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Monument Valley Featured Destination:

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Monument Valley, Utah

The red rock spires of Monument Valley have been scene-stealers in more western movies than any other place in the U.S., providing a natural backdrop for John Wayne and other silver-screen cowboys. There is no doubt that the richly colored sandstone formations are camera-ready--it is also one of the most photographed landmarks in the U.S.

The origins of the place are pretty captivating, too. This portion of the Colorado Plateau, at the border of Utah and Arizona, was worn down and whittled away by 50 million years of wind and water erosion, leaving layered, crumbling buttes and pinnacles to punctuate the dry terrain.

The Navajo are the keepers of this place, important in the continuation of their tribal beliefs and culture. The Navajo are also your gracious guides to the 30,000-acre park, offering special Jeep tours of the area and sharing the best places to play paparazzi to the park's most beautiful stars.

Best Time to Visit:

Peak season in the park is May through September when the campground is open and scenic drive hours run from 6 am to 8:30 pm. Drive hours shorten October through April.

What to Do:

While Navajo guides can take you to places in the park that you can't go on your own, you can still take a self-guided drive. Start at the Monument Valley Visitor Center for a panoramic view of the formations you'll see up close, like Mitten Butte and Merrick Butte. The center is also filled with displays about the significance of the area and Navajo culture. The 17-mile-long drive through the park meanders pass monuments named Elephant and Camel for their wildlife doppelgangers, or The Hub and the Yei Bi Chei, a nod to traditional Navajo gatherings. If you want to get of the car and get closer, hike the three-mile trail around the West Mitten Butte. Get Directions

Other Monument Valley Destinations:

  • Hunt's Mesa. This is one of the most popular places to experience panoramic views of Monument Valley. Additionally, visitors can view a number of natural bridges and arches located near the canyons on the southern edge of the mesa. Get Directions
  • Monument Pass. Get a closer look at the landscape on a guided hike through Monument Pass, including up-close views of the Stagecoach, King on His Throne, Saddleback, and Bear and Rabbit formations. Get Directions
  • Wildcat Trail. Looping around West Mitten Butte, this 3.2 mile trail is the only official maintained path in Monument Valley and the only trail not requiring a guide. Get Directions
  • Valley Drive. Drive along this 17-mile scenic road through Monument Valley to wind past many of the notable formations throughout the area, including Rain God Mesa - the geological heart of valley, Totem Pole, Yei Bi Chei, Hunts Mesa and more. Get Directions
  • Goulding's Lodge Trading Post Museum. Visit the museum to discover the history of Goulding's Lodge, from its heyday as a trading post to the role it played in Old West movies, as well as to learn about the history of Monument Valley itself. Get Directions

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