Monument Valley: The American West
Posted in: Nature, Nearly Nearby Attractions, Outdoor adventures on January 19, 2022.
Welcome to the West…
If you’ve ever watched a western, you’ve probably seen a sweeping wide shot of some lonely sandstone monoliths rising from the desert and scraping the sky. And most likely, you’ve seen a shot of Monument Valley. This location has become the de facto symbol for the American West – at least in film and television – featured in classics like Stagecoach, The Searchers, Once Upon a Time in the West, and lots and lots of others. If you want confirmation, check out Monument Valley’s IMDb page.
Considering that Monument Valley basically is the American West in millions of peoples’ minds, it’s no wonder that it is a popular place to visit. So if you want to star in your own western, here’s what to do when you make the journey to Monument Valley. (And here’s Monument Valley marked on Google Maps, so you don’t have to search too hard for it.)
What To See When You Visit: Scenic Loop
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is located on the Arizona-Utah. The most famous monoliths in the park are the West and East Mitten Buttes. These lie just south of the border line, in Arizona. And while you can see these buttes from the visitors center – which should definitely be your first stop – to get a good look at them, we suggest you drive the Monument Valley scenic route. The scenic drive is a 17-mile loop which will take you past some of the best geological features in the park. There is a small fee of $20 to access the route. You can purchase tickets here.
Please be aware that a the time of this writing, there are restrictions to the number of people allowed on Navajo Tribal Land – currently 50% of normal operating capacity. So it pays to purchase your tickets far in advance. There are other COVID restrictions too. Please see the official site for more information.
What To See When You Visit: Antelope Canyon & Hiking
After you’ve driven the scenic loop, you will probably want to go hiking in this striking land. All of the official hikes in Monument Valley require a tribal guide. So you’ll need to schedule a hiking time via the official website. (We can’t stress this enough. Guides are mandatory. You will be in a lot of trouble if you attempt to hike alone.) In our opinion the best hike in the area is Antelope Canyon. It’s one of the most famous, most beautiful slot canyons in the American Southwest. Schedule a guide here. You will love it.
After you’ve seen Monument Valley, the quintessential representation of the American West, you’ll probably want to visit some of the nearby attractions. You’ve driven all the way into the desert, after all. You should see what’s nearby.
Four Corners Monument Navajo Tribal Park is close, and it’s the only place in the United States where you can be in four states at once. Straddle the borders of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and, of course, Utah. There is a small fee of $5 to enter the park.
Or head to Natural Bridges National Monument by way of Mexican Hat and the Valley of the Gods. We can safely say that you won’t forget this amazing drive. Natural Bridges is a collection of three of the best and longest natural arches in the world.