Monument Valley

HikeSnobs rate this: 3thumb


Visited: May 30, 2016

Description: Located on the Arizona-Utah borders, Monument Valley is a beautiful Tribal park famous for its towering butte sandstones. Accessible by 17 mile scenic loop.

General Fees: $20 per vehicle of 4 people, additional person(so) $6, ages 6 or older free
Commercial fees:  1-6 passengers, $35.00 7-15 passengers, $100.00
16-25 passengers, $125.00
26-+ passengers, $300.00
**National Parks and Golden Eagle Passes are not accepted.
Veterans passes aren’t accepted either… we tried 😦

Hours: (May 1-Sept 30) 6:00am – 8:00pm, and Winter-(Oct 1 – Apr .0) 8:00am -5pm


Duration: 2-3 hours or more, depending on what you want to do

Difficulty: Easy!

Pets: Dog-on leash.

Parking: Wherever there’s an open space

Best time to go: Mornings, late afternoon.

Bring: Water, camera

Monument Valley can be a quick 2-3 hour visit or a day’s worth of adventure. We took the 17 mile scenic drive and decided to take a break from hiking after a weekend of nonstop trekking. HikeSnobs need a break too!

Named by the early settlers of Monument Valley, the park is full of imaginative rock formations like Elephant Butte or Totem Pole. Other names like Rain God Mesa or Spearhead Mesa represent a certain meaning to the Navajo people. Driving through the park, you will easily find all these buttes, mesas and rock formations. Just make sure you let your creative juices flow so you can visualize what the settlers and Navajos saw.

List of monuments:

1. East and West Mitten Buttes – Looks like hands, yet it signifies spiritual beings watching over.

2. Merrick Butte and Mitchell Mesa -Named after two prospectors who discovered silver inside the park. Unfortunately, stories reveal that a band of The Ute tribe killed the two and concealed the silver.

3. Elephant Butte – Imagine a gigantic elephant in the southwest desert.

4. Three Sisters – A formation of Catholic nun facing her two pupils.

5. John Fords Point – Named after Film director John Ford, this location was used for many Westerns  in 1930’s-1960’s. A beautiful plateau overlooking the Valley Drive and the Sentinel Mesa, West Butte, & Merrick Butte.

6. The Hub -­ symbolizes a hub of a wagon wheel. Navajos see it as a fire place in the center of a gigantic Hogan (a Navajo home).

7. Rain God Mesa -­ marks the geological center of the park. Navajo medicine men pray and give thanks to the Rain God, who stored water for the people. On the south side, you can see dark painted streaks from the natural aquifer that seeps out at the base of the sandstone.

8. Bird Spring -­ overlooks a vast sand dune. At the bottom of the east portion is called
Sand Springs, a natural aquifer seeps out where the De Chelly and Navajo sandstone formations meet under the sand dune.

9. Totem Pole – this spire monument is an example of what erosion does to a butte. A totem pole is a historical or mythical marker created by Northeastern tribes, usually carved out of wood.

10. The Yei Bi Chei -­ (Navajo spiritual gods) located east of the Totem Pole, is a formation of dancers emerging from a Hogan.

11. Artist’s Point – place where artists can create landscape and bring them to life on their canvas.


12. Spearhead Mesa – attached to spire monument that looks like a spear of an arrow.

13. North Window -­ overlooks the northern view of the lower valley. On the left is Elephant Butte. On the right is Cly Butte, Cly (Navajo name for Left), is named after a well known Navajo medicine man, he is buried at the foot of the formation.

14. The Thumb – a free standing spire apart from Camel Butte. This formation
also looks like a cowboy boot.

15. Camel Butte – This mid-­eastern animal faces the west.

If you’d like to hike into the Valley, the only self-guided trail available is the Wildcat trail which takes you around the West Mitten Butte. 3.2 miles long with a ~5,400 feet of elevation, we decided to pass. We were already impressed by just driving through the park. It was the last day of our roadtrip and we were pretty drained.

Anyone who is interested in seeing beautiful towering sandstones with incredible natural and cultural history should stop by Monument Valley. We were so happy to squeeze in some time to explore Monument Valley. While it was a last minute decision on our end, it was the perfect way to end our trip.

@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • A vehicle fit for dirt roads is helpful but not required.

Helpful map/guide:

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

6 thoughts on “Monument Valley

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