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 following films:
- 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:
- 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 fact, that scene in Forrest Gump garnered so much attention because of the beauty of Monument Valley that the 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 about the area can be quite difficult because of the gravel roads.
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 There
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 below for your reference.
|Las Vegas, Nevada||400 miles|
|Flagstaff, Arizona||178 miles|
|Moab, Utah||152 miles|
|Albuquerque, New Mexico||324 miles|
|Mesa Verde National Park||157 miles|
|Bryce Canyon National Park||279 miles|
|Arches National Park||157 miles|
|Canyonlands National Park||144 miles|
|Capitol Reef National Park||184 miles|
|Grand Canyon National Park||158 miles|
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 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.
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.
Best Time to Visit
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.
Average Temperature (°F)
Average Precipitation (Inches)
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. Below is a gallery of some of the photos that we have taken at this beautiful place throughout the years.