This drive has been called the most scenic in America by many and it’s no wonder why. As you travel this flat desert landscape, huge red monoliths and unique rock formations jut out of the landscape, giving the valley its name. Some of these “monuments” stand 1,000 feet high. It is a spectacular and dramatic landscape, and driving this route will add to your Utah national parks or Grand Canyon vacation experience. The most iconic and photographed image of Monument Valley is the one that can be enjoyed while traveling south on Highway 163 toward the southern border of Utah and the northern border of Arizona. But don’t miss driving the road inside the tribal park, accessible with a small admission fee.
Located in Southeast Utah and the Northern border of Arizona – near the Four Corners region – lies the sandstone buttes of the Monument Valley. An iconic stretch of land, the Monument Valley is part of the Navajo Indian Nation and home to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.
From the visitor center, you see the world-famous panorama of the Mitten buttes and Merrick Butte. You can also purchase guided tours from Navajo tour operators, who will take you down into the valley in jeeps for a narrated cruise through these mythical formations. Places such as Ear of the Wind and other landmarks can only be accessed via guided tours.
The soaring sandstone features, some reaching 1,000 feet, make this a popular hiking location. The challenging Grand Gulch hikes showcase Anasazi ruins, while an easier trek through the Butler Wash Ruins travels past the an Anasazi cliff dwelling complex.
A Monumental Stay at The View Hotel and Restaurant
While the majority of travelers just drive through Monument Valley, they are missing out on a truly authentic Navajo experience by not stopping at The View Hotel.
“There truly is a magic to the valley, and there is nothing better than experiencing it from the privacy of your own room,” says Jon Gordon, hotel general manager. “Additionally, the trading post offers one of the largest selections of Navajo handmade rugs and Native American arts and crafts in the entire Southwest,” noting each item is locally made and comes with a certificate of authenticity, a guarantee few trading posts offer.
A fifth-generation entrepreneur, 32-year-old Armanda Ortega-Gordon owns the hotel with her two sisters, fulfilling a childhood dream to be a Navajo business owner and give back to her community. Her family has deep roots in the Southwest’s hospitality and trading business as her grandfather owns the famous El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, N.M.
So far, Ortega-Gordon is off to a great start. She created The View to bring more visitors to enjoy the area and create economic growth for the community. When she opened, about 100,000 travelers came through the area. Today, 500,000 stop and explore.
Each hotel room is decorated with authentic Native American decor, including area photographs taken by R.S. Ortega (Armanda Ortega-Gordon’s sister) and a dye chart that shows visitors which plants were used to dye the wool in the locally made Navajo rugs.
Don’t miss eating at the hotel, which offers Navajo-inspired and classic American dishes, many named after Navajo locals and Hollywood actors that made Monument Valley famous. The green chile stew has been mentioned in Esquire magazine and Delta Sky.
Visit The View Hotel Indian Route 42, Olijato-Monument Valley, Utah; 435-727-5555; monumentvalleyview.com/the-view-hotel/.
Monument Valley Trivia
Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films, and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, “its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.
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Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation