Monument Valley might be the most iconic images of the American Southwest. If you're planning on visiting and want a logistical run down of how to make it happen, here it is. Monument Valley is located on the Arizona and Utah borders in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. There is only one main road through Monument Valley, US 163, which offers the most famous images of Monument Valley. Once you get the park itself, there is an admission fee:
Once you're in the park, you'll want to do the Valley Drive. It's basically the only road visitors can drive on without a tour guide. This road is rough but drivable without 4WD; but after a good rain fall, this road is nearly undrivable even for the most capable of vehicles. Valley Drive is 17 miles of dirt road which starts at the visitor center and heads southeast amongst the towering cliffs and mesas. It takes you past 11 numbered stops at the most scenic places, one of the most famous being Totem Pole, the 450 ft spire that is only a few meters wide. A typical journey around the loop takes at least 2 hours. Visitors are not allowed to hike away from the road closer towards any of the formations on the Valley Drive, but there are several guided tours that do take guests on hikes. Typical rates for guided tours begin around $75 for a 2 hour trip and can includes exploring ancient cave and cliff dwellings, natural arches, and even petroglyphs. This is the basic Monument Valley experience. Some visitors get their fill of this magnificent area just by driving the Valley Drive and taking picutres, other guests crave a true Southwest or Native American cultural experience. If you are the latter, it is recommended that you purchase your guided tour and lodging from one of the small Navajo ran businesses. For each visitor who has gone this route, there tends to be a unique and special story that comes out of it.
Going on a guided tour of Monument Valley is highly recommended. Because Monument Valley is on Navajo land, much of the terrain is off limits to visitors without a guide. Part of the reason for this is to preserve the ancient rock formations and the cultural hertiage of this land, but the other reason is because Monument Valley tours and lodging is a source of inccome for the Navajo who live here. It is a priviledge to experience such a spectacular place, and paying for a tour is a great way to preserve and respect this land and its people. Almost everyone who has been on a guided tour has found it very worth while. The ability to walk among the rock formations, through arches, by cliff dwellings and petroglyphs is special, second only to the stories your Navajo guides will share with you. Many of these tours are customizable or even pre-taylored to some of the most popular activities such as photography, horse trail riding or geology tours. No matter which tour you choose, it will certainly be worthwhile.
There are only a couple options for lodging in Monument Valley. There are two hotels, some cabins and several camping/RV options. The nearest town is Kayenta, which has a couple more hotels that are more familliar in brand. But booking your stay with a Navajo tour company that offers camping on their land is also an incredible experience for those who do not require any ammenties. Backcountry permits are also available for those who wish to camp at designated campsites within the park. Find and book Monument Valley hotels, camping and backcountry permits.
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