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Monument Valley, Utah
Fast Facts
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Monument Valley, Utah

 

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Tsé Bii' Ndzisgaii, Valley of the Rocks in Navajo, straddles the Utah-Arizona border and it is heralded by both. The reason? Monument Valley is the icon of the American West. Here, cowboys and Indians come alive. What's more, the awe-inspiring towers, spires and buttes are as impressive in person as on the big screen. So why are some travelers disappointed? Digging deep into your wallet is the only way to get backstage. Hiking in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is restricted to Wildcat Trail, an easy 3.2-mile loop around West Mitten Butte. Vehicles are permitted on Valley Drive only, a poorly maintained 17-mile dirt road that more often than not requires a 4-wheel drive. The visitor center and picturesque points near the park entrance are regularly overrun by the tour bus crowd. Guided tours - jeep, horse and balloon - are exorbitantly priced.
Getting There
 
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is located 23 miles (37 km) north of Kayenta, Arizona and 22 miles (35 km) south of Mexican Hat, Utah. The park entrance is accessible from Highway 163. And while this often-photographed icon of the American West is part of the Grand Circle and Trail of the Ancients it is a long way from the nearest airport. The regional airports in Page, AZ (131 miles or 2.5-hour drive), Farmington, NM (160 miles or 3 hours), Flagstaff, AZ (181 miles or 3.5 hours) and Grand Junction, CO (267 miles or 4.5 hours) are the closest. Phoenix, AZ is 326 miles (5.5 hours) from Monument Valley, Salt Lake City is 389 miles (6.5 hours) away and Las Vegas is 433 miles (7 hours) distant.
Getting Around
 
This Navajo Tribal Park may be 91,696 acres in size but only one road and one trail are open to the general public and off-track travel is prohibited. Valley Drive, a poorly maintained 17-mile dirt road, is difficult to navigate after a hard rain. Wildcat Trail, an easy 3.2-mile loop around West Mitten Butte, is the park's one marked hiking trail. Families keen to see more, inside the park or in adjacent areas such as Mystery Valley and Hunt's Mesa, have little choice but hire a guide. Be sure to shop around; many Monument Valley tours offer little but ask lots. What's more, few outfitters operate from inside the park. Do your research before you arrive. Select a tour that will engage the kids and take you off the beaten track.
When to Travel
 
Monument Valley has a four-season climate and two-season days. Summer days are hot and often exceed 90°F (32°C). Summer nights are a cool 70°F (21°C). Winter highs are in the mid-40s (7°C) but winter lows are well below freezing. Expect precipitation - rain and snow - from September through January.
Health & Safety
 
The climate in Monument Valley is high desert and the park sits at 5,564 feet or 1,696 meters. Wear sunscreen, hat and proper footwear. Carry plenty of water (4 liters per person per day in summer). Plan your visit for the early morning or late afternoon; avoid touring the park in the peak heat hours from 11:00 to 16:00. Take the necessary precaution in summer storms; they come up quickly in this part of the world.
  • Outdoor Safety Tips
Hours & Seasons
 
Valley Drive is open 6:00 - 20:30 from May through September and 8:00 - 16:30 from October through April. The Visitor Center is open 6:00 - 20:00 from May through September and 7:00 - 19:00 from October through April. The Visitor Center is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Admission & Fees
 
An entrance fee is charged to all visitors. Children aged 9 and under are free of charge. Camping and guided tours are charged separately.
Contact Details
 
For additional information dial +1 (435) 727 5870.
Things to Keep in Mind
 
The visitor center has a restaurant, souvenir shop and small convenience store. Mitten View Campground is located near the visitor center. Navajo Jewelry Mall, a strip of wood-framed concessions, is located on Highway 163, just south of the park entrance. Goulding boasts a gas station, laundromat, two hotels and two restaurants.
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