Monument Valley, the setting for countless films, represents the dream of every traveler in the American Far West. It's a sort of myth built into the collective imagination by Lucky Luke's comics, and by John Wayne's westerns.
Monument Valley is not a national park, but a park run by the ancient Navajo Indian tribe. The Navajo, owners of the place, call this place “Tsé Bii” Ndzisgaii ”, which means“ the valley of the rocks ”.
And just as the name describes, this spectacular place is made from huge rocks and pinnacles that rise from the valley floor, like stone castles in the desert. The red and orange sandstone against the deep blue sky creates stunning images. Photographers can create real masterpieces here.
Monument Valley is the result of a long process of soil movement and its erosion, where water and wind worked to carve mounds, mesas and other rocks so characteristic of the region. A 17-mile dirt road passes through the stone "structures", with trails all along the way.
Today Monument Valley is undoubtedly the park that best characterizes the American West and the idea we have of it.
How to get to Monument Valley
Monument Valley is located in northeastern Arizona, bordering Utah. The park is located 200 km from Page (Arizona), 244 km from Moab (Utah), 250 km from Farmington (New Mexico), 288 km from Flagstaff (Arizona) and 643 km from Las Vegas (Nevada).Find out how to visit Grand Canyon and Monument Valley in 1 day
The closest cities are Mexican Hat (Utah), Kayenta (Arizona) and Bluff (Utah). Getting there is very simple, there is only one way to go, the US 163, which passes alongside Monument Valley.
If you are coming from the north you can also see along the way:
– Valley of the Gods, a sort of little sister of Monument Valley, whose admission is free;
- Moky Dugway, a somewhat winding road to reach the Muley Point and from where you can enjoy an extraordinary view from above;
- the Goosenecks State Park and the spectacular routes of the San Juan River, which resemble Horseshoe Bend, near Page;
- also to Mexican hat, there is a particular rock formation to make a nice photo stop;
- finally, 24 km before the entrance to Monument Valley, there is the Forrest Gump Point, on 163, where in the famous film Forrest interrupted his run.
When to visit Monument Valley
This spectacular place is located on the Colorado plateau, 1500 meters above sea level. THE warmer months in Monument Valley it is July and August, when the temperature reaches 35 degrees.
In winter temperatures can also go below freezing, especially in the months of December and January. Sometimes it can happen to find snow in the winter period. From July to October instead it is the time of the year that experiences more rainfall.
Il best time to visit the Monument Valley is in the months of April, May, June.
Price of entry to Monument Valley
Monument Valley is not a National Park or a National Monument, but a Navajo Tribal Park. Consequently, the pass America the Beautiful it is not valid for entry to the park.
Il admission price and of:
- $ 20 for a car of up to four people
- $ 6 for each additional person
- for children under 6, admission is free
What to see in Monument Valley
In addition to enjoying the view from the visitor center viewpoint, it is advisable to take a visit to Monument Valley la Valley Drive. This 27 km dirt road, which winds between the monoliths and other rock formations, will bring you closer to some of the most beautiful and famous rock conformations, giving you breathtaking views and unique emotions.
Along the way you can admire: East and West Mitten, Merrick Buttes, but also Elephant Butte, The Three Sisters, Totem Pole, Artist’s Point e John Ford’s Point. This last vantage point is mythical. The American director had used this point of view for the film "The prisoner of the desert".
On this promontory with the monoliths in the background, you can meet a Navajo Indian on his horse. You can simply take a great photo of the scene or, for a few dollars, you can go up and take one photo on the horse, with a film background.
How to visit Monument Valley
Monument Valley can be easily visited by car. But be careful, if you rent a car that is too low, some parts of the route will be more difficult to cross and you risk touching the bottom of the car. Entry to campers is always prohibited.
