The Ultimate Guide to a Weekend in Monument Valley

Monument Valley has incredible rock formations formed through erosion by wind and water. Two days is the perfect amount of time to experience Monument Valley, located in a Native American Reservation called Navajo Nation. It is about a 5 hour drive northeast of Phoenix, on the border of Arizona and Utah. The closest large airports are PHX (5-5.5 hours), LAS (6.5 hours), and ABQ (5-5.5 hours). The cost to enter Monument Valley is $20 per vehicle, up to 4 people. Follow this guide for the perfect weekend road trip in Monument Valley.

Best Time to Visit Monument Valley

The best time to visit Monument Valley is in the fall or the spring. In the summer highs can get up to 100 degrees F with a low in the 60s. In the winter highs can be as low as 30 degrees and it can snow. If you decide to go in the winter make sure your car will be able to handle snow on a dirt road.

Where to Stay in Monument Valley

The two closest hotels to Monument Valley are The View Hotel and Goulding’s Lodge. They aren’t cheap, so you can save money by arriving to Monument Valley Saturday morning instead of Friday night, and only staying overnight on Saturday.

The View Hotel
This hotel is located right next to the visitor center at Monument Valley and features a restaurant and trading post. The hotel has the option of a cabin (more expensive), room, or suite. Note that not all rooms here have a valley view.
Pros: Best location
Cons: More expensive, limited amenities, need to book far in advance

Goulding’s Lodge
This hotel features a restaurant, coffee shop, fitness room, museum, trading post, and heated indoor pool. You have the option of booking a room, suite with a kitchen / kitchenette, apartment, or RV park/ campground (price varies). We stayed in a small cabin suite here and really enjoyed our stay.
Pros: Cheaper option, more amenities, can book closer to the date of travel
Cons: Further from monument valley, about 5 miles away 

Where to Eat in Monument Valley

The main restaurants near Monument Valley are The View Hotel Restaurant and Goulding’s Lodge Restaurant. Even if you are not staying at these hotels you are able to eat at the restaurants. Both restaurants offer a range of food including traditional Navajo Nation food. Definitely try the Navajo Taco and the Navajo Fry Bread when you are here. As the restaurant options are limited, bring snacks with you especially if you are planning on hiking. 

Day 1: Drive Around the Loop, Watch the Sunset, Stargaze

Drive the Monument Valley 17 Mile Loop

Start your weekend in Monument Valley by driving around the 17 mile loop that starts near the visitor center parking lot. In order to do this drive you only need to pay the entrance fee to Monument Valley, no additional permits are required. While on the drive you can get out of the car in different places, walk around, and take pictures. You will find vendors along the loop at the different stopping points selling dream catchers, Native American jewelry, and more. 4WD is highly recommended but not necessary and a high clearance vehicle is not needed.

Watch the Sunset

After you finish the loop around Monument Valley, watch the sunset from the visitor center. The sun doesn’t set over monument valley but the colors around the rock formations are still very beautiful.


One of the benefits of spending a weekend in Monument Valley is being here once it gets dark so you can stargaze. Grab a glass of wine or a cup of hot chocolate – whatever you are into- and look at the starts! Since Monument Valley is so remote there is barely any light around and you can see the stars so clearly. This was one of the best parts about staying in Monument Valley overnight.

Day 2: Watch the Sunrise, Hike Around a Butte, Forrest Gump Point

Watch the Sunrise Over Monument Valley

The sunrise over Monument Valley is incredible and worth waking up early for. Make sure to bring layers because it is a lot colder at this time. Use the app to check when sunrise is as it can vary largely throughout the year. The gate to Monument Valley visitor center parking lot was left open before and after the posted hours so you should be able to get into the parking lot for a view of Monument Valley during sunrise. Watching the sunrise over these rock formations was one of the highlights during our weekend in Monument Valley.

Hike the Wildcat Trail

A weekend in Monument Valley is not complete without doing a short hike! The wildcat trail is 3.9 miles and is mostly a loop. This is the only trail that you can do without a guide. The trail leads you around Left Mitten Butte (rock structure) and allows you to stand right between the rock formations. The trailhead is located where the cars start the 17 mile loop, at the end of the parking lot on the side further from the visitor center. The hike is relatively easy, but you do walk on high sand at times so make sure you are wearing the right shoes. You could hike this in sneakers but hiking boots are preferred. Bring plenty of water, especially if hiking during the summer. No permits are required for this hike.

Enjoy the View of Monument Valley at Forrest Gump Point

Finish your incredible weekend in Monument Valley with a quick stop for a great view at Forrest Gump Point. Forrest Gump Point is where Forrest Gump stops running in the movie. It is located in Mexican Hat, Utah, about 30 minutes from Monument Valley. You can find the location labeled in google maps as Forrest Gump Point. This is a main road where cars drive fast, so please be careful and do not expect any cars to stop for you. You can see for a long distance in either direction so that is how we were able to stand in the middle of the road, but we were very careful to watch both sides constantly.

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