Monument Valley: immersion in Navajo territory

We continue our road on the Colorado plateau: we are now at the border between Utah and Arizona ! Don't be surprised, it looks like a western landscape... And for good reason !

Known for its immense Mesas (red stone peaks that can measure several hundred metres in height), the Monument Valley has been used as a setting for many films, starting with those of John Ford and Sergio Leone... Enough to make us dream!

Today it belongs to the Navajos, who call it "the valley of rocks".

Watch the first part of our trip on video!

Navajo territory... What does that mean?

You are probably familiar with the principle of Indian reservations: these are territories which - according to specific agreements between the American state and the Indian nations after long conflicts - belong to these peoples who live there according to their own laws.

So don't be surprised if you have an hour's difference between the Navajo Nation and the rest of the state in which it is located, whatever that may be. The Navajo Nation spans four states: Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico (Four Corners region).

The Navajos live mainly from tourism in this region, which they manage independently. The annual pass for the Utah parks does not work there, for example. On your way, you will come across many street vendors from whom you can buy local crafts (Indian jewellery, stone sculptures from the valley, dream catchers...). A dive into another world!

How to get there?

From Moab, it's a 2.5 hour drive to the park entrance. What next? It's very simple, the visit of the park is only possible by car... Or by horse! The Scenic Drive criss-crosses the valley and gives you access to views that you won't see anywhere else...

If you don't have a car or if it is not high enough(the track is very uneven!), Navajo guides offer half-day tours in the park in one of their 4×4 (list of tour operators available here). Some sites are reserved for these tour operators, in case the 3 hours of visit of the park by your own means are not enough for you...

Why go there?

For the uniqueness of the site... Need I say more? The inimitable landscapes of this corner of the desert are worth the diversions: an essential step according to us!

Not to be missed

Let's keep it simple, we recommend you start at the beginning. At the Visitor Center, you will have access from the terrace to one of the most beautiful (and most emblematic) views of the park. You can even eat or have a coffee there to enjoy the landscape, where the three buttes that will remind you of the best Lucky Luke albums are lined up: West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte and Merrick Butte (see the main photo of the article).

Take the track and stop at John Ford's Point, where you can see Camel Butte, Elephant Butte and, if you turn around, the Three Sisters, three rocky peaks that seem to be standing miraculously... 

Before leaving the park, go to the heart of the valley, to Artist's point. The name speaks for itself: the view deserves to be painted, 1000 times! You could spend hours looking at it... A real favourite!

Where to eat, where to sleep?

The advantage is that in the region you don't have much... So kill two birds with one stone!

We highly recommend the Mexican Hat Lodge! A 20 minute drive from Monument Valley, you can spend a (very) quiet night in this isolated village while enjoying an exceptional steak cooked on a grill... that swings over the fire. It surprised us too, but in the end it works: quality meat and ideal cooking! Add a cold Moab beer (see our previous article on Arches and Canyonlands) and you'll have a great evening, with local colours!

While you're there, take the opportunity to fill up at the village gas station! They are rare in the area and you will need them if you plan to visit Monument Valley during the day...

Some useful information in a wheelchair...

No matter where you are, Monument Valley can be visited by car anyway, so it is 'accessible' in the broadest sense.

Most of the viewpoints have a car park: you won't find any tarmac, but you shouldn't have any trouble getting out of the car on the relatively flat gravel ground. 

For more details, find accessibility information about our hotel, bars/restaurants and sites visited on jaccede.com!

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