Monument Valley

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Monument Valley is an adventure for the truly adventurous. Loaded with iconic scenery from western movies and pictures, this site is located right on the Arizona side of Utah’s southern border. Monument Valley is run by the Navajo Nation and requires a $20 entrance fee and a sturdy vehicle.

I remember when I was young my Dad wanted to drive us out to Monument Valley to see all the amazing southwest imagery from his beloved John Wayne movies. We complained because it’s a long hot way from anywhere, and back then our car didn’t have air conditioning. With all of us set against him, we never actually made it to the park. We just drove by!

As you drive toward Monument Valley, the rocks definitely stand out.

Visitor Center

Since our van is much more comfortable than that old Plymouth Duster, I was all for this trip to Monument Valley. We accessed the valley from the northeast after spending the night in Bluff, Utah. After paying the fee to enter, we drove up to the Visitor Center. There is a small museum, a restaurant, and a gift shop. Be sure to ask about the Junior Ranger program at the information desk.

There are a few displays about the Navajo people who run Monument Valley.
The museum was small but interesting.

The Road

There is a hike out on the flat, but we skipped it and drove the loop road. There are a few really amazing highlights, like the Mittens, which symbolize the southwest even more than Delicate Arch. Before we get to that, though, we should say a few words about the road. It’s steep in a few places, dusty in most places, and rocky in all places. Our van has pretty good clearance, but we saw quite a few cars in Monument Valley, too. Just make sure to go slow and avoid the big rocks, and you should be fine.

The road is very dusty, and has dips and rocks. Be careful!

The loop winds around huge rock monuments that have been carved away into amazing formations. Though the adults liked the Mittens and the Three Sisters, the kids were just as excited about the Elephant and the Camel. It was really cool to drive through and see the stone towering into the sky.

The iconic mittens are stunning to see in person.
The landscape is truly beautiful in Monument Valley.
We liked looking at the rocks and deciding what they looked like. This rock is called the Thumb, and also the Boot. Which do you think it looks like?

John Ford Point

One of the best stops was John Ford Point. This stop allows you to walk out and take a picture at in front of the valley. The famous Man on a Horse picture was taken there and has become a token of pop culture that is almost universally recognized. We stopped and took a few pictures, and it wasn’t too busy.

The lookout at John Ford’s Point is beautiful.

Monument Valley is a great way to spend half a day. This adventure pairs well with Canyon de Chelly National Monument, which is just down the road in Chinle, too! Or check out other ides to do near Bluff and Blanding.

The Three Sisters is another famous formation at Monument Valley.

Tips For Families

  • We visited in the morning. The mittens did not have good lighting, but everything else was great, so if you are serious about your pictures, consider what time of day you will visit.
  • If you decide to do the hike, there is no shade and it gets really hot in the summer, so make sure to take lots of water and try to hike in the morning or evening.

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