LAST UPDATED: 4/29/23 – Monument Valley Guide
If Monument Valley looks familiar to you, there is a very good reason for that. It is one of the most used locations for media of all formats. Over the decades there have been dozens-and-dozens of movies that were filmed among Monument Valley’s beautiful buttes and mesas. These movies include such blockbusters as the list of films I have included in my Monument Valley guide below:
Popular Films Featuring Monument Valley
- Stagecoach (1939)
- The Eiger Sanction (1975)
- National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
- Back to the Future Part III (1990)
- Mission Impossible II (2000)
- Windtalkers (2002)
- The Lone Ranger (2013)
- The Lego Movie (2014)
- Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
In addition to being a popular movie filming location, Monument Valley has also been used quite a bit by the music industry over the years. This includes the following list in my Monument Valley guide below:
Monument Valley in the Music Industry
- The Eagles used Monument Valley on the cover of their 1985 UK Best Of Album.
- On the cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Album Twenty.
- Part of the music video for Metallica’s “I Disappear” was filmed in Monument Valley.
- Part of the music video for Panic! at the Disco’s “Hallelujah (Panic! at the Disco song)” was filmed in Monument Valley.
One of my favorite uses of Monument Valley in film has to be in the movie Forrest Gump. Do you recall the scene where Forrest Gump is running across the country, and after gaining a large group of followers, decides it is time to stop? Well, that absolutely gorgeous scenery in the background is Monument Valley. In case you don’t recall the scene, I have included a short clip in my Monument Valley guide below that might jog your memory.
In fact, that scene in Forrest Gump garnered so much attention because of the beauty of Monument Valley that the viewpoint location was actually added to Google Maps. Try and Google it and see for yourself.
Because of its incredible beauty and iconic role in the film and music industry, Monument Valley has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the American Southwest. The vistas are absolutely breathtaking, but navigating the area can be quite difficult because of the gravel roads. However, with the help of my Monument Valley guide, you will know exactly where to go and what you will need to get there.
In some locations, these roads are really rough. So please, make sure you have the proper vehicle if you plan on doing a lot of exploring within Monument Valley. And of course, always make sure you bring enough water.
How to Get to Monument Valley
Monument Valley is located on both sides of the Utah and Arizona border, with the most popular parts of the monument located in Arizona. To give you a sense of where Monument Valley is located in reference to national parks, other public lands, and large cities in the area, I have put together the table in my Monument Valley guide below for your reference.
Driving Distance and Time from Other Areas of Interest
|City||Driving Distance||Driving Time|
|Las Vegas, NV||408 miles||6 hrs 30 min|
|Flagstaff, AZ||186 miles||3 hrs 15 min|
|Phoenix, AZ||396 miles||6 hrs 30 min|
|Moab, UT||160 miles||3 hrs|
|Albuquerque, NM||331 miles||5 hrs 30 min|
|Corona Arch||177 miles||4 hrs|
|Escalante, UT||275 miles||5 hrs 30 min|
|Bryce Canyon NP||286 miles||5 hrs|
|Arches NP||173 miles||3 hrs 15 min|
|Canyonlands NP||152 miles||3 hrs|
|Capitol Reef NP||212 miles||4 hrs 15 min|
|Leprechaun Canyon||136 miles||3 hrs|
|Page, AZ||136 miles||2 hrs 20 min|
|Antelope Canyon||129 miles||2 hrs 15 min|
|Horseshoe Bend||138 miles||2 hrs 30 min|
|Waterhole Canyon||140 miles||2 hrs 30 min|
Whether you are coming from the North or the South, you will use highway 163 to get to Monument Valley, as the highway runs right thru the valley. If you are coming from the North, the Forrest Gump Point is located just outside of the town of Halchita.
If you are interested in checking out John Ford Point, which is another popular viewpoint for Monument Valley, you will need to take Main Monument Valley Rd and Indian Rte. 42 about 10 miles South. For more detailed instructions on how to get to the valley, please review the Monument Valley directions map that I have included in my Monument Valley guide below.
As I mentioned previously, one thing you need to be aware of when visiting Monument Valley is the conditions of the roads. The roads to and from Monument Valley are paved, but once you pass the visitor’s center the roads are all gravel. In some places, these roads can be quite rough. This can be especially true after the area gets some rain.
Within the Park, the Wildcat Trail is a really nice trail that allows you to get a little more up-close-and-personal with the valley. If you do decide to do some hiking, please make sure you practice proper trail etiquette and leave no trace of your visit. It is our responsibility to future generations to preserve these beautiful places as they are. For more information on navigating within Monument Valley, please review the Monument Valley map that I have included in my Monument Valley guide below.
