Visiting Monument Valley // Arizona and Utah

December 30, 2019

Monument Valley has always been on my bucket list, but its remote location made me hesitant to turn this dream into reality. When planning my "Bachelorette Road Trip", I had Zion and Antelope Canyon on my itinerary but then thought, "This might be the best time to finally visit Monument Valley!" Road tripping through one of the most beautiful part of the United States with some of your favorite people, you can't beat that.

Monument Valley is located 5 hours from Phoenix and Albuquerque, 6 hours from Provo, and a little over 6 hours from Las Vegas, which is where we started and ended our road trip. We decided to make this drive on our first day to avoid the long journey at the end of our trip (when we're all tired from a week of hiking).

The drive is long but scenic. From Vegas, you'll pass through Zion National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. You can see for miles, the landscape is constantly changing, and cell reception is surprisingly okay. 

Monument Valley is spread across the Arizona/Utah border within the Navajo reservation. "Forrest Gump Hill", as it is now labeled on Google Maps, is located in Utah, while the visitor center where you can photograph the famous "mittens", is in Arizona. Both states get to share this iconic part of America. 


WHERE TO STAY IN MONUMENT VALLEY

We got lucky and found an amazing Airbnb located 10 minutes from the visitor center. I highly recommend the Dream Catcher Home if you're wanting to spend a night or two out in Monument Valley (to save $55 off your first Airbnb, click here). The house has killer views and a trampoline! And it's a great place to watch the sunrise between the buttes.

THINGS TO DO IN MONUMENT VALLEY

There are tons of tours in the Monument Valley area, but unfortunately we didn't have enough time to go on any. Viator offers a handful of different tours and excursions including a 2.5 hour guided tour which takes you off roading for about 30 miles. It would be cool to see buttes and arches that aren't visible from the main roads or viewpoints.

Monument Valley has been featured in so many famous movies like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades, Forrest Gump, and Back to the Future Part III. My only regret from the trip is not having enough time to see more of the area, though it would have been hard to venture too far off the beaten path with our minivan rental (which was clutch otherwise). 

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Whether you're coming from New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, or Nevada, Monument Valley is worth the 5-6 hour road trip. Don't let that drive scare you off. While Monument Valley isn't full of things to do, it is a great place to relax and unwind and appreciate Mother Nature at her finest. You're out in the middle of nowhere, it's the perfect place to unplug. 

It's also a great place to enjoy the stars. During our stay, we got to see the Milky Way with the naked eye! In 2017, I went to Africa hoping to photograph the Milk Way. I took my tripod across the Atlantic and to three different countries, but the Milky Way was not visible during that time of year down there. Fast forward to my "Bachelorette Road Trip", it never crossed my mind to bring my tripod on this trip. During our stay in Monument Valley, the girls and I stepped outside our Airbnb at night and boom, right above us, the Milky Way. We had to turn off all the house lights to see it brighter, but we could definitely make out the galaxy, and Saturn and Jupiter were both visible too. I didn't get any pictures, but the memory is in my head. Also, if you don't have the Sky Guide app, definitely download it before going camping or anywhere where you will see tons of stars. 

THE RUNDOWN:

Monument Valley
Visitor Center
U.S. 163 Scenic
Oljato-Monument Valley, Arizona 84536

Entrance fee is $10.00 per person (9 and under are free) or $20.00 per vehicle (up to four people). 

The visitor center is open 7 days a week but hours vary depending on the season. 

Hiking permits can be bought in the visitor center. 

There's a shop and restaurant in the visitor center. Think lots of turquoise, silver, and dream catchers. 

To get to the famous spot in the middle of the road with Monument Valley in the background, just search "Forrest Gump Hill" on Google Maps. I think the spot is a tad too far to the east but it's a great starting point. You'll see tons of other people there, you can't miss it. 

It was insanely windy while we were there, just a heads up for any photoshoots. 

Is Monument Valley on your list? Have you been? If so, did you go on any cool tours? 


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