When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Monument Valley is a mystical, mythical, unique and unforgettable place... You will easily imagine yourself in the heart of a great western film!
In fact, Monument Valley has served as a natural setting for many movies, some of which starred the famous John Wayne.
The site is on Navajo Nation land.
MONUMENT VALLEY SCENIC DRIVE
Monument Valley Scenic Drive leads straight through the heart of the legendary buttes, spires and mesas of Monument Valley. If you have pictured yourself on a western USA tour, you probably had this famous road in mind.
Upon arrival, you will need to pay the Monument Valley Tribal Park entry fee ($20/vehicle with up to 4 passengers or $10/person. Free for children aged 9 and under).
Then it is a good idea to stop by the Visitor Center to get brochures and maps of the site. You will also be able to buy souvenirs such as native crafts and even eat on site (note that after 7 p.m. local time, the restaurant is reserved for hotel guests only).
The 27-kilometre Monument Valley Scenic Drive is unpaved and is not recommended for all types of vehicles. You will need a larger car or 4X4 vehicle; small or low-riding vehicles may be damaged as the road is very bumpy. Note that you will need to purchase a permit at the Visitor Center if you want to make the journey in your own vehicle.
If you can't do the self-guided tour, you have a few options: you can either book a place on a tour organized by one of the local companies, or you can negotiate a private tour with a Navajo guide in a 4X4, on foot or on horseback. There are guide booths in the parking lot.
The most famous viewpoint is John Ford's Point , named in honour of American film director John Ford (1920 to 1960) who shot many films in the area. There are many other interesting viewpoints as well, such as Three Sisters , Camel Butte and Elephant Butte , to name just a few.
In the evening around sunset , the valley is bathed in beautiful shades of red: the sight is stunning and unforgettable! A great place to watch the sunset is from the Visitor Center. Photographers take note!
The Visitor Center is open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. from May 1 until September 30, and daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October 1 until April 30. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November), Christmas Day and January 1.
Monument Valley Scenic Drive is accessible daily from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from May 1 until September 30, and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from October 1 until April 30.
Don't forget to change your watch!
The Navajo nation and the State of Utah are on Daylight Savings Time from the 2nd Sunday in March until the 1st Saturday in November.
As a result, Monument Valley is an hour later than the rest of Arizona during these 6 months of the year.
HOW ABOUT A TOUR WITH A NAVAJO GUIDE?
In the Visitor Center parking lot, you will find a small wooden cabin where Navajo guides are waiting to take visitors on exclusive tours.
Starting prices can be quite high. Don't hesitate to negotiate the price; give them the impression that you're not that interested and they may lower the prices significantly. Good negotiators will manage to find a private tour to John Ford's Point for 4 to 5 people for $100.
As members of Native American communities tend to be discreet and reserved, don't hesitate to ask questions and take an interest in what they have to say. They will be more than happy to tell you more about their beautiful territory.
BLUFF FORT HISTORIC SITE
Learn all about the lives of seventy Mormon families who left the community of Escalante, Utah to settle in Bluff in the 1880s, the reasons for their journey, and the harsh conditions they faced. You will be able to walk around Fort Bluff, which was rebuilt and restored through the efforts of a local organization, the Hole in the Rock Foundation.
At Bluff Fort you will have the opportunity to learn more about these remarkable pioneers, their amazing engineering and their life in the desert. You can watch an informative short film, see a fully loaded wagon, tour inside reconstructed log cabins, see photos of the early residents, enter an authentic Navajo hogan (traditional house), dress in traditional pioneer clothing and even buy some souvenirs at the gift shop.
Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November) and from December 22 to January 2.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
IN MONUMENT VALLEY
THE VIEW RESTAURANT / THE VIEW HOTEL ($$-$$$)
As the name implies, the best thing about this restaurant is the breathtaking view of Monument Valley. The food is fine, but it will probably not be your best meal in the American southwest.
Serves breakfast (7 a.m. to 11 a.m.), lunch (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dinner (after 5 p.m.). Your best option is probably the Navajo inspired dishes. It is important to note that after 7 p.m., the restaurant is reserved for hotel guests only.
GOULDING’S STAGECOACH DINING ROOM / GOULDING’S LODGE ($$-$$$)
Here is another good place to eat while enjoying an exceptional panoramic view of Monument Valley. You will be served by locals, and have the chance to try authentic Southwestern and native Navajo cuisine in a historic setting.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Amigo Cafe ($)
The history of Amigo Cafe began in 1983, when Richard and Esther Martinez realized their dream of sharing their family's traditional Mexican recipes by opening their own restaurant. Everything here is prepared by hand, with quality ingredients. In 1999, the Price family took over the restaurant and they have remained true to the Martinez family traditions. You will enjoy Burritos, Tacos, Enchiladas, Tostadas, and much more.
Open Monday-Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Wednesday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
IN MEXICAN HAT
THE SWINGIN STEAK / MEXICAN HAT LODGE ($$-$$$)
The Swingin Steak is certainly aptly named. The restaurant's specialty is, unsurprisingly, steak, but prepared in a unique way: your steak or burger is grilled over an open cedar wood fire on a swinging grill. The result is juicy meat, seasoned and grilled to perfection, served “cowboy” style with a side of pinto beans, salad and garlic-buttered Texas toast.
Open evenings from March-October, weather permitting.
*** Hours may vary ***
- Very Favourable