This is, without question, the most iconic drive in America. It really does represent the soul of the road trip and has been featured in media from cartoons to spaghetti Westerns and everything in between. It’s a landscape that isn’t just pretty, it’s profound, and you really get a sense for the big sky Wild West. Top off your gas and grab extra water before heading off on the drive through Navajo tribal land. Reception should be good if you stay on the main roads, but it can be fun to veer off the beaten path, too. If you do, bring a map and plot your course in advance. And, it helps to know that the buttes are larger-than-life massive, so they will take longer to drive up to than you would think!
“The classic 17-mile valley drive”
This great Navajo Nation valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet. framed by scenic clouds casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations, providing scenery that is simply spellbinding. "It’s about 16 miles from Bluff to the eastern entrance, on the right, of Valley of the Gods, a highly recommended side trip. Valley of the Gods is like a miniature version of Monument Valley without people. Its mesas and spires are formed of the same Cedar Mesa sandstone as the somewhat larger formations at Monument Valley. The 17-mile loop drive on (mostly good) dirt road is suitable for all but the most low-slung passenger vehicles in good weather. Definitely consider driving this beautiful, lonely loop—though not in a large RV and not dragging a trailer. Stay away after heavy rains. Valley of the Gods is also a very good place to camp if you are entirely self-sufficient. There are no established campgrounds and no facilities, but there are plenty of places to camp in the wild. It is incredibly quiet, and watching the moon rise here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The loop finishes on Highway 261 (paved) just south of the descent from the Moki Dugway and north of the turnoff for Goosenecks State Park. Highway 261 will take you south back to U.S. 163, but there are some things to see along Highway 261 so consider taking more side trips. To see the impressive Muley Point overlook’s expansive views, turn right on Highway 261 off the Valley of the Gods scenic drive and immediately climb the 1,000-foot graded gravel road up the Moki Dugway. (If you haven’t taken the Valley of the Gods option, turn right off U.S. 163 and head north on Highway 261 for about 9 miles to get here.) Just at the crest and right before the pavement resumes, look for the turnoff to the left. Trailers and large RVs will find the long climb to Muley Point nerve-racking, but the steep switchbacks and unbeatable scenery make this one of the most thrilling drives in the state." The area is part of the Colorado Plateau. The elevation of the valley floor ranges from 5,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level. The floor is largely siltstone of the Culter Group, or sand derived from it, deposited by the meandering rivers that carved the valley. The valley's vivid red color comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone. The darker, blue-gray rocks in the valley get their color from magnesium oxide. The buttes are clearly stratified, with three principal layers. The lowest layer is the Organ Rock Shel, the middle is de Chelly Sandstone, and the top layer is the Moenkopi Formation capped by Shinarump Conglomerate. The valley includes large stone structures including the famed Eye of the Sun.Between 1948 and 1967, the southern extent of the Monument Upwarp was mined for uranium, which occurs in scattered areas of the Shinarump Conglomerate; vanadium and copper are associated with uranium in some deposit The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size. The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley. All of this harmoniously combines to make Monument Valley a truly wondrous experience. Enjoy this beautiful land. - Read More at Visit Utah https://www.visitutah.com/places-to-go/most-visited-parks/monument-valley-tribal-park/scenic-drives Monument valley has been used as a filming location for dozens of films and TV shows, from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Transformers: Age of Extinction to the Lone Ranger and Stagecoach, plus more.
The view in the picture above is taken from a hotel called The View Hotel, situated right there at Monument Valley. Impressive views and a beautiful place - the pictures don't do it justice, it should be seen in person.
This was the number one highlight of a recent SW road trip. It is truly visually magnificent but what surprised me was how I really felt what a SACRED place it was. There is some kind of energy that surpasses just the physical beauty. I would HIGHLY recommend that anyone do a tour with a one of the local Navajo Tour Guides as they are allowed to take you on roads and places in the valley not allowed on the self-drive and can only be accessed with 4-wheel drive. You will see petroglyphs and hear important and interesting stories about everything you see. Just amazing!
Monument Valley needs to be seen. Pictures alone do not do it justice. I highly recommend taking a tour of the back country. There are very spiritual places that can only be seen with a Navajo guide. We went on a sunset tour and caught all of the horses grazing with the monument in the background. Our guide even stopped to let us mingle with the horses. It was amazing. You can travel with your own vehicle, but you only can see so much.
On Navajo land and they have the park closed due to COVID-19. You are allowed in the park if you are staying at the hotel there.
If you take your own car into the valley, watch out the guided tour buses - they drive like madmen. If you do take your own car\hire car - keep the windows shut, I'm still finding red dust everywhere. There is lots and lots to photograph and view, but you'll never really be alone to enjoy the sights in the tranquillity they deserve.
I can't believe this place isn't a National Monument or some kind of protected area. Thankfully, it is remote, remains beautiful, and awe inspiring to take in.
I'm sure it can be rather crowded during the spring and fall when temperatures are more comfortable, but I went in late December, and the silence, vast openness, and serenity was a very spiritual experience.
Monument Valley is spectacular! It is just so impressive. Standing on the terrace at The View Hotel, looking over 'The Mittens' is seriously one of the coolest places I've ever been. The cars driving below on the dirt road look like little Matchbox cars. If you are just passing through really quickly, it is worth the quick detour to stop and see this view. Take it all in and enjoy the beautiful views from the hotel (free). If you have time though, spend a few dollars to enter the park and a couple of hours driving along the 17 mile (I think) drive that will take you up close and personal to many of the amazing formations along the way. Though it is a bit 'bumpy', it is worth the time. My kids thought it was hilarious and even attempted to videotape our drive while we bumped along the dirt road. A definite must-see if you are in the area.
Truly amazing geology! The ride through the park was fun, but the best view was really from the observation deck at the beginning. It is so huge and expansive...truly magnificent!
Very cool. We came here to see the spot where they filmed Forest Gump, we found the spot and reenacted the scene, way cool!
I agree that it must be seen in person. There is too much to look at and photograph at the same time so the previous comment is correct about pictures not doing it justice.
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