Nothing says “American West” like the landscape in Monument Valley. Unlike some of the other canyon parks, here the land is much more open and rolling, but with dramatic formations of sandstone towering hundreds of feet over you.
The land in the park is rocky, but doesn’t have the steep canyon walls of many nearby parks. This means you can see farther and really appreciate the amazing views, even as you hike along the floor of the plateau. Everything is rusty red and simply gorgeous, the perfect place for momentous photographs. In fact, you couldn’t take a bad photo here if you tried!
There is a mostly unpaved road that winds through the park, giving you a chance to see all the major sights with ease. (We recommend a guided tour which you can arrange when you arrive.) You’ll get good views of the Mittens, the Rain God Mesa, John Ford’s Point and Elephant Butte. The drive will take you 2 to 3 hours, depending on how often you stop for photos. And you will definitely want to stop frequently!
While you can see more of the park by car, you should take some time to explore a bit on foot as well. You do need to be part of a guided tour to see most parts of the park, but there is an open trail for 3 miles that will take you around the West Mitten Butte. If you want to hike farther, you’ll have to hook up with a tour group led by a Navajo guide. The Navajo are the original residents of this region so what better way to get a real insight into the park than with a Navajo guide?! Though many visitors may be tempted, rock climbing is not permitted anywhere in the park.
For a little bit of added excitement, get up into the sky and see the whole park from a completely new perspective. This magnificent landscape is absolutely wonderful from up above and can be enjoyed in an unforgettable hot air balloon ride, available from May until October.
Monument Valley is not an official US National Park, so you will have to pay the park entrance fees even if you have a National Park pass. These lands actually belong to the Navajo Nation and are part of a larger reserve.
- The park has made many movie and television appearances. You can see Monument Valley in “Forest Gump”, “Thelma & Louise” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” as well as countless John Ford westerns!
- Vintage Marlboro Man cigarette ads have images from the valley as their backdrop.