The imposing Monument Valleyis an iconic landscape located on the Arizona-Utah border in the southwestern United States.
It’s renowned for its unique and otherworldly rock formations, characterized by towering red sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires that rise dramatically from the desert floor.
The valley is part of the larger Colorado Plateau, a region known for its remarkable geological features.
A panoramic view of Monument Valley in daytime in Arizona from U.S.-163 Road, with one vehicle traveling
Located in the Navajo Tribal Park on the Arizona-Utah border in the U.S., Monument Valley is a little underwhelming after coming from the pristine grandeur and surreal magic of Utah’s Arches National Park.
Yes, the massive sandstone buttes that appear in those old westerns are stunning and the skies go on forever, but the decrepit jewelry kiosks, collapsed sheds, and exhausted visitor center create a depressing miasma over the magnificence.
Many buttes are visible from U.S. Route 163 without entering the park, though the best view, above, is from the visitor center/restaurant terrace.
A misty view of Monument Valley in Arizona, with a lone vehicle traversing the narrow U.S.-163 Road
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 U.S.-163 for four miles brings you to a toll gate, car park, visitor center, 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.
Recommendation:You can find a reliable, good-value RV campervan hire from Grand American Adventures (GAA).
Pick up in:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Francisco
These campervans are:
- equipped with GPS
You can hire a campervan sleeping up to four people for any duration over seven days.
For inspiration, GAA has put together some itinerary suggestions based on popular trip durations, a flavor of what you could do on your campervan adventure and include some of the “must-see” destinations.
Vans come with bedding and pillows, cooking facilities, picnic chairs, maps, camping book, and the kitchen sink, giving you everything you need to make your own road trip!
A hand-shaped rock formation at Monument Valley in Arizona, USA
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 dollars from tourists, but because there is a danger of flash flooding and not necessarily overhead.
In 1997, eleven tourists died here due to a flood that started seven miles away.
Tours are quite pricey and range from $35 to $80 per person depending on timing.
Below is the operating schedule of the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Visitor Center:
a. Peak Season
- May 1 to September 30
- 6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (7 days a week)
b. Off Season
- October 1 to April 30
- 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (7 days a week)
c. Thanksgiving Day- 8:00 a.m. - 12 noon
d. Christmas and New Year’s Day- closed
As for the scenic drive hours:
- Peak Season (May-September) - 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Off Season (October-April) - 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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
- Hunts Mesa
Visitors must pay an access fee to drive through the park on a 17-mile (27 kilometers) dirt road that takes about three hours.
Going to Monument Valley is an appreciation of the cultural and historical importance of the Navajo Nation.