The complete guide to visiting Monument Valley

Monument Valley nov 2020-02559

Monument Valley is one of the top outdoor attractions in the US. The iconic sandstone buttes and mesas found here have been featured in many movies and attract visitors for their singular magnificence.

Imagine you are walking on an orange planet surrounded by towers and hills of different shapes. This is the kind of experience you’ll have while visiting Monument Valley Tribal Park.

If you’re planning to visit this unique destination soon, this post has all you need to visit Monument Valley, including the location of the iconic Forrest Gump spot.

This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Monument Valley at a glance

Contrary to what most think, Monument Valley isn’t a US National Park. It’s located in the semi-autonomous Navajo Nation Reservation, the largest Native American territory in the country. The destination impresses not only for its majestic features but also for its size – it’s bigger than the city of Portland, Oregon.

Visitors have access to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, and the region borders the states of Utah and Arizona.

Also, Monument Valley is famous for being featured in various movies, such as Mission Impossible 2 and Forrest Gump.

Monument Valley Viewpoint

Where is Monument Valley

Monument Valley is in the Navajo Nation Reservation, on the border of the states of Utah and Arizona.

You can visit the park from both states and find the state line right before the visitor center.

How to get to Monument Valley

Because of its location, you can reach the park from different states, such as Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico.

Here are the main distances to get to Monument Valley:

  • Arizona:  180 miles from the Grand Canyon (South Rim), 125 miles from Page, and 320 miles from Phoenix;
  • Utah: 380 miles from Salt Lake City, 150 miles from Moab, and 240 miles from Zion National Park;
  • Nevada: 400 miles from Las Vegas;
  • New Mexico: 320 miles from Albuquerque;
  • Colorado: 500 miles from Denver;
  • California: 640 miles from Los Angeles.
Forrest Gump Point Monument Valley

The best way to get to Monument Valley and explore the park is by car. You’ll want to have the flexibility to come and go as you please, especially if you’re on a Southwest road trip.

If you don’t want to drive, some tours will take you to the park from major cities in Arizona and Utah.

Best hotels near Monument Valley

You can visit Monument Valley on a day trip. However, to explore the park, it’s a good idea to spend at least one night in the region. This way, you can catch an epic sunrise and a memorable sunset.

Fortunately, if you decide to spend one night in here, there are some excellent options of places to stay nearby.

These two are the best hotels near Monument Valley:

  • The View Hotel – is an excellent choice with cabins, suites, and RV camping. The View Hotel is the only hotel inside the Monument Valley Tribal Park itself. Apart from this one, you’ll find hotels close, but outside of the park, nonetheless.
  • Goulding’s Lodge – is an excellent option because it offers great views of the Monument Valley Tribal Park and the surroundings. It’s where I stayed when I visited the park.
Gouldings Lodge Monument Valley

Entrance fee and operating hours

The entry fee to Monument Valley is US$ 8 per person per day, and you can purchase it online.

Additionally, to visit other parts of the park that need a Navajo guide, you’ll have to pay for the guided tours, which range between US$ 50 and US$ 200.

The park’s operating hours vary throughout the year, and it’s good to check Monument Valley’s website before planning your trip.

  • Summer hours (from March to August): 6.30 am to 7.30 pm.
  • Scenic Drive Hours: 6.30 am to 5 pm
  • Tour Booth Hours: 6.30 am to 7.30 pm
  • Winter Hours (from November to January): 8 am to 2 pm

Best time to visit Monument Valley

Spring and fall are the best time of the year to visit Monument Valley.

During the summer, the temperatures can be high with chances of thunderstorms; and the winters can be cold with chances of snowfall.

How long should a trip to Monument Valley last

You can visit Monument Valley in one day, even for a few hours, and be able to see the highlights of the park.

However, I recommend sleeping at least one night in one of the hotels in the area, so you can see the park at different times of the day and explore the nearby attractions.

Things to do in Monument Valley

Drive through the scenic drive (Tribal Park Loop)

In Monument Valley, one of the best things to do is to drive the 17-mile scenic drive.

The loop is on an unpaved road, and it starts at the visitor center.

On the drive, you’ll be able to pass through the towering cliffs and mesas and stop to see the major features. Make sure to stop at the Mittens, John Ford’s Point, and Three Sisters.

Tribal Park Loop drive usually takes between 2 to 4 hours, depending on how many times you stop to take pictures.

Monument Valley tour with a guide

The scenic drive (Tribal Park Loop) is the only thing you can do in Monument Valley without a tour.

To visit the rest of the park, you’ll have to schedule a tour with one of the authorized companies.

These tours with Native American guides take you further deep into the park, to areas that are only accessible by tourists with them.

If you choose to stay at Goulding’s Lodge, they offer a variety of tours inside the park.

BEST TOURS IN MONUMENT VALLEY

Valley of the Gods Monument Valley

Hiking

The Wildcat Trail is the only self-guided trail in the park. It’s a 4-mile hike (round trip) that starts at the visitor center.

For other hikes, you’ll have to go with a guide.

Forrest Gump spot

Do you remember the scene at the end of the movie Forrest Gump when he finally decides to stop running?

The iconic scene was filmed in Monument Valley, and you can stand in the same spot that Gump was.

If you also want to be in this iconic place, the GPS coordinates to the Forrest Gump spot in Monument Valley are 37.101393, -109.990973.

Best tours to visit Monument Valley

Forrest Gump Point Monument Valley

Things to do around the park

Goosenecks State Park

When visiting Monument Valley, plan to visit the nearby Goosenecks State Park, one of the amazing state parks in Utah.

Here, you can see the San Juan River cutting through the canyon, creating a fascinating attraction.

Lake Powell

In case you want to be near the water, you can take some time to visit Lake Powell, the second-largest human-made lake in the United States.

At Lake Powell, there is plenty to do, including scenic drives, fishing, and renting a boat to navigate its waters.

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods is like a miniature version of Monument Valley but, in the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) area.

While driving in it, you’ll probably find yourself alone amongst the mesas and buttes with unique shapes.

Valley of the Gods Monument Valley

Utah’s National Parks

After visiting Monument Valley, you can also continue driving to the National Parks in Utah, such as Canyonlands and Arches National Park.

Where to eat near Monument Valley

You can find restaurants in both hotels – The View Hotel and Goulding’s Lodge. You may also want to drive a little bit more to get to the Amigo Café.

Near the park, you’ll also find a gas station, convenience store, and grocery – all located around Goulding’s Lodge.

From here to

If after checking out the Forrest Gump spot and driving the scenic loop in Monument Valley, you want to visit other places, or even take a road trip through the Southwest, make sure to add these spots to your itinerary:

HIKING FAVORITES

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I am Elen, and I help 9-5ers plan their next getaway. I curate travel experiences, from places to sip a coffee to stays in boutique hotels, so you can save time when planning your next vacation. Here you will find travel guides, tips, and the best itineraries for your next trip.

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