You’ll no doubt know Monument Valley Park as one of the most recognisable natural sights in the United States? Right?
Truth be told, Monument Valley Park has a pretty unusual landscape and unique features that are so incredible to see. Honestly, it’s one of the best parks to visit in the USA, especially if you’re a lover of all things nature.
Now, although you might be familiar with the sights of Monument Valley Park, you might not be aware of some of the most exciting and interesting aspects that are perhaps a lot lesser known.
This is why I wanted to share some of the top tips I’ve learned from our visit to Monument Valley Park.
So, before you plan your trip to Monument Valley Park, take a look at some of the best things to remember when visiting this stunning area.
1.) Monument Valley has another name
Although this area is commonly known as Monument Valley Park, the Navajo name is actually Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, which roughly translates to the valley of rocks.
This is one of the first things I learned when arriving at Monument Valley