Best Time to Visit Monument Valley
Monument Valley is accessible year round, but depending on your tolerance for really hot weather, some months might be more uncomfortable than others. During the Summer months of June thru September, temperatures can be very hot. The months of July thru October see the highest levels of precipitation throughout the year as well.
In my opinion, the best months to visit Monument Valley are the Spring months of April and May. During these months the weather is much more moderate and the levels of precipitation are rather low.
In addition, you will also miss most of the crowds that tend to build throughout the summer months. For more information on the weather at Monument Valley throughout the year, please refer to the charts that I have included in my Monument Valley guide below.
Average Temperature (°F)
The climate in Southern Utah is unique because most of the area is located on a high desert plateau. In fact, other areas of Southern Utah, like Cedar Breaks National Monument on the Western side of the state, are at over 10,000-feet (3,048-meters) of elevation.
While Monument Valley isn’t that high, it is still at 7,096-feet of elevation. To put that into perspective, the city of Denver (known as the Mile-High City) is only at 5,287-feet of elevation. This means, despite being desert landscape, the temperatures around Monument Valley are typically much colder in the winter months.
For instance, during the summer months of June thru August, the high temperatures can reach 100’s Fahrenheit. During the winter months of December thru February, it isn’t uncommon to have low temperatures below freezing.
So, if you are planning your trip to Monument Valley, you will want to review the temperature chart in my Monument Valley guide below to know what type of temperatures to expect when you visit.
Average Precipitation (Inches)
While understanding the average temperatures in the area is important when planning your trip to Monument Valley, it is even more important to understand the average precipitation levels.
If the area gets a lot of rain, the unimproved roads in Monument Valley become very difficult (more so than they already are) to drive on. Not to mention, if you plan on spending any time exploring the slot canyons that are nearby, flash flooding becomes a real danger in these canyons.
For that reason, I would strongly recommend avoiding the late summer and early autumn months of July thru October if you want to have the best chance of avoiding the rain. Instead, I would target the early spring months of April and May.
Where to Stay Near Monument Valley
When visiting the national parks, monuments, and other areas of interest in the United States, it is a really neat experience to camp out during your visit. Some of the best campgrounds in America can be found inside the country’s national parks, monuments, recreation areas and the surrounding areas.
This is especially true of the area surrounding Monument Valley. The extra dark skies in the surrounding area make it a great place to star gaze. If you are interested in camping out during your visit, I have included a map and list of some recommended campgrounds for you to review in my Monument Valley guide below.
|Goulding’s Resort Rv & Campground|
|Monument Valley Tipi Village|
|Sleeping Bear Campground|
|Monument Valley KOA Journey|
|Rent A Tent Monument Valley|
|The View Campground|
If camping is not your speed, you need not worry as there are a variety of good hotels for you to choose from in the area as well. In fact, there are three nearby cities that have a number of reasonably priced hotel options for you to choose from.
You will find hotels and motels at various price points in the city of Kayenta to the South and the cities of Mexican Hat and Bluff to the North of Monument Valley.
If you are in the process of planning your trip to see the Monument Valley area, then you are in luck. I have included a map and list of recommended hotels at different price points for you to review in my Monument Valley guide below.
Other Things to See in the Area
In addition to the beauty of Monument Valley, there is a wealth of other incredible things for you to see in the Southern Utah and Northern Arizona area. In particular, there are a number of national parks, slot canyons, and viewpoints that I would recommend checking out in the Moab, Utah and Page, Arizona areas. If you are starting to plan your trip and are looking to fill out your itinerary, I have provided you with some good suggestions in my Monument Valley guide below.
Moab, Utah Area
Moab, Utah is what I would consider to be the outdoor adventure capital of the United States. Not only are two of America’s most popular national parks located just a short distance from the city, but it also has a vast number of hiking and mountain biking trails to offer in the area.
If you are into climbing, the area is also one of the most popular rock-climbing destinations in the Western United States, with many different areas to enjoy some time on a pitch.
In addition, the Moab area is also in close proximity to what I consider to be one of the most underrated natural rock arches and slot canyons in all of Southern Utah. For more information on what I recommend seeing in the Moab area, please see my suggestions below.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is one of the most popular parks in the United States. With one of the highest densities of natural rock arches, plus a wide array of other beautiful sandstone rock formations, the park is an absolute must-see when in the Moab, Utah area. For more information on Arches National Park and tips for how to visit, please see my Arches National Park Guide linked below.
|Arches National Park Visitor Guide|
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is one of my favorite national parks in Southern Utah. It has some of the most breathtaking canyon vistas you will find anywhere in the world. In addition, it is also a great place to go back-country canyoneering and backpacking.
