Road trip, Travel Guide

Utah Road Trip Guide: Monument Valley

Utah Road Trip Guide: Monument Valley is one of the most beautiful places I’ve had the privilege of visiting last year. Located on the Arizona-Utah state line, this iconic landmark is widely popular in Hollywood Western movies yet it still remains behind the scenes, next to the gargantuan national parks in Utah. Most people recognize the “Mittens”-The East and West Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte that look like hands, which can be viewed panoramically via the Visitor’s Center. This was one of the attractions we included in our itinerary for our Utah Road Trip last year. We arrived early in the morning hoping to catch the sun rising behind the Mittens. Unfortunately, we were greeted by a thick fog and were unable get a clear view. To pass time, we checked out the Visitor’s Center and Gift shop, where they sell beautiful and intricate handmade crafts and jewelry made by the Navajo tribe. After an hour or so and with the fog still predominant, we decided to get a closer look and do the scenic, self-guided valley drive. Luckily, we drove a truck, which made it easier for us to do the 17-mile unpaved dirt road.

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Things to know before you do the self-guided tour:

  • Scenic Drive Hours: Summer (May-Sept) 6am-8pm; Winter (Oct-April) 8am-5pm.
  • The 17-mile scenic drive is included in the General Admission fee of $20 that you will be paying at the entrance and it comes with a free Monument Valley map.
  • If you don’t have a truck, it’s best to schedule a Jeep tour with a Navajo guide to avoid abusing your car tires. It really was a bumpy ride for us! Plus, there’s also some other landmarks that can only be accessed via the guided tour. Visit this link to see the list of the guided tours: Guided Tours
  • There are no restrooms along the way. Make sure you go before you leave for the 17-mile drive.
  • If you don’t have time to do the whole scenic drive, there’s several pullout points where you can turn around and drive back. The road starts as a two-lane dirt road and becomes a one-way loop around Rain God Mesa. We didn’t drive all the way and ended up stopping at John Ford’s point, which I believe is the last pullout point before the road becomes narrow and you’re unable to do turn around.
  • The allotted time for the whole scenic drive is from 2-3 hours, which includes stops at the viewpoints.
  • For more information and detailed guides of the viewpoints/stops, check out American Southwest.

Scenic Drive Guide Lines:

  • Stay in designated route, unless escorted by a Tour Guide.
  • Use of ATV or off-road vehicles on restricted roads is prohibited.
  • NO Rock climbing.
  • Obtain permission and give gratuity when photographing a local resident.
  • Respect he the privacy of residents and live stocks.
  • Flash Floods can occur between June-August. Check with the park staff for potential weather hazard conditions.

We stopped at some of the viewpoints along the way, including the Elephant Butte and The Three Sisters before reaching John Ford’s Point.  It is named after the Hollywood director who made John Wayne famous. Some of his popular works include, Stage Coach, The Searchers and Cheyenne Autumn. It has been said that this point was his favorite place to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Monument Valley. Hence, it was named after him.

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After enjoying the breathtaking scenery and taking a lot of photos we were beyond excited to recreate the iconic image of a lone man on a horse standing at the edge of the cliff, overlooking the valley below. We spotted a Navajo man who allowed us to ride his horse for $5. He was very polite and told us that he is one of the Navajo people that still lives in the valley floor. I originally didn’t want to do it because I was scared that the horse might move and jump off the cliff (I don’t know why I thought that) but after some words of encouragement from my friend, I finally did it! It was definitely thrilling to be at the edge of the cliff! My husband and my friend’s boyfriend were also a bit reluctant to do it but after seeing our amazing photos, they decided that they had to join in on the fun as well.

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We drove back with high hopes of seeing the The Mittens unobscured by the fog. To our heart’s delight, the sky cleared up and we were gifted with a stunning view of the famous rock formations. I sat there, just taking it all in..obviously smitten by The Mittens. We didn’t have enough time to do the Wildcat Nature Walk but if you decide to do it, I’ve listed below some basic information along with useful info on where to stay and other nearby attractions.

