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Visiting Monument Valley Tribal Park, Arizona and Utah

Updated on March 11, 2013

What Is Monument Valley?

Located in the Southwest, on the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley is a naturally made formation from the erosion of the Rocky Mountains. The eroded material became sandstone and the formation in the valley canyons from wind and water around the geologic swellings. It crosses into the states of Utah and Arizona.

Popular movies have been filmed in Monument Valley. Here are a few more well-known films that included scenes filmed in this unique natural setting:

The Native Story of How Monument Valley Came To Be

There is a story passed down through the generations of the origin of Monument Valley. There was a first Man and first Woman. They had Twins. The Twins were taught by Spider Woman some spells and prayers. When the Twins went up against some monsters, they turned them into the immense stonework that stand in the valley today. The Twins went on to populate the Navajo people, also known as the Dine (pronounced Dee-neh).

Monument Valley at Sunset, USA.
Monument Valley at Sunset, USA. | Source

Where Is Navajo Nation? Where is Monument Valley?

The Navajo Nation is comprised of 16 million acres. It crosses Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah areas. It is the ancestral homeland of the Navajo Indians. Though Navajo were forced off their lands by the US government, they were later allowed to return to it once more. The Navajo are one of the few United States Native American (Native Indian) groups to have retained a portion their original homeland, referred to commonly as "the reservation" or, by native people who live there, as "the rez." This reservation is the largest of all reservations and there are more than 180,000 people who live in the Navajo Nation.

Monument Valley is a 30,000 acre portion of the Navajo Nation dedicated as a Navajo Park. Unless you have a Navajo with you, you may not venture off the scenic trail or designated visitor areas. The Navajo Park is located on the borders of Arizona and Utah.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Visitor Center

Most people recognize Monument Valley from Hollywood films. At the Visitor Center, tourists are able to learn how the natural formations were geologically formed. Visitors may also request hiking permits. A modest admission fee (for ages 10 and over) is only $5 per person. The overnight camping fee is also very affordable at $10 a night.

Some popular places to visit in the park include:

  • Gouldings Trading Post - This was a real trading post that is now a place to learn about the past and to witness the Hollywood connection to Monument Valley.
  • Natural Buttes - Three Mittens, Three Sisters, Totem Pole (made famous in films)

Monument Valley in November
Monument Valley in November | Source

Monument Valley - Tours

Tours are offered by guides:

  • horseback riding tours
  • vehicle tours
  • hiking tours

For more information, visit the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation tour page.

Grand Canyon Tours also offers several tourist packages and free shuttles from the Flagstaff area, in Arizona.

Monument Valley Balloon Event

Each year, the Navajo Nation hosts the Monument Valley Balloon Event. This three-day event starts on a Friday, ends on a Sunday, and includes so much more than balloon rides. There are dances, lectures, prayer ceremonies, singers and Sunday service. There is a trail walk (no strollers). Be advised that temperatures vary greatly from morning to evening so dressing in layers is suggested and wear appropriate shoes for the guided trail walks.

Monument Valley Hotels

Four main lodges are available:

  • Deluxe Lodging at Monument Valley
  • The View Hotel, Monument Valley - This is the only hotel you can see the sun rise over The Mittens.
  • Black's Hogan B&B
  • Firetree B&B

Monument Valley, Arizona Highway 163N
Monument Valley, Arizona Highway 163N | Source

Weather in Monument Valley Tribal Park

Winters are as cold as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Summertime temperatures soar to the high 90s and, at certain times, 100s. Use sunblock and carry more water than you think you will need... because you will need it!

* Be respectful of the Navajo. NEVER spread ashes of the deceased on Navajo lands. *

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In The Southwest

There is more to do, see, and experience in the Southwest:

California - Celebrate on the California Coast

Nevada - Sin City! Free Las Vegas!

Colorado - Grand Canyon West & The Skywalk

New Mexico - Art & Nature Await in New Mexico

Texas - Top 5 Things To Do in San Antonio

Southwest - An Overview of the Southwest Region of the USA

Train Trips In The Southwest


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    • Li Galo profile image

      Li Galo 2 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Thank you, Blackspanieli!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 2 years ago

      The photography is fantastic.