Last Updated on February 8, 2023
On a scenic drive through Northern Arizona, Monument Valley’s iconic landscapes inspire visitors.
In the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona, Monument Valley’s crimson mesas and towering sandstone buttes capture colors you’ll only see in nature. The buttes range from 400 feet (122m) to 1,000 feet (305m) above the valley floor.
The astonishing beauty of the desert landscape is one of the reasons, so many western movies have been filmed here. It also reflects the reverence the Navajo tribal communities have for the land. You can take a self-drive tour along along the scenic Valley Drive, or join one of the Navajo tours.
There is also a three-mile-long public hiking trail that is relatively flat. Be aware you must remain on the trail; hiking into the desert is prohibited.
Although the Monument Valley Drive is flush with the scenic desert landscape, many visitors long to see more of it. The only way to do so is on one of the Navajo-guided tours that visit areas that are off-limits to independent travelers.
Tours of Monument Valley
Tours are in converted pick-up trucks with rows of seats in the back. Guided Jeep tours are also available for up-close views of more isolated locations. The Monument Valley scenic drive can be rough and bumpy at times. But the road shouldn’t present a problem for most passenger cars if you drive carefully in dry conditions. You do not want to take the drive in the rain or snow. Also, allow two hours to cover the entire route at a leisurely pace.
The Drive is a dirt road that Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation maintains. Several parking areas along the way allow you to get a better view of the spectacular rock formations. The valley’s three most prominent monoliths are the East and West Mitten Buttes (so named because they look like hands with separated thumbs) and Merrick Butte.
Monument Valley is an iconic symbol of the American Southwest. As you pass the park’s visitor center, your first view of the distant buttes may look vaguely familiar. That’s because it’s the panorama one sees in so many old western movies.
In fact, so many movies have been filmed here, John Ford’s Point, the most popular stop, is named for the legendary Hollywood movie director who filmed several westerns here. In addition to a dramatic landscape, at this point you’ll also find a small shop and wooden stalls where the Navajo sell jewelry, pottery, and other crafts.
If You Go:
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
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