Even if you don’t know it by name, you definitely know it by sight. Monument Valley has been featured in so many movies, TV shows, music videos, and commercials, it’s become one of the most iconic and recognizable landscapes in the American Southwest. So we don’t blame you one bit for wanting to include it in your Northern Arizona/Southern Utah vacation itinerary! Unfortunately, that might fall into the category of “easier said than done” if your vacation is just around the corner.
Monument Valley is a Native American Tribal Park located on the border of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, in the Navajo Indian Reservation. It’s one of the most sparsely populated regions in the Four Corners area, and as such, hotels are few and far between as well. In the immediate vicinity of the Monument Valley Tribal Park, you’ll find the historic Goulding’s Lodge and The View Hotel, built in the early 2000’s. The nearby communities of Kayenta, AZ, Tuba City, AZ, Bluff, UT, and Mexican Hat, UT, have a handful of motels, campgrounds, and AirB&B type properties, but even when you factor those in, that doesn’t add up to a whole lot of rooms. Therefore, it’s not unusual to find lodging in this beautiful area booked several months in advance. If you’re finding that to be the case when you want to visit, no need to cross it off your “bucket list.” Monument Valley can easily be visited as a day trip from Page, Arizona!
Monument Valley is a 2-2.5 hour drive, one way, from Page, Arizona. Simply proceed South on Coppermine Road, then turn left on Highway 98 East, past Antelope Canyon. Another option is to visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, head back North on US89 as if you were returning to Page, but instead turn right on Highway 98 (just in front of the “Welcome to Page” sign). Proceed Southeast on Highway 98 for approximately 65 miles until you hit US160 near the town of Shonto, AZ. Turn left on US160 and head East for approximately 45 miles. In the town of Kayenta, AZ, you’ll then turn left on US163 and head North for about 25 miles until you reach Monument Valley!
At the Visitors Center, you’ll pay your Monument Valley Tribal Park Entrance Fee:
Per Vehicle Pass: $20 per non-commercial vehicle up to 4 people ($6 each additional passenger)
Per Individual Pass: $10 per walk-in, bicycle, or motorcycle
Commercial Pass: (based on capacity of vehicle)
1-4 Passengers: $35 (additional $6 each)
5-15 Passengers: $100
15-25 Passengers: $125
26+ Passengers: $300
This entitles you to drive the 17-mile Monument Valley Tribal Park Loop. This remote but stunning dirt road will take you past world-famous vistas such as:
John Ford’s Point
The Three Sisters
Totem Pole and Ye’i Bi Chei
While this road is usually driveable in standard 2WD passenger cars, it may be rendered impassable in inclement weather. Those in rental cars should be aware that this technically constitutes off-road driving, which will void your insurance the minute your tires part ways with pavement. For this reason, you may wish to play it safe and book a Navajo-guided tour of not only the Monument Valley loop drive, but areas of the backcountry that are only accessible with an authorized escort!
Guided tours of Monument Valley vary in length and mode of travel, from horseback, jeep, and hiking tours lasting just a couple of hours, to all-inclusive overnight camping tours conducted in customized 4WD vehicles. Doing a little research ahead of time and making an advance booking are recommended so you can enjoy an experience that’s appropriate for your family’s physical fitness level and interests, and allow you to begin the return drive to Page, AZ, well before sunset.
At some point, you’ll probably want/need to grab lunch. Kayenta, AZ, offers the most numerous choices of both chain and independent restaurants. The local Burger King has a fascinating on-site museum commemorating the contributions of the Navajo Code Talkers to the Allied Forces victory over the Japanese in World War II. It’s definitely worth a stop even if you pass on a Whopper. If you’re doing a day trip to Monument Valley, especially on one of the shorter days of the year, you may wish to pack a picnic or sack lunch the night prior so you can spend your limited number of daylight hours sightseeing instead of searching for a place to eat.
That brings us to the point of timing. In order to make a day trip from Page, AZ, to Monument Valley work, you must be aware of a couple of important things: during Daylight Saving Time, the Navajo Reservation will be one hour ahead of Page, AZ, since Page remains on Mountain Standard Time year-round. You must factor this in when making tour reservations in Monument Valley. Another consideration is that nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. This is due to the fact that roads are very dimly lit on the Navajo Reservation, and animals such as deer, elk, free range cattle, feral horses, sheep, and goats may be wandering about, which can be very disconcerting and dangerous. You should ensure that if you take a guided tour, that it will end at least 2 hours before sunset on Page, AZ, time, which will be one hour behind Navajo Reservation time during the months when Daylight Savings Time is in effect. If you’re visiting during the winter (Standard Time) months, the Navajo Reservation is on the same time as Page. Check Sunrise & Sunset Times Monument Valley, UT
If the prospect of self-driving on a day trip to Monument Valley doesn’t appeal, you’ll be glad to know that several Page, AZ, tour companies offer guided excursions that can get you there in safety and comfort. These include, but are not limited to: