Venture into Monument Valley near the Four Corners area in Arizona and one will be greeted with one of the most iconic landscapes in all of the United States. Monument Valley is an international postcard of sandstone buttes like none other in the world. The butts are located in the territory of the Navajo Nation - the largest reservation in the United States.
Within the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley is designated a Tribal Park - the Navajo Nation equivalent of a national park. The Navajo Nation is also home to the internationally famous Antelope Canyon that everyone needs a guide to visit.
Why Monument Valley Is Worth Seeing
Monument Valley has been featured in many movies, postcards, and works of media since the 1930s. Together with tumbleweeds and cactuses, it is one of the images that evoke the image of the romantic Wild West.
The Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is without a doubt one of the most photographed landscapes in the world. Generations have been left spellbound by its beauty.
The largest of the sandstone buttes reach heights of up to 1,000 feet or 300 meters from the surrounding valley floor. The valley is situated around 5,564 feet above sea level. The whole tribal park covers around 91,500 acres and extends into Utah.
- Size: 91,696 acres (spans Utah & Arizona)
- Name:Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii In Navajo
- Location: Arizona Near The Four Corners On The Navajo Nation
There are limited accommodation options within the Tribal Park - one of which includes the View Hotel which offers an overnight option with rooms and cabins with magnificent views of the valley. There are also camping options within Monument Valley as well.
Visiting Monument Valley Tribal Park
Visitors to Monument Valley can drive the 17-mile loop road that has now reopened to visitors. All entries are on a first-come, first-served basis, and wait times can be long.
- Motorcycles: Are Forbidden On The Loop Drive (Because of Terrain)
- Summer Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m (March-August)
- Scenic Drive Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Peak Season)
- Winter Loop Drive Hours: (Nov. 1st thru Jan. 31st) 8:00 am to 2:00 pm
- Admission Fee: $8 per person, per day
If one would like to spend more time and explore the backcountry, backcountry permits can be obtained from the Visitor Center. The San Juan River Permit is also available at the Welcome Center.
The entry fee is $8.00 per person per day (not per vehicle as with most national parks).
Besides the 17-mile loop dirt road, there is also one public hike in the valley. The hike is an easy 3-mile loop trail that takes visitors to Mitten Butte (one of the most iconic landmarks of the American West).
- Mitten Butte: Accessible By Trial Hiking: One 3-Mile Loop Trail to Mitten Butte
There are also guided jeep tours for visitors who would like to get up-close to some of the ancient cliff dwellings and natural arches dotting the landscapes. Visitors on self-guided tours are largely limited to the 17-mile loop road and the one hike.
Guided Tours Are The Best Way To See Monument Valley
Guided tours are also great ways to avoid the long wait times to get into the park. Another benefit of a guided tour is that there are parts of Monument Valley that are only accessible by a guided tour (like Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa).
The many tour operators are listed on the Navajo Nation's park website (most don't have websites instead one should call them directly). The tour operators offer guided tours of Monument Valley, San Juan River, and Horseback Trail Rides.
One example of a day and night tour (total of 18-20 hours), is the 18-Hour Hunts Mesa Tour. This tour immerses visitors in the beauty of Monument Valley and enables visitors to say overnight. It is an opportunity to see both the sunset and the sunrise while visiting the sandstone arches, red rock canyons, and ancient dwellings.
- Duration: 18-20 hours
- Ages: All ages
- Where: Hunts Mesa
- Includes: Dinner and Breakfast
- Cost: Adult $525, Youth (aged 8-17) $375
The tour includes dinner and breakfast (cooked over a cedar fire by the Navajo guide). It is an ideal tour for families, couples, and photographers.