Monument Valley, Utah – Arizona, USA

Sunset in Monument Valley, USA

West Mitten (1, 000ft high), East Mitten and Merrick Butte at sunset in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona/Utah.

Monument Valley Guide

Monument Valley is a little underwhelming after coming from the pristine grandeur and surreal magic ofArchesNP. 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.

Monument Valley seen from US-163

A first view of Monument Valley from US-163 travelling south-west from Mexican Hat.

Monument Valley view from the main road, USA

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 this 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.

The famously spectacular Lower Antelope Canyon. Photo by Meckimac.

The famously spectacular Lower Antelope Canyon. Photo by Meckimac.

Also known as The Corkscrew or translated from Navajo language as Spiral Rock Arches, Lower Antelope – along with its mate a couple of miles away Upper Antelope – are slot canyons created by erosion through sand packed storm water. These slots can be visited only with a Navajo guide, not just to extract $$ from tourists but because there is a danger of flash flooding and not necessarily overhead. In 1997 eleven tourists dies here due to a flood that started 7 miles away.

Tours are quite pricey and range from $35 – $80 per person depending on timing.

The Hand, Monument Valley, USA

The Hand. Photo by Bernard Gagnon.

Rock 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