An alternative solution is to visit the park and Valley Drive with the off-road tour, led by the Navajo. Beyond the Valley Drive you can sometimes also reach restricted areas, the Mystery Valley and areas closed to those who go there with their own car (Hunt Mesa, Ear of the Wind,…).
The minimum cost is $ 60 per person and you can choose between different formulas: Valley Drive Tour (1 hour and 30 minutes), Sunrise o Sunset Tour (3 ore), Mystery Valley Tour (3 hours and 30 minutes). Bring something with you to cover your mouth and nose from dust.
Monument Valley is open all year round.
Opening hours of the Visitor Center:
- from 6:00 to 20:00 from May 1st to September 30th
- from 8:00 to 17:00 from October 1st to April 30th
Open in the morning on Thanksgiving holiday. Closed for Christmas and New Year.
Valley Drive Access Hours:
- from 6:00 to 20:00 from May 1st to September 30th
- from 8:00 to 16:30 from October 1st to April 30th
Monument Valley is in the middle of nowhere. Even medium-sized cities are hours away. Despite the influx of tourists, the options for lodging are very limited and the beds run out quickly.
Stay in or near Monument Valley
The View, the hotel run by the Navajos inside the park, offers a special experience. From its rooms you can watch the spectacular sunsets and sunrises over the park's rocky spiers.Check availability and book a room
Not far away, 9 km from the visitor center, there is the possibility of staying at the Goulding's Lodge. In addition to the motel, there are also cabins and camping tents, well located, with all modern amenities, but the view from here has nothing to do with the view from The View.Check availability and book a room
The third possibility is the Firetree B&B (18 km) which offers traditional Navajo huts as accommodation for hogans.
Rates: From $ 20 for camping, from $ 120 for The View hotel, and from $ 75 for Goulding's Lodge.
Stay in the city near Monument Valley
So, if you are not staying in the facilities within Monument Valley or nearby, such as The View, Goulding's Lodge or the few nearby accommodations (tents or hogans), you can choose to sleep in the towns of Kayenta, Mexican Hat or Bluff.
RatesPrices for motels in Kayenta, Bluff or Mexican Hat vary by period. However, hotels and lodges in these cities charge cheaper rates than hotels in or near Monument Valley.Find accommodation in Kayenta (42 km away)
Find accommodation in Bluff (80 km away)
Find accommodation in Mexican Hat (40 km away)
And then, in addition to the cities mentioned above, you can choose between:
Moab, Mix o Monticello in Utah
Cortez in Colorado
Page o Flagstaff in Arizona
Farmington in New Mexico
When to arrive: the time zone
It should be noted that there are four time zones in the United States (Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern) and that theArizona, located in Mountain Time, has a special status as it does not observe daylight saving time. Then, from early March to early November, the state adopts Pacific Time (California, Nevada).
But Monument Valley it is located in the Navajo lands, straddling four states. Indians observe Utah time zone (Mountain Time) throughout the year, including daylight saving time.
So even though Monument Valley straddles Utah and Arizona, it still observes Utah weather. This is important if you are coming from the Grand Canyon or Page (during the summer time period). When it's 13pm in Page, it's 00pm in Monument Valley. Remember the time change not to miss your excursions or appointments.
How long does it take for the visit
Tourists often have little time and visit the park quickly by car, visiting only some of the most important viewpoints. For a complete visit takes at least 2-3 hours, in order to enjoy the visit to the fullest.
For those who have a little more time the ideal choice would be to stay at least one night and enjoy the spectacular views of the monoliths at sunset and sunrise, when the sun rises behind the rocks.
Monument Valley nei film
Monument Valley is one of the most famous movie sets in the world. One of the most famous places is obviously the John Ford, location of films such as: The Fantastic Ride, The Heroic Charge or The Prisoner of the Desert.
Some scenes from Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone), Windtalkers (John Woo), 2001, Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick), Sanction (Clint Eastwood), Back to the Future 3 (Robert Zemeckis), Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis ) and Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper) were shot right here.