Monument Valley

Oljato-Monument Valley, UT 84536, USA

Nuzzled up against the Arizona border about 100 miles west of Four Corners are some 30 square miles of the most iconic scenery in the American West. Monument Valley is one of those places that you’ll recognize as soon as you see it, even if you’ve never been there before, as dozens of movies, TV shows, and even video games have used the area as a setting. It’s made up of mesas both small and large reaching up from the valley floor, some rising as high as 1,000 feet into the sky. Part of the Navajo Reservation, the area charges a $20-per-vehicle entrance fee to drive the dirt-road loop. Once in, however, you can also enjoy a number of hikes, or hire a guide for a horseback tour.

More Recommendations


Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park has expansive views that give the sensation that you’re on top of the world. The Mittens are two of the most famous formations, resembling mirror images of a left and right mitten; they have served as the backdrop to many old Western films. Drivers can embark on a 17-mile scenic drive for an up-close look at the park’s majestic buttes and mesas. Views from the visitor center’s terraces are equally impressive and offer comprehensive views of the otherworldly landscape.

Go Gump in Monument Valley

I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life. At least that’s how I felt when I stepped off our Go Ahead bus, the rock monoliths and ancient stone sentinels of Monument Valley clawing at the horizon before me. I felt removed from my own self in the moment, standing on that legendary road with the hard midday sun peering over my shoulder, as if I were watching someone else have the road trip of a lifetime in one of the most iconic locations in the country. I think some of my fellow travelers felt the same way – few words were spoken between us as we marveled at the scenery and stole photographs. We arrived at the Monument Valley visitor’s center a short time after this initial stop, and I had a fantastic time touring around the area, but nothing will ever compare to the feeling I had during those first few moments out on the open road.

Flash Parker traveled on Go Ahead’s U.S. National Parks tour as part of AFAR’s partnership with the United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, and peace-of-mind to destinations across the globe. For more on Flash’s journey, visit the USTOA Blog.

Find Inspiration in the Desert

Monument Valley has been at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and while we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the countryside, or ride deep into the rugged desert terrain, this Go Ahead visit did inspire even more wanderlust within me – a job well done of any excellent tour provider, really. I did spend plenty of time doing exactly what the young lady in this photo is doing – sitting on a rocky perch, notebook in hand, trying like crazy to communicate something of this marvelous place in prose.

Flash Parker traveled on Go Ahead’s U.S. National Parks tour as part of AFAR’s partnership with the United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, and peace-of-mind to destinations across the globe. For more on Flash’s journey, visit the USTOA Blog.

A Very Spiritual Landscape

I am not a very spiritual person but there is something innately spiritual about the sunset view from the top of Hunts Mesa overlooking Monument Valley. The imagery has stuck in my mind and will not soon be forgotten!

Monumental Scenery

Being a child of the Southwest there are two times each day you press pause for, sun rise and sunset. Such is so in my personal opinion for best viewing Monument Valley. The National park conveniently opens at 6 am and closes at 8 pm from May through September. Fantastic views from every direction. What especially makes this National park unique is the 17 mile scenic driving path. This easy going feature will let you make the most of the experience getting in all the photos of that beautiful sunrise or sunset you want. Hikers also have many paths to choose from and more miles to experience unique features that aren’t visible by car.

Desert Transformed

Past the “No Public Allowed” signs, our Navajo guide granted us special permission to access the backcountry of the Navajo Nation reservation in Monument Valley, Utah. This access afforded us beautiful views that are rarely seen by the general public. Above, is a temporary lake near the cave called Big Hogan. The red clay desert becomes a shallow lake for a few weeks after a recent rainstorm. The red clay is non-porous creating a flat lakebed of shimmering quality at day’s end. That night, we slept in sleeping bags inside a traditional Navajo mud hut, called a hogan. Outside we watched million of stars on display as they circled the earth. A simple campfire. The scents and sounds of wild horses, big horn sheep, and scattering field mice dancing around the snake holes kept us close to the fire’s warmth.

Another Day Hiking...

Sunset in Monument Valley, Utah

The Mittens

Classic John Wayne. Monument Valley on the Arizona Utah border.

Star in Your Own Western

There’s a reason the setting looks familiar at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Narrow your eyes here, and you can almost see John Wayne riding across the landscape in Stagecoach. Enormous spires thrust toward the sky in this austere stretch of the Colorado Plateau, accenting a seemingly endless vista of mesas and sandstone bluffs carved from the land by wind, water and time. The valley is home to the Navajo people, and their ancient culture is deeply entwined with the terrain. Learn about that history at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, where American Indian guides interpret both the landscape and its inhabitants.

Snow capped monument valley

On the way to Moab from Telluride, we confronted a mean hail storm that chased us down the 191 and across the 163. Was truly a blessing in disguise since we were able to encounter this beautiful vista at sunset while heading south on 163 into Monument Valley.

Make It Yours

Want to see this from your private room terrace? No problem. Make a reservation at The View Hotel and you will get it.

Spaghetti Westerns are made of this...

A perfect moment of a Navajo on horseback in Monument Valley.....

Information on this page, including website, location, and opening hours, is subject to have changed since this page was last published. If you would like to report anything that’s inaccurate, let us know at

Nearby highlights
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR