Monument Valley Utah lies within the range of the Navajo National Reservation, and it’s one of the most haunting and beautiful areas in the United States. When you first approach the area, you may feel as if you’ve been transported to a different planet, and it’s easy to see why: The vast expanses of desert are marked by a series of eerie rock formations, and it may seem hard to believe these rock monuments were created solely by nature. Many of the destinations within Monument Valley defy description, except to say that they are simply stunning.
Some of the rock formations in the valley have become famous in their own right, with the Mittens and Merrick Butte featuring prominently in pictures not only of Monument Valley but of the American Southwest, as they have become the quintessential images of the desert and rock formations in the region. Spires such as the Three Sisters and the Totem Pole are also fascinating sights to explore. The major rock formations are clustered around Monument Valley Drive, a dirt loop road that has views of the Mittens, Yei Bi Chai, Elephant Butte, and the Totem Pole, among others. The road is within the Navajo Valley Tribal Park. The tribal park is typically the best place to start if you’re looking for a way to explore the valley, as the park has a visitors center, cultural attractions, and tour bookings to explore the valley.
Tours of Monument Valley are a popular thing to do during a trip here, not least because there are several different options for how to explore the terrain, but the best place to start is with the tours led by official Navajo guides, as they allow visitors into parts of the tribal park that would otherwise be off limits. Hot air balloon tours are another fascinating way to explore the area, and off-road jeep tours highlight just how rugged this terrain is. Finally, many movie fans, particularly those who like Westerns, take a tour of the area because it’s been featured in a number of films. John Ford’s Point is named for the famous film director who shot a number of his movies here, including The Searchers and Stagecoach, but the full list of films includes examples from other genres as well, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which Monument Valley was featured as an alien planet, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
There are numerous Monument Valley lodging options available as well if you want to immerse yourself in the surroundings. The Valley of the Gods Bed and Breakfast is located near the famous Mexican Hat Rock Formation, while Goulding’s Lodge, which has both hotel rooms and camping options for guests, is located close to the Arizona-Utah border, a few miles from the Navajo Valley Tribal Park. The View Hotel is actually located within the park, and this lovely hotel has some of the best views you’ll see anywhere in the region. Visitors can also look for local B&Bs, campgrounds, and chain motels along the highway that can provide a good home base while you explore the valley.