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Straddling the border of Arizona and Utah, Monument Valley is one of those surreal places that leaves you in awe and inspires you to seek beauty in unconventional places. I hope someday you guys get to explore this one of a kind US landmark.

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Wildcat Nature Walk:

  • The wildcat trail is a scenic 3.3 mile hike that begins from primitive campground and makes a loop around the West Mitten Butte.
  • Allow 2-3 hours to complete the trail.
  • Make sure you bring your own water. There’s no drinking water available on the trail.
  • Wear clothes appropriate for the weather and wear proper footwear.

How to get here:

  • By Car: Accessible via Hwy 160 from the South. At Kayenta, turn north towards Hwy 163. If you’re coming from Moab, take Hwy 191 towards Blanding and then take Hwy 163 towards Monument Valley.
  •  By Plane: Page Municipal Airport in Page, AZ; Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, AZ;
  • By Train: Nearest train station is in Flagstaff, AZ via Amtrak.

Where to stay:

  • The View Hotel (the only hotel built within the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park).

– Call for room availabilities and rates: (435) 727-5556

  • Goulding’s Lodge and Campground

– Call for room availabilities and rates: (435) 727-3231

Where to eat:

  • The View Restaurant

– Breakfast: 7am-11am

– Lunch: 11am-2pm (dining room is closed from 2pm-5pm)

– Dinner: 5pm-closing

  • Deli Express & Salad bar open during closed hours of 2pm-5pm

Nearby Attractions:

  • Four Corners Monument- 102 miles
  • Mesa Verde National Park- 151 miles
  • Antelope Canyon– 116 miles
  • Horseshoe Bend– 116 miles
  • Natural Bridges National Monument- 67.6 miles
  • Canyon de Chelly National Monument- 93 miles

Other info:

  • Address: PO Box 360289, Monument Valley, UT 84536
  • Phone: (435) 727-5870
  • General admission: $10 per person (ages 9 and under free); $20 per vehicle up to 4 people.
  • For all other info regarding Permits, Visitor Center Hours, other fees such as detailed Park Entry fees and Commercial fees, visit: Monument Valley.
  • National Park passes are not accepted.

Looking for other Utah guides? Check these out:

Arches National Park

Dead Horse Point State Park

Zion National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park


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90 Comments

  1. Stacey

    January 13, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Sounds amazing and the photos are beautiful! I would definitely want to visit here!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 13, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      Thank you so much Stacey! 🙂 Yes! You def should. It’s one of a kind!

  2. Lee-Anne

    January 13, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    I have always wanted to visit monument valley. Thanks for sharing your tips on how to make the most of the experience.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 13, 2016 at 11:42 pm

      No problem at all Lee-Anne! Hope you can make it out there soon! 🙂

  3. Helena

    January 14, 2016 at 4:36 am

    I’m planning a trip there in a few months and got even more inspired to visit Monument Valley! Great post! I also really loved the pictures with the horse, awesome. I really want a picture like that of my own 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      I’m glad to hear that Helena! Thank you so much. 🙂

  4. Carmen Perez (listen2mama)

    January 14, 2016 at 4:57 am

    I have never visited that part of the country but it sure does look amazing. You took some really beautiful photos and it looks like you had a fantastic trip.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Thank you so much Carmen! I really had an amazing time. 🙂

  5. Alli

    January 14, 2016 at 5:15 am

    The photos are amazing. I can’t stop looking at them. I don’t know how brave I would be when it comes to sitting on a horse at the edge of a cliff. I would have those same thoughts running through my head. I have a little fear of heights. But you’re right, the photos are beautiful. I would love to visit Monument Valley.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      Thank you Alli! Yea, I was freaking out before I did it but it wasn’t actually too bad when I went on the horse. I have fear of heights as well but idk for some reason this one didnt bother me too much. 🙂

  6. Jenn @ EngineerMommy

    January 14, 2016 at 6:04 am

    I love road trips. This looks like such a beautiful, scenic trip! I’ve never been to Utah but I’d love to visit!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Glad you do too Jenn! You should def head out to Utah. Such a beautiful place to explore. 🙂

  7. Natasha

    January 14, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Love the photos! Makes me want to go, but this was the next best thing.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Hey Natasha! Thanks so much. Glad you like them. Hopefully you can see it in person. Its more beautiful.