With a variety of different trails for different skill levels, the park has something for visitors of all hiking skill levels to enjoy. And if you aren’t into hiking at all, the roadside viewpoints alone are worth visiting. For more information on how to visit Canyonlands National Park, please see my visitor guide linked below.
|Canyonlands National Park Visitor Guide|
While the beautiful Delicate Arch in Arches National Park may get most of the glory, I think the breathtaking Corona Arch gives it a run for its money. Located outside the national parklands, just a short drive from Moab, the Corona Arch is a gigantic natural rock arch that you take your breath away. The best part is the hike to see this arch isn’t very difficult. For information on how to hike to see the Corona Arch, please refer to my Corona Arch Hiking Guide linked below.
|The Ultimate Corona Arch Trail Hiking Guide|
While the Leprechaun Canyon isn’t technically in the Moab area, it is located between Moab and Monument Valley, which makes it a wonderful addition to any trip involving both of those destinations.
While not nearly as long as Antelope Canyon or Waterhole Canyon, Leprechaun Canyon isn’t located on Native American tribal lands, so you do not need a guide to see it. It is also located just a short distance off the road-side pullout, so it isn’t very hard to get to either.
The canyon is a popular spot for rock climbers, who like to explore much deeper and higher within the canyon, but the beginning portions of the canyon are very easy and safe to access without climbing gear. For more information on viewing Leprechaun Canyon, please see my visitor guide linked below.
|Leprechaun Canyon Trail Guide|
Page, Arizona Area
The other area that I strongly recommend exploring if you are planning a trip to see Monument Valley is the Page, Arizona area. Located right on Lake Powell near the border between Utah and Arizona, Page is another city that is popular with outdoor adventurers. Like Moab, the city of Page is in close proximity to a wealth of incredible things to see and do. While I don’t cover them all in this guide, I do want to give you some of my top recommendations to see if you do plan to visit the Page, Arizona area.
By far, the most popular tourist spot in the Page, Arizona area is the breathtaking Antelope Canyon. This incredible slot canyon took social media by storm more than a decade ago, and since then it has been one of the American Southwest’s most popular tourist spots.
The stunning slot canyon is renowned for its beams of light that enter the canyon at certain times of day, making it a photographer’s dream. However, if you do want to visit Antelope Canyon, you will need to plan ahead.
It is located on Navajo tribal lands, so the only way to see it is on a tour. Because of the popularity of the canyon, these tours sell out well in advance. For information on how to plan your visit to Antelope Canyon, please see the guide I linked to below.
|Comprehensive Antelope Canyon Guide|
I still can’t believe that Horseshoe Bend used to be an obscure, unmarked pullout on the side of the highway with a gravel path. Today, there is a paved parking lot and walking path with shaded benches because of how popular this spot has become.
You can no longer visit for free, but that doesn’t mean a stop at Horseshoe Bend isn’t worth the time. This breathtaking horseshoe bend of the Colorado River is one of the most incredible river canyon views that you will ever see. The colors of the sky, red rock canyon, and blue water seem to paint a portrait that touches your soul.
Even though I have seen it countless times, every time I am back in the area, I cannot help but return. For more information on how to see this wonderful viewpoint, please see my Horseshoe Bend visitor guide linked below.
|The Ultimate Horseshoe Bend Guide|
If you aren’t able to find an open tour to see Antelope Canyon, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see a breathtaking slot canyon during your visit to Page, Arizona. While the Waterhole Canyon doesn’t get the iconic light beams that Antelope Canyon is renowend for, it is an equally beautiful slot canyon in every other aspect.
In fact, it is much longer than Upper Antelope Canyon, so you get to see more canyon during your tour. Like Antelope Canyon, Waterhole Canyon is located on Navajo tribal lands, so you will need to book a tour to see it.
When I visited, it wasn’t nearly as busy as Upper Antelope Canyon, but I imagine that will change as word gets out. If you want to plan your visit to see this beautiful slot canyon, please see my Waterhole Canyon guide linked below.
|The Ultimate Waterhole Canyon Guide|
Monument Valley Photo Gallery
Monument Valley is a truly beautiful place that has a long history with both Hollywood and the music industry. Even if you haven’t been to Monument Valley before, the odds are you have seen it in one form of media or another. In my Monument Valley guide below, I have included a gallery of some of the photos that we have taken at this beautiful place throughout the years.
If you would like to view some more of my top photos from this trip, as well as photos from some of my many other travel adventures, make sure you are following me on Instagram as well!