Southern Utah Region
Located in southeast Utah and the northern border of Arizona lies the sandstone buttes of Monument Valley that are distinctly familiar thanks to Hollywood’s long love affair with this land. This majestic and inspiring landscape is one of the most photographed places on earth. You will recognize the amazing buttes set against the dramatic desert landscape that have been used in many films, particularly the John Wayne/John Ford Western movies or more recently Forrest Gump, Back to the Future III, the 2013 Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp, and Transformers.
This valley is filled with sandstone towers of heights up to 1,000ft. The most famous are called “The Mittens” as the two towers resemble a pair of mittens. Spanning more than 91,000 acres, the towers are joined by mesas, buttes, trees, and shrubs. Green grasses of spring against the red rock are magnificent.
The 17-mile scenic road starts at the visitor center and shows off a good portion of the park, including the famous Mitten Buttes. You can also hike, horseback ride, or stare at the stars, but the best way to truly experience this land is to take a guided tour. A variety of tours are offered through several tour companies; many of them are Navajo and will talk of their history and culture.
Set aside by the Navajo Tribal Council in 1958, the park covers almost 92,000 acres in northern Arizona and southern Utah and lies within the Navajo Nation reservation. The valley is accessible from US Hwy 163 off US Hwy 191 just south of Bluff. Many of the buttes can be seen right from US Hwy 163, but to really see the formations, drive the 17-mile dirt road which has eleven designated stops. (Allow two to four hours.) Many of the formations have been named by the Navajo for spiritual references, or by early settlers of the area.
Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation oversees this Tribal Park on the Navajo Nation Reservation. This is not a U.S. park and has different rules and regulations to follow. Please be very respectful. The park has a visitor center, restaurant, campground, and gift shop. Various tours are available including horseback tours and vehicle tours ranging from two to three hours, or all-day tours which also visit adjacent Mystery Valley. All tours are led by local Navajo guides and are a great way to learn about the history and culture of the area.
For your planning purposes, Moab is a three-hour drive to the visitor center. Entrance to the park is $20/car. For more information, visit navajonationparks.org.