Monument Valley Hikes

There is only one hiking trail in the park, and one just outside the park that provide amazing views!

Wildcat Trail – this 3.9 mile round trip hikes takes about 1.5 to 3 hours and takes you around the West Mitten Butte. You don’t need a Navajo guide for this hike!

Goulding Arch Trail – this 0.6 mile round trip hike starts at the Gouldings Campground and ends at this stunning arch!

photographing Monument Valley

Monument Valley Photography

Be sure to have your camera gear for capturing Monument Valley photos!

Watching and photographing the sunrise or sunset is one of Monument Valley’s most popular things to do. The changing light creates stunning colors on the rock formations, making it a truly unforgettable experience.

Monument Valley Sunrise and Sunset Photo Spots – we like the vantage point at the Monument Valley Visitor’s Center. It can get crowded so get there early to grab your spot along the viewing area.

Taylor Rock is another great spot that’s not as crowded. Park at the View Hotel and find the rock by the footpath.

The Mitten Shadow Event happens twice a year in late March and mid-September. At this time the West Mitten Butte casts a perfect shadow on the East Mitten Butte at sunset. Plan ahead for this event!

Taking photos at the Monument Valley Visitor Center viewpoint
Taking photos at the Monument Valley Visitor Center

Monument Valley Loop Photo Spots – all along the scenic drive you’ll find points of interest to photograph like Artist’s Point, John Ford’s Point, Merrick Butte, Elephant Butte, and Three Sisters, just to name a few!

The Wildcat Trail isn’t found on the loop drive, but it provides up close access to the West Mitten Butte!

Forrest Gump Road
Forrest Gump Road

Forrest Gump Point – on Route 163 between Mexican Hat, Utah and Monument Valley, you’ll see the popular scene from the movie Forrest Gump. Near mile marker 13 Forrest Gump stopped running and said “My momma always said you’ve gotta put the past behind you before you can move on. And I think that’s what my running was all about…”

The exact coordinates are 37°06’09.5″N 109°59’21.1″W. There are a few different spots along the highway to safely pull off the road and park to capture this photo.

Blue hour at Monument Valley
Blue hour after sunset at Monument Valley

Monument Valley Camping and Lodging

The View Campground – enjoy stunning views of Monument Valley from dry RV sites (no hookups) or wilderness camp sites. A full restroom, shower facility, potable water, fire pit, and picnic tables are available to all campers.

Monument Valley KOA – 5.2 miles from the Visitor Center this campground offers fantastic views from RV and tent camping sites.

Goulding’s RV & Campground – 6.2 miles from the Visitor Center this campground sits beneath towering red walls offering an Old West theme. There are RV sites, tent sites, and cabins available here!

If camping isn’t your thing, there are more lodging options outside park and in the small towns near the park: Hotels Near Monument Valley

Things to Do Near Monument Valley

Utah Travel Guides & Maps

Utah guides and maps

Utah Bucket List

To help make your trip planning easier, we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of must-do activities that belong on every Utah Bucket List: things to see, do and taste all around the state! Grab the free download by clicking the graphic below!

utah bucket list - grab the free packet

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