  8. aaronica @ the crunchy mommy

    January 14, 2016 at 7:48 am

    these pictures are post-card worthy!!!!

    and what a great resource!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Thank you so much Aaronica! That’s so kind of you. Hope you got some useful info.

  9. Aimee

    January 14, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Your pictures are gorgeous. Great post with great info!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks Aimee! Glad you enjoyed this post.

  10. Heather | All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

    January 14, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Roadtrips are one of my favorite ways to spend time – this scenery is amazing! I’m saving this in hopes of setting out on the adventure one day.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Hey Heather! I’m glad you love road trips as well. I never get tired of it! Hope you can make it out there someday!

  11. Miranda (Anosa)

    January 14, 2016 at 8:37 am

    I definitely would go, what an incredible adventure, the scenery is just too breath taking to miss out on. Such lovely pictures you’ve shared

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Yes definitely Miranda! You have to see it in person. Its stunning! And thanks for liking my photos. 🙂

  12. Cara (@StylishGeek)

    January 14, 2016 at 8:59 am

    That place is breathtaking! And although I have never been there it looks so familiar. I wonder if they used this in the Transformers movie…or any other blockbuster movie. Whatever it is, I really want to see it now in person!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      It really is Cara! I don’t think they used it in the Transformers movies but it has been on several Western movies. And yes you def should!

  13. Terri Beavers

    January 14, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve wanted to go to Utah since my sister and BIL took their vacation there. If I make it, I’ll be certain to use your road guide. Your photos are stunning.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks Terri! Great to know that you’ll be using this road guide. And thanks for liking my photos. Hope you can make it out there soon!

  14. Sharon Wong

    January 14, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Going on a road trip has been on my bucket list for a while now. Hopefully I will get to go on one soon. Looks like you had a lot of fun. You make me want to go to Utah now haha. Thank for sharing! 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Hey Sharon! Hope you get to experience an epic US road trip soon too! I did have an amazing time. No worries at all! Glad you liked it. 🙂

  15. Liz Mays

    January 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    These are great photos. I’d love to take a road trip and see some of these sights. They’re really spectacular.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Thank you Liz! Road trips are my fave! Hope you get to go on one soon!

  16. Nicole

    January 14, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    It doesn’t get much more picturesque than that! I have yet to visit the west coast at all but I would definitely make this one of my stops when we do road trip it out there.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:11 am

      Right? You seriously have to Nicole. Utah is so beautiful no matter what season you visit!

  17. Jenn

    January 14, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Looks like a beautiful road trip. I’ve never been, but these photos are stunning.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:11 am

      It was Jenn. Thanks so much for liking my photos! 🙂

  18. Hannah

    January 14, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Oh gosh such amazing photos. I would love to go see that someday. Seeing all of that space, it would definitely make you feel small, and in awe of nature. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:12 am

      Thank you Hannah! That’s so sweet of you. I know I sound like a broken record, but you guys should definitely visit Utah! One of my fave states to road trip to. 🙂

  19. Christine

    January 14, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Your pictures are amazing. This is a beautiful place to go and your article makes me want to explore the area even further. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:13 am

      Thanks Christine! I’m really glad you said that. Hope you get to see it in person soon. 🙂

  20. Tiffany

    January 15, 2016 at 6:19 am

    Wow! These are gorgeous pictures! My dad goes to Utah every winter and he says it is so gorgeous. I’ve only seen pictures of the snowy parts, but this looks beautiful as well!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:14 am

      Thanks Tiffany! You should go with your dad! He knows what’s up! haha Bryce Canyon and Monument are gorgeous during winter!

  21. Jeanine

    January 15, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Such gorgeous photos. I’ve never seen anything like them. What a sight. I think it would be amazing to visit Monument Valley. Being in Canada, we don’t have anything like this around here!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:15 am

      Thank you Jeanine! Glad you like them. I know what you mean but I on the other hand, would actually love to visit Canada! Especially BANFF!

  22. Arzo Travels

    January 15, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Awesome scenery and great pictures! Love that post <3

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:15 am

      Thanks so much! 🙂

  23. Nancy @ Whispered Inspirations

    January 15, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    WOW. That outlook on a horse must be incredible. Excellent pictures. I will be headed to Vegas (Grand Canyon) but, I would love to see Utah.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

      It was Nancy! I almost peed in my pants! LOL But the horse was so nice and beautiful. You should visit Bryce Canyon or Zion! It’s not too far from Vegas. 🙂

  24. noel

    January 15, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    I’ve never been and it looks like an amazing landscape, sounds like fun doing this by 4whl drive to get to the best lookout points.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:18 am

      The 4wheel is the best mode of transport definitely!

  25. Dina Demarest

    January 15, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    What amazing photos! I can see myself enjoying a nice peaceful time at Monument Valley. The scenery is just mesmerizing.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:18 am

      Thanks Dina! If you want a more peaceful time there, you can camp under the stars!

  26. Sabrina

    January 16, 2016 at 12:56 am

    This wild side of the US is so fascinating! Very complete post, thank you for sharing all these tips! Where do you suggest to fly from?

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:19 am

      I suggest you fly from Phoenix than Flagstaff. More options for car rentals. Hope you get to visit soon! 🙂

  27. Natalie Deduck

    January 16, 2016 at 12:57 am

    Woow….
    What a stunning place! It’s feels like you were on the wild west movies… My husband and I have been planning to travel to USA for quite a long time, and you posts made me want to explore this stunning country even more. Beautiful nature, I think the experience of exploring the park on a horse would be awesome!
    Happy travels,
    Nat

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:20 am

      Aw I’m glad to hear that Natalie! Hope you guys get to see this in person soon! 🙂

  28. Natalie

    January 16, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Oh, I love the idea of riding the horse up to the edge of the cliff! That is always something I wanted to do in the west. I would also love to meet some of the Navajo people as well. It looks like you had a great time and were able to see some amazing views!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:21 am

      It is kinda cool right? I felt like I was in a Western movie lol. We only met a few of the Navajo people but I thought they were very kind. 🙂

  29. Lisa Rios

    January 16, 2016 at 4:08 am

    My goodness, that looks like a wonderful place to visit with your family. We have been to couple of road trips with our kids before & a trip to Monument Valley will be so great as well. Thanks for the trip guidance.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:22 am

      Not a problem at all Lisa! Your kids will love this landmark. 🙂

  30. antonette

    January 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    We saw Monument Valley with clear blue sky but I have to say that the clouds definitely make it look a lot more mystic. We did the drive and would only recommend it for a high clearance car, we didn’t have 4WD though but we were fine!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:23 am

      At first I was bummed that it was foggy that day but come to think of it, it actually had a nice effect in my photos. Glad you guys were able to visit this beautiful landmark!

  31. Vicki

    January 16, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Great photos – I think the fog adds great character to your shots. I visited in late Autumn so was blessed with a crisp clear day – but it was a bit windy and quite chilly when we took our tour in an open top jeep – and you’re right, the roads are bumpy!
    Thank you for sharing such an informative post on the where, hows and costs – I always find it really helpful to have a good overview of a place before I get there! Good job!

    -Vicki
    http://www.maketimetoseetheworld.com

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:24 am

      Thanks so much Vicki! It was kinda chilly too when we went. Wish we were able to do the Jeep tour too. Would’ve been nice to hear some stories about the place.

