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 unequivocally, 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, well…there’s really no other way to get there. Monument Valley is 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 About Monument Valley = 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 towering monoliths of Monument Valley. Wherever you started your Monument Valley road trip, this 17-mile drive will be the pinnacle of your trip.
There are bathrooms, a restaurant, & hotel all located in the same parking lot as the Visitor’s Center, so if you want to stay overnight right in Monument Valley, it’s possible either at the hotel or one of the nearby campgrounds. More information on lodging can be found below.
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. Know that when you’re in Monument Valley, you’re on tribal land ~ so plan to take it easy on the speed! But who needs to speed when you’ve got views like this?
Monument Valley Map
Monument Valley Visitor's Center
Photos of Monument Valley Road Trip
Some of your best Monument Valley shots will be taken right on the highway, before entering the actual monument. If you’re headed south on Highway 163 from Mexican Hat or Bluff, Utah ~ you’ll encounter the views below 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 look out for cars as you get your “middle-of-the-road” shots.
Once you’ve made it to the Visitor’s Center (you’ll need to pay to enter this area), they’ll point you towards a 17-mile, dusty dirt road, where you’ll be able to drive right by all the massive, red sandstone monoliths. There are plenty of pull-outs along the 17-mile drive, & you’ll be able to take pictures virtually anywhere you want (although there’s no hiking within the actual park, unfortunately). Budget at least two to three hours for the drive.
Where to Stay Near Monument Valley
There’s only one hotel actually in Monument Valley, & it’s right next to the Visitor’s Center: the View Hotel. It’s perched on a hill overlooking the Valley, & would make a great place to stay if you want to see the monuments at sunrise or sunset. If you’d like to stay close to the Valley, but prefer to camp ~ look into Goulding’s Campground, Monument Valley Tipi Village, or Monument Valley KOA.
If you’re headed up towards Utah attractions like Bear’s Ears National Monument, Moab, Canyonlands, or Arches National Park, then head north on Highway 163 out of Monument Valley. Mexican Hat will be the first town you come to, about 26 miles north of the Valley. It’s a real tiny town, with little in the way of dining & lodging options. If you’re looking for more variety, head up to Bluff or Blanding. You’ll have more hotel choices, & there are 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.
Monument Valley Road Trip
Are you ready to hit the road & take off for a Monument Valley road trip? Or have you already been? Where did you get your best photos, & at what time of day? Let me know in the comments below!