Nestled on the border between Arizona and Utah is one of the prettiest places in the Southwest.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is home to iconic views and is one of the most photographed places on Earth. While the park is the perfect spot for a quick hike or a photoshoot, it is also full of historical and cultural significance.
Monument Valley is very similar to the countless National Parks surrounding it, but is considered a Navajo Tribal Park because it falls under the jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation’s territory in the Four Corners region of the United States. The Tribal Park is open to visitors yet is also home to Navajo families that live and rely on the land. With that being said, it is important to be respectful when visiting Monument Valley. Leave No Trace principles should be practiced all the time wherever you go, but especially when you’re visiting land that people call home.
When I went to Monument Valley for the day my friends and I hiked the Wildcat trail, which led to the viewpoint that allowed us to see all three of the famous buttes together. The 3.2 mile loop also took us deeper into the desert and around one of the buttes (pictured above). Hiking in Monument Valley was very moderate and the views were breathtakingly gorgeous.
We visited the Tribal Park on an overcast and windy day, and in my opinion it made everything all the more beautiful. Purple clouds filled the sky, and the dreary weather made the oranges and greens of the landscape stand out.
After hiking on the Wildcat trail, my friends and I explored the park by taking the scenic drive. There are plenty of spots along the drive to pull off an admire the view, and even some stands where you can buy souvenirs.
The buttes and sandstone towers aren’t the only attraction in Monument Valley. You might see some wild pups while you’re there, and if you’re lucky one might even guide you around! Shrubbery, a black pup with a bobbed tail and a friendly personality, escorted my group as we hiked through the park. If you happen to see him, give him a pat on the head and a tasty stick from me.
There are also horses that you can visit during the scenic drive. Horseback tours are available from the Navajo Tribe, and while I didn’t go on one myself I did get to meet the horses. They also enjoy pats on the head, but respectfully declined the tasty stick offering.
If you want to learn more about the cultural significance of the park or about its history, consider taking a guided jeep tour.
There is so much to see, learn, and experience in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, and I highly recommend checking it out for yourself if you’re in the area.
Was this helpful? Have feedback for me? Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos in this post were taken by me or John Miller.