Monument Valley Scenic Drive
If you want to see much of the Monument Valley scenic drive from multiple views you’ve come to the right place. Today you will see the views that defined the old west. The Navajo have made this place their home and we are blessed they share this wonderful country with us. At the end, we will have another Post if you want to learn more about Monument Valley with us.
The Monument Valley scenic drive is 17 miles and there is a small fee per car. Here is a view of the drive from Google Maps. The drive is open only during the day and starts and ends at the visitor's center. Check their website for exact times. https://navajonationparks.org/tribal-parks/monument-valley/ . People who are in a hurry may be able to complete the drive in an hour and it should take less than four hours to complete.
The Visitor's center provides an elevated view of the mittens and Merrick Butte. Inside you will find paintings, jewelry, books, shirts, hats and other souvenirs and keepsakes. There is something for every budget.
Make sure you pack your cameras and binoculars. These views are amazing. For a nice pair of compact binoculars check out the Nikon's via amazon : https://amzn.to/3CIzyE9
The drive has variable terrain. You will see a decent road that turns to generally unimproved road. One advantage is that it makes people slow down. I wouldn’t recommend it but we did see a Nissan Leaf electric car on the loop trail. It was a rental and the bottom under the passenger door was damaged from driving on the loop. You’ll see a Ford Mustang on the drive and a minivan as well as tour trucks if you would rather have a chauffeur. From these sightings, if you are comfortable, most cars can make the drive although suvs and trucks are the better options.
map courtesy of google maps.
Throughout the park there are Navajo selling homemade crafts so bring cash. They might also take credit cards. The tour guides are able to take you into more of the Valley and provide history and experiences that are unavailable with the self-guided tour. Inquire at the visitor’s center.
There are a number of named rock formations. We will identify those throughout this post in the photos as best we can. We also have to videos on Youtube. Here is the longer 28 minute video
We had everyone film this drive. It was fun to let everyone in the brood have a turn and you will see side views, front facing views and generally different camera angles. Here is the shorter "highlights" video.
We filmed this drive with a gopro hero 8 and gopro hero 4 silver. They've definitely made some improvements with their action cameras.
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The history of Goulding’s is worth mentioning. In the early 1920s, Harry Goulding and his wife Leone, nicknamed Mike, purchased land in Monument Valley and setup a trading post to facilitate business and trade among the settlers and Navajo. During the 1930s the Depression was devastating the region’s people and the Gouldings enticed John Ford to film hollywood pictures in the Valley. This effort forever made Monument Valley Synonymous with the Old West. Two movies that are iconic include the Searchers and Stagecoach with John Wayne. More recently National Lampoon’s Vacation, Forrest Gump, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Mission: Impossible II. Metallica even filmed the music video I Disappear on top of one of the Buttes. You can learn more about the history of the Gouldings, John Ford and more at the Goulding’s Museum and Trading Post.
We’re here to help you experience and plan for beginner hiking adventures in our National and State Parks. If you enjoy this post today we have many other formats and content on this blog and YouTube channel. We encourage you to look around to see what we have.
Horseback riding is another way to immerse yourself into the valley. Horses give you the opportunity to ride around the West Mitten and see Merrick Butte up close. Our guide shared his experiences and the history of the area. We had a great guide with Sacred Monument tours and look forward to sharing those views in another post.
While you are in Monument Valley don’t forget to visit the location where Forrest Gump stopped running. Even if you don’t want the photo it is fun to watch people dodging cars.
If you are looking for a great place to spend the night while in Monument Valley, Gouldings has the best location and is perfect for RVs. They also have tent sites available and a lodge for those looking for a room. We stayed in our motorhome and have a post specifically focused on Gouldings RV here Gouldings RV Resort-Monument Valley (campbrood.com)
Monument Valley is in a great location to be bundled with other grand destinations located 2.5 hours East of Lake Powell and both are on the Utah Arizona border. Mesa Verde National Park is 3.5 hours east of Monument Valley in Colorado and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is about 3.5 hours Southwest from Monument Valley in Arizona.