Monument Valley Road Trip
Monument Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Having seen much of the country, & after countless road trips in the West: I can state this without reservation. If you love desert landscapes, westerns, or just long for a time when things were a little simpler ~ then a Monument Valley road trip needs to be added to your bucket list immediately…
Why road trip to Monument Valley? Because…there’s really no other way to get there. It’s about 300+ miles from any major city ~ including the nearest airports, which are in Albuquerque, New Mexico & Durango, Colorado. From there, it’s still hundreds of road tripping miles to reach Monument Valley.
The Good News About Monument Valley = It’s 300+ Miles from Civilization
The Bad News = It’s 300+ Miles from Civilization
Monument Valley is located on the border of Utah & Arizona. The Visitor’s Center is located on the Arizona side, as is the start to the 17-mile, dirt-road loop that takes you right past the valley’s towering monoliths. Wherever you started your Monument Valley road trip, this 17-mile stretch will be the pinnacle of your trip.
What’s in the Visitor’s Center?
There are bathrooms, a restaurant, & The View Hotel (Monument Valley’s only hotel) all located in the same parking lot as the Visitor’s Center. Inside the Visitor’s Center, besides restrooms, you’ll also find lots of shopping opportunities: from jewelry to local, handmade crafts such as blankets & even kachina doll-type trinkets (see photo below). If you’d like to stay overnight right in Monument Valley, book a room at the View Hotel or try one of the nearby campgrounds.
More information on lodging can be found below.
Adventure at Monument Valley
If you’re looking for adventure, it’s also possible to take back-country ATV or horseback rides through Monument Valley. Outfitters are located along the perimeter of the parking lot, & will let you know available times & pricing. We tried to book online in advance, but that was a bit difficult ~ I’d recommend just doing it in person; things are pretty informal here. Also know that when you’re in Monument Valley, you’re on tribal land ~ so plan to take it easy on the speed!
But there’s clearly little need to speed when you’ve got views like this….
Map of Monument Valley
Monument Valley Visitor's Center
Get Ready for Monument Valley…
Photos of Monument Valley Road Trip
Some of your best Monument Valley shots may be taken right off the highway, before even entering the monument. If you’re headed south on Highway 163 from Mexican Hat ~ you’ll encounter views just as you hit the border of Utah & Arizona. Be prepared to pull over & grab your camera (you’ll see many people doing the same). There are plenty of pull-outs, & the road is long & straight ~ so it’s easy to watch out for cars as you get your “middle-of-the-road” shots.
Once you’ve made it to the Visitor’s Center (you need to pay to enter this area), they’ll point you towards a 17-mile, dusty dirt road: from here, you’ll be able to drive right by all those massive, red sandstone monoliths. There are plenty of pull-outs along this drive, & you can take photos virtually anywhere you want.
Budget at least two to three hours for the drive.
Where to Stay by Monument Valley
There’s only one hotel located in Monument Valley, & it’s right next to the Visitor’s Center: the View Hotel. It’s perched on a hill overlooking the great monuments rising out of the desert floor, & is an ideal place to stay if you wish to view the area at sunrise or sunset. If you’d like to stay closeby, but prefer to camp ~ look into Goulding’s Campground, Monument Valley Tipi Village, or Monument Valley KOA.
If you’re headed up towards Utah sights like Bear’s Ears National Monument, Moab, Canyonlands, or Arches National Park: then head north on Highway 163 out of Monument Valley to find the best accommodations. Mexican Hat has little in the way of dining & lodging options, so I’d head up further towards Bluff or Blanding. There are more hotels & some fantastic restaurants ~ especially in Bluff, right off the main highway.
If you’re looking for a spot of luxury, try the Desert Rose Inn & Cabins in Bluff ~ which is definitely the nicest hotel in town.
Utah is a wonderful state to camp in ~ check out this article from Sports Fitness Advisor on the benefits of camping…
So Long, Monument Valley…
When you’re at Monument Valley, you’re fairly close to beautiful spots like Canyonlands & Arches National Parks. Learn about some great easy day hikes in Canyonlands ~ which makes for a great add-on to any Monument Valley road trip….
Read Next: Where to Stay by Canyonlands & Arches