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Monument Valley

Flat desert floor with staggering buttes and mesas.

Elevation: 
5,200 Feet
Monument Valley in Mexican Hat, Utah is a stunningly beautiful landscape located in the southwestern United States. Spanning parts of both Arizona and Utah, it offers visitors incredible views of towering buttes, spires, mesas and other geological wonders. It’s a popular destination for photographers and outdoor enthusiasts alike due to its vibrant colors and scenic nature.

The area known as Monument Valley is part of the Colorado Plateau, an area that covers much of the Four Corners region. It’s one of the most iconic visual representations of the Southwest U.S., and has been featured in countless books, movies, television shows, and other media.

The true beauty of Monument Valley is best experienced in person. Driving through the valley, visitors will find themselves surrounded by majestic cliffs, soaring rock formations, and vibrant hues of reds, oranges, and yellows. Those looking for a more active experience can take part in one of the many guided tours offered, or embark on a self-guided journey through this awe-inspiring landscape.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just an admirer of stunning natural beauty, Monument Valley is sure to captivate you. There is plenty to do here, from taking a leisurely drive and admiring the amazing views, to embarking on an adventurous hike and exploring the area’s incredible wildlife. No matter what kind of experience you’re looking for, Monument Valley has something that will capture your imagination.

geology

The landscape consists primarily of sedimentary rocks that have been eroded over millions of years to create the stunning buttes, spires, and mesas that form the valley today. The erosive forces of wind and water have sculpted the unique formations you’ll find here, creating an ever-changing landscape that is constantly evolving.

The most recognizable formation in Monument Valley is a cluster of buttes known as “the Mittens”; these two iconic peaks are the symbol of this region and continue to draw visitors from around the world.

history

The area now known as Monument Valley has been occupied by Native Americans since at least the 12th century. Several tribes have lived in the valley over the years, including the Navajo and Hopi, both of whom consider it sacred land.

In the late 19th century, Anglo-American settlers began to arrive in what is now Arizona and Utah. Over the years, several towns sprung up in the area, including Kayenta, an important trading post for Navajo and Hopi tribes.

Today, Monument Valley is part of the Navajo Nation Reservation and is home to a small population of Native Americans who still inhabit the region. Visitors are welcome to explore the area but should be respectful of the cultural and historical significance of this land.
Photo gallery

Wildlife

Monument Valley in Mexican Hat, Utah is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes, and wild horses. Those looking for an even more exotic experience can also spot roadrunners, golden eagles, and raptors like hawks and falcons soaring through the skies.

Things to do

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Jeep tours
  • Horseback Riding 
  • Scenic Drives
  • Stargazing

Points of interest

The Mittens: A rock formation that looks like a pair of mittens. 

Merrick Butte: A formation neighbor to the mittens.

Wild Cat Trail:  Is a self guided 4 mile loop trail that takes you right below The Mittens and Merrick Butte. 

Totem Pole and Yei-Bi-Chei: Are two different formations right next to each other. Totem Pole because of its resemblance to a totem pole and Yei-Bi-Chei is named for a resemblance to fire dancers. 

Valley of the Gods: Is an open desert floor filled with soaring pinnacles and buttes.

Eye of the Sun: Is a pothole arch resembling an eye found in the Monument Valley. 

Monument Valley Drive: A lovely drive where countless movies and commercials have been filmed. 

Goulding’s Lodge: Nestled against the mountainside, Goulding’s offers lodge accommodations, a campground, RV sites, a pool, and cabins. 

The View Hotel: The View Hotel is the only hotel in Monument Valley.

Mystery Valley: An exclusive tour of monument valley that requires a guide. 

Hunts Mesa: Is an all day tour with incredible valley views that requires a guide. There is also an overnight option. 

Rainbow Bridge: A multi-day, 32 mile round trip, rugged trail through tribal lands that requires a permit.

PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO MONUMENT VALLEY

For those looking to experience the beauty of Monument Valley, there are a few things you should consider when planning your trip.

The best time to travel to this region is from April through October, as the summertime heat can be extreme. It’s also important to make sure you have plenty of supplies and water for your journey, as the area is quite remote and there are few services available.

If you’re looking for a guided tour of Monument Valley, many companies offer day trips that go through the valley and provide an up-close look at its unique geological features. Otherwise, visitors can explore the area on their own by taking a self-guided tour and exploring the many trails, sights, and attractions that make Monument Valley such a special place.

Nearby cities / towns

  • Mexican Hat, Utah - 25 miles / 30 min
  • Kayenta, Arizona -  25 miles / 30 min
  • Bluff,  Utah - 50 miles / 1 hr
  • Page, Arizona - 125 miles / 2 hrs 15 min
  • Moab, Utah - 150 miles / 2 hrs 45 min
  • Phoenix, Arizona - 325 miles / 5 hrs

lodging/camping

For those who want to stay longer and experience Monument Valley fully, there are several lodging options in the area. The View Hotel is a popular choice for visitors; this luxurious hotel sits atop a mesa overlooking the valley and offers breathtaking views of the landscape. There are hotels and motels found in Mexican Hat, Utah and Kayenta, Arizona.

dining

If you’re looking for a place to eat, there are a few restaurants in the area that offer traditional Navajo and Hopi cuisine. The View Hotel has a restaurant on-site, and there are several other restaurants in the area. There are also snack bars and convenience stores where you can grab snacks or light meals.

Fees/permits

There is a fee for general admission for the drive around the monument. For more information about fees, visit the Navajo Nation website for all amounts for Monument Valley.

Pets

Pets are allowed in Monument Valley. Pets must be leashed while visiting and owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

National Attractions

Cedar Breaks

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Dinosaur

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Flaming Gorge

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Grand Staircase

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Lake Powell

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Monument Valley

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Rainbow Bridge

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San Rafael Swell

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