Treasures of the Navajo Nation: Monument Valley
Welcome to the first article of our new “Treasures of Navajo Nation” series! Our first article, we are excited to cover everything about Monument Valley. Before we jump in, we would like to preface this article with the most current update regarding Covid and the Navajo Nation. As of May 10, 2021, most Tribal parks remain closed as a precaution to protect the Navajo Nation against Covid-19. We hope you enjoy this article and its information on Monument Valley but will respect the current closures. We hope to help the Navajo Nation spread the word when their parks do start to open up again. If you have questions or concerns about this, please visit the Navajo Nation’s Re-Opening website.
About Monument Valley
Monument Valley Utah leaves little to the imagination. What you see is what you get, but we don’t see anyone complaining! With red sandstone towers, arches, and rock formations, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported to another world. In fact, this is one of the best places to experience Navajo culture at its finest. Monument Valley is known for its remoteness and rugged views. There are many ways to explore everything the tribal park has to offer including hiking, horseback riding, jeep tours, and photography tours when the park reopens. We have included several trusted tours below. Before visiting or planning your trip, make sure to check local conditions and park closures.
Navajo Name: Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii
Elevation: 5,564 feet above sea level
Size: 91,696 acres (spans Utah & Arizona)
From a geographic perspective, Monument Valley used to be a lowland basin way in the beginning before it became the Colorado Plateau. After hundreds of millions of years of erosion from natural forces of wind and water, layers of soft dirt were slowly peeling down, effectively altering layers of the soft and hard rock. This erosion slowly revealed the natural wonders of Monument Valley that we know and love today.
From the visitor center, you can expect to see the infamous view of the Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte. You can also purchase guided tours from Navajo tour operators, who take you down into the valley in Jeeps for a narrated cruise through these mythical formations. During the summer months, the visitor center also features Haskenneini Restaurant, which specializes in both native Navajo and American cuisines, and a film/snack/souvenir shop. There are year-round restroom facilities. One mile before the center, numerous Navajo vendors sell arts, crafts, native food, and souvenirs at roadside stands.
Monument Valley Highlights
Tribal Park Loop
A 17-mile loop that you can drive through yourself. It doesn’t require an offroad vehicle, but it is bumpy, dusty, and slow going! This loop will take you by all the main sites of Monument Valley including but not limited to the iconic Mittens and John Ford’s Point. This is the only self-drive loop that is available without a guide. Any other roads beyond this loop require a guide like the ones mentioned below.
Three Sisters: Resembles a Catholic nun facing her two pupils.
Forest Gump Point
The Wildcat Trail is a 3.2-mile loop hike giving you all the best features of Monument Valley. This trail allows hikers to feel like they are a part of the land. You can expect to travel around some of the most iconic rock buttes in the park. The Wildcat Trail is the only self-guided trail in the park but offers some world-class scenery as it takes hikers for a walk through the world-famous Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte.
Guided tours are truly the best way to see Monument Valley. Let the people of the land show you all that it has to offer. Remember, Monument Valley is not a National Park, but a Tribal Park, meaning that it’s more than just a pretty landscape, you should allow yourself to take in everything it has to offer. Below are several tours recommended on the Discover Navajo website but you’re welcome to do additional research to find one that fits what you’d like to do.
SIMPSON’S TRAIL HANDLER TOURS
Entertainment from flute playing to Navajo singing & dancing around camp fire. Visit Monument Valley’s secluded areas on foot and climb the rocks as you follow ancient trails that hold promises of beauty up ahead. Going on a hiking tour in the Monument Valley area is an adventure that will let you experience Monument Valley in a very special, close-up way.
If you are among those who like a lot of rock climbing during their hike, your guide will take you on top of famous Mitchell Mesa or Hunt’s Mesa. The reward: spectacular panoramic views of the Valley that will leave you speechless… Let the serene beauty of Monument Valley captivate you from a bird’s-eye perspective.
Contact: Harold Simpson
P.O. Box 360-377
Monument Valley, UT 84536
ROY BLACK’S GUIDED TOURS
Provides a variety of tours: Jeep tours, horse tours, and hiking tours to places of interest in Monument Valley and Mystery Valley located south of the Park Valley itself. Lodge in a Hogan Bed & Breakfast.
Contact: Roy & Christine Black
P.O. Box 830
Kayenta, Arizona 86033
PHILLIPS’ PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS BY KEYA-HOZHONI
Offers vehicle tours, hiking tours, custom-designed tours including overnight camping and special photographic tours through Monument Valley and nearby Mystery Valley.
Contact: Carlos & Carl Phillips
P.O. Box 1695
Kayenta, Arizona 86033
MONUMENT VALLEY TOURS
(FORMERLY TOTEM POLE TOURS)
Provides commercial tours, Jeep tours, and photography tours. Provides overnight trips with dinner, entertainment and breakfast, plus cookouts. Cookouts are arranged with tours only and individuals can try Navajo Tacos or BBQ meals.
For commercial filming, one must obtain a permit from Navajo Broadcast Services obs.navajo-nsn.gov before filming.
Contact: Rosita L. Bedoni
P.O. Box 98
Kayenta, Arizona 86033
About Navajo Nation Parks & Recreations
The Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation is one of the oldest programs within the Navajo Nation Government, which was established in 1957 by the Navajo Nation Tribal Council. The Navajo Nation Reservation is over 25,000 miles and covers over four states: NM, UT, CO, and AZ. Therefore, the laws, regulations, and policies brought forth by the Navajo Nation are governed by the Navajo Nation Laws and Policies. Please be cognizant of all Navajo Nation Laws while visiting our tribal parks. NO CREMATION, NO LITTERING, NO CLIMBING, NO CAMPING, and NO DRONES inside the Navajo Tribal Parks.