      Not a problem at all. Glad you liked it. 🙂

  32. Anna @ shenANNAgans

    January 17, 2016 at 1:51 am

    Your photos look like a scene from western movies I watched as a kid. Stunning…. I especially like the one with the horse and mist. 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:26 am

      I know right? It’s like I was in a movie set! 🙂

  33. Jenna

    January 17, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Great photos! Looks like an awesome area! We covered a lot of Utah last summer, but never made it to Monument Valley. Will have to add it to the list!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:27 am

      Thank you Jenna! 🙂 All the more reason to go back right?

  34. Karla (Karla Around The World)

    January 17, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    You pictures look like a scene straight out of lots of cowboy movies. I would really love to see these too one day.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:28 am

      Aw thanks Karla! I hope you get to see it soon too! 🙂

  35. Mar

    January 17, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Great photos and so well timed for the horses, awesome! The fog also gives it quite a mysterious feel perfect for the location

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:28 am

      Thank you Mar! I agree. The fog had a nice effect 🙂

  36. Maya

    January 17, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    The scenery looks absolutely beautiful. I’ve seen a film with climber Alex Honnold who climbed walls like these (it could be here, I don’t remember exactly). And he was helping natives through his foundation to install electric lights – very cool.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:29 am

      Ooh maybe? I havent seen that one yet. Will check it right now. 🙂

  37. Carolann

    January 17, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    What a great guide! You’ve definitely got us wanting to go here after reading this and seeing the pictures! The photos are absolutely breathtaking and those guidelines are awesome to know.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:31 am

      Glad you found it helpful Carolann! My goal is for everyone to visit the places I get to explore. Thanks for letting me know that I somehow have achieved that. 🙂

  38. Alyssa | Adjust Your Focus™

    January 18, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    I was here a few years ago, truly beautiful to see in person. LOVE you pictures and the horses! As a horse lover, those shots would be a dream for me. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:32 am

      Would love to see your photos too Alyssa! And thank you! 🙂

  39. Anita

    January 18, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    Great post and awesome pictures! It brings me back in time when I was visiting there. Thanks!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:32 am

      Thanks Anita! Glad you already visited this beauty! 🙂

  40. Aimee

    January 18, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Your photos are insane, what camera do you use? Great post too btw love that you’ve given so much detailed info 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 21, 2016 at 2:33 am

      Thanks Aimee! I use the Nikon D5300. Still learning but glad you like my photos. 🙂

  41. Welgrow

    February 2, 2016 at 1:12 am

    Hi Janna,

    Amazing photos, after watching those photos its look like you are in Mars or in another planet. Never seen that type of places in my life. I would like to go there.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      February 13, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      Hi Welgrow! Thanks so much for liking the photos.

      Right?? We do look like were on Mars! Hope you get to visit and explore it for yourself soon! 🙂

  42. Tally

    February 18, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    Thanks for being you! nice pics

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      February 23, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Aww that’s so nice of you! Thanks so much! and thanks for dropping by 🙂

  43. Nikki | The Traveling Ginger |

    July 9, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Wow! These photos are incredible! I’ve always wanted to travel here… TRAVEL GOALS!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 17, 2016 at 12:50 am

      Thank you so much Nikki! Glad you like my photos. Hope you get to visit someday! You will love it 🙂

  44. Khin

    May 12, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    So inspired to have found your page! Monument valley has been my next most ultimate destination. Your pictures are truly beautiful and amazing. May I know which camera and lens you used to capture those amazing photos? The ones with the horse near the cliff are superb!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      May 23, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      Aw thank you Khin! I appreciate it. I’m glad you like the photos. I have the Nikon D5300 and believe it or not, I only used the lens that it came with! 🙂

  45. Elizabeth

    November 19, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Hey Janna this is an amazing post. During what month did you visit?

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      November 20, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Hey Elizabeth! Thank you so much. I can’t remember exactly but I think I visited around October/November? Best time to go!

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