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West Mitten (1,000ft high), East Mitten and Merrick Butte at sunset in Monument Valley Tribal Park, Arizona/Utah.
Monument Valley is a little underwhelming after coming from the pristine grandeur and surreal magic of Arches NP. Yes, the massive sandstone buttes that appear in those old westerns are stunning and the skies go on forever, but the decrepit jewellery kiosks, collapsed sheds and exhausted visitor centre create a depressing miasma over the magnificence.
Many buttes are visible from US-163 road without entering the park, though the best view, above, is from the visitor centre/restaurant terrace.
A first view of Monument Valley from US-163 travelling south-west from Mexican Hat.
A late afternoon shot of Monument Valley from US-163 travelling north-east.
Monument Valley, sitting on the state line between Utah and Arizona, belongs to the Navajo - calm and pleasant people but clearly struggling to make a living - and is a small part of a 16 million acre Navajo Reservation. Turning off US-163 for four miles brings you to a toll gate, car park, visitor centre, campground and start of a 17 mile dirt road through the park.
Self drive on the bumpy dirt road is possible, though not recommended for RVs.
climbing and alcohol are not allowed while lengthy hikes are only
permitted with a Navajo guide. Alternatively the Navajo run informative
jeep and horseback tours, including some movie locations, Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa.
Visitors must pay an access fee to drive through the park on a 17-mile (27 km) dirt road that takes about three hours.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Visitor Center Hours:
Peak Season (May 1 - Sept 30) 6:00am - 8:00pm, 7 Days a week
Off Season (Oct 1 - Apr 30) until 8:00am - 5:00pm, 7 Days a week
Thanksgiving Day - 8:00am - noon
Christmas and New Years Days - closed
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Scenic Drive Hours:
Peak Season (May 1-Sept 30) 6:00am - 8:30pm
Off Season (Oct - Apr) 8:00am - 4:30pm