Monument Valley best enjoyed on guided Navajo tours
One of the most scenic places in the world is practically on our doorstep – Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Located on the border of Utah and Arizona, the park has mounds, mesas, spiers, pinnacles, and arches, arranged in some of the most beautiful panoramic views on Earth.
You’ve undoubtedly seen the photographs or movie scenes that were shot here, but seeing the place firsthand is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, well worth the six or seven hour drive.
The park was established in 1958 and spans 91,696 acres, all located within the 16 million acre Navajo reservation. The Diné, as the Navajo refer to themselves, have inhabited this region for over 400 years. Before that, the ancestral Puebloans lived here.
You can get some classic views just by driving around the area or taking in some popular viewpoints, but most of the real treasures are off limits to visitors traveling alone. The best way to experience the place is to take a tour with a licensed Navajo guide. These jeep tours are of varying lengths of time, and if you have the time, I highly recommend taking a day trip.
The guides are extremely knowledgeable and not only inform you about the historical and cultural importance of the area, but will also take you to archaeological and filming sites and the most amazing rock formations. There are also plenty of photo opportunities to get out of the vehicle and see the sights up close.
Monument Valley is the backdrop of choice for Hollywood television and movies. Films that have used the park include some of John Ford’s classic westerns, such as “Stagecoach”, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” and “Fort Apache”, all starring John Wayne, and the latter starring Henry Fonda. More recent classics such as “Thelma and Louise”, “Forrest Gump” and “Back to the Future III” also used the beautiful backdrop.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is open year-round. At the visitor center, the elevation is approximately 5,200 feet. The average daily maximum temperatures in August are around 91 degrees and in September 83 degrees.
Due to concerns about COVID-19, the Navajo Nation is currently operating in “yellow status,” which means Navajo Parks and Recreation is open at 50% of maximum occupancy. Masks are compulsory throughout the park. Always book your stay and guide before arriving at the park, as they fill up quickly. For a list of approved Navajo tour guides and more information, contact https://navajonationparks.org/, or 435-727-58740. For more information on accommodation, visit or www.gouldings.com.