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Things to do in Monument Valley

Things to do in  Monument Valley

Welcome to Monument Valley

From classic Western flicks to Marlboro ads to license plates, America’s desert Southwest has no greater icon than Monument Valley. Hugging the Arizona-Utah border on Navajo land, most roadtrippers buzz down the looping, 17-mile (27-kilometer) Valley Drive through Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, stopping at viewpoints such as John Ford’s Point to snap photos of the famous formations—”The Mittens” are a favorite. To get a deeper appreciation for the land, hike the 3.2-mile (5-kilometer) Wildcat Trail on your own, or take a guided hike or tour to parts unknown.

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All about Monument Valley

When to visit

If you can visit Monument Valley in winter, do. The crowds thin—as do the prices at The View Hotel—and a light layer of snow makes the rocky sea of orange and crimson absolutely pop. Temperatures rarely drop below 25ºF (-4ºC). Otherwise, spring and fall offer excellent weather before and after the summer vacationers hit the road. And sunrise makes for a magical, technicolor experience in the valley.

Getting around

Private vehicles—$20 per vehicle—are welcome to the visitor center at the main viewpoint. From there, 25 cars at a time are permitted on the 17-mile Tribal Valley Loop. Nab a free permit at your arrival, or hop on a Monument Valley guided tour (it might be quicker, depending on the crowds). If you take the scenic drive, do so in a high-clearance vehicle for the red-rock road, and leave some time to explore on the Wildcat Trail on foot.

Traveler tips

The area’s Navajo name is Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii. If you have the time, a much deeper experience can be had on a Navajo-led tour to see the best of the red rocks landscape. You’ll go off the scenic drive, see Monument Valley landforms such as Teardrop Arch, spot Anasazi petroglyphs, and hear how the Navajo continue to thrive on this land today.

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