Leisure/Drives
Now Reading
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park – Arizona
0
Overview
Location

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona

Sights

Many spectacular red rock towers and formations

Distance

We drove around 17 miles on the Valley Drive.

Time Required

It took about 3 hours for us to see everything we wanted to see. You can drive as slow or fast as you want.

Fees

*2016 prices
$20 per vehicle with 4 people inside
Additional passengers is $6 per person

Water Info

Bring your own water if you do the Valley Drive

Best Season

Spring or fall

Hours

Visitor Center Hours:
Peak Season (May 1 - Sept 30) 6:00am - 8:00pm, 7 Days a week
Off Season (Oct 1 - Apr 30) until 8:00am - 5:00pm, 7 Days a week
Thanksgiving Day - 8:00am - noon
New Years Day - closed
Christmas Day - closed

Scenic Drive Hours:
Peak Season (May 1-Sept 30) 6:00am - 8:00pm
Off Season (Oct - Apr) 8:00am - 4:30pm

Sun Exposure

Shade is minimal

Trail Condition

Graded dirt road. We saw all sorts of vehicles on this including a corvette!
It's a 17 mile scenic drive.

Restrooms

There are several areas with restrooms.

Visitor Center

Yes. At the main entrance.

Camping

By permit only.
It takes 3-4 weeks to obtain a backcountry hiking and camping permit.
Call 928-871-6647 for questions

Food

Bring your own food if you do the drive. There is one place along the way that sells a few food items.

Family Friendly?

Yes

Trail Map


Driving Directions


The Trail:

Let me start off by saying that Monument Valley is in no way part of the United States National Park system.  They want to make that explicitly clear so that people don’t assume they can use their Golden Eagle or other discounted pass to gain entrance.

Monument Valley only has one maintained hiking trail.  We were planning on doing the hike after the scenic drive but we didn’t have the energy to do a long hike.

Besides the one hiking trail there is only one 17 mile dirt road which you may drive on.  There are additional side trails which are only available through a guide service and these cost extra.  The main scenic drive is called the Valley Drive and it winds around below all the towering cliffs and “monuments”.  It is of course the best way to experience the valley.

Having not knowing anything beforehand about how the tribal park was set up we were surprised to find gift stands and shops located along the drive through the valley.  Just about every pull-out had some tables set up with jewelry on them.   The jewelry was beautiful but we couldn’t care less about buying stuff while we were enjoying the drive.  In fact, we saw so many gift stands that I started to joke that this place should be called “gift shop valley” instead.  I just felt like it kind of cheapened the experience a little.

Another thing to be aware of is that some people live in the valley, so if you try and take a picture of the famous Mittens, you may notice a few mobile homes down in the valley below.  It isn’t a big deal but we were surprised to see that too.

The scenic drive which is called the Valley Drive, begins right at the visitor center.  We went inside first to check out the restaurant, displays and buy some gifts at the gift shop.  The displays were interesting but we found that the large gift shop seemed to be the main focus of the visitor center.  There is of course a hotel here too which overlooks the Mittens and Merrick butte.  The hotel has an incredible vantage point of the valley! We would have loved to stay here but we had some other adventures planned for the Bluff area back in Utah.

Just about any vehicle can make it through the Valley Drive.  We saw sports cars, other low clearance vehicles and lots of trucks and Jeeps.   The dirt road was graded and smooth for the most part and you are free to stop and take pictures at any point along the road.   I recommend you get a map and a paper guide from the Visitor Center or from the Fee Station before you start so you can see all the names of the landmarks and the history of the tribal park.

There are pullouts along the way.  We stopped at almost all of these to get pictures of the scenery.

The first major pull out was right in front of Merrick Butte which also had an incredible view of the Mittens.

We got back in our car and slowly made our way to the next pull out where you can pay to sit on a horse and get an awesome picture of you looking out over Monument Valley.   This pull out also had a snack stand with fry bread and Navajo tacos.  It wasn’t open when we were visiting but the horse stalls were and if you wanted to you could rent a horse for a few hours and go on a tour.

After this the road does a big loop around several mesas and then meets back at the same point. The next really cool stop is at the Totem Pole.

We found a random cat hiding under this rock…

I thought the Totem Pole and the Yei Bi Chei were one of the more enjoyable stops.   The Totem Pole seems to be perfectly straight as it shoots straight up into the sky.  You can only view it from far away but it is easily over 200ft high.

The road then heads north to the next major overlook.  This stop faces back towards the Visitor Center and the Mittens giving you a 180 degree view of the Mittens and Merrick Butte.

Looking back at the Visitor Center

After this we drove to another area called the North Window which also offered an amazing spot to view the valley below.

We came back around to the visitor center and then headed out to Bluff Utah.   We pulled over and had to take a picture of the road cutting down into the valley.

Personal Thoughts:

To be honest, I thought I would enjoy Monument Valley much more than I did.  I was expecting miles and miles of pristine wilderness with maybe a few roads.  I did indeed find that amazing landscape but it was instead adulterated with gift stands and mobile homes.  I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy Monument Valley immensely, because I certainly did.  I just felt like when we take an amazing and completely natural place and we cheapen the experience by sprinkling gift stands and shops around the area, we begin to lose focus on why we have a park there in the first place.  The park itself should be the main draw, and it mostly is.  But after seeing the 20th gift stand blocking my view I began to see that commercialization and money are slowly dethroning the natural majestic beauty of these monuments.

I hope you visit here and see the valley for what it is and have a better experience than mine.

Trek Planner Logo

Ratings (out of 10)
Trek Planner Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Difficulty
3.0
Technicality
2.5
Enjoyment
7.0
The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

6.7
Trek Planner Rating
User Rating
You have rated this
What's your reaction?
Love It
0%
Interesting
50%
Nice!
50%
Silly
0%
Meh...
0%
Booo!
0%
About The Author
Jeff Johnson
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! JeffTJohnson@ymail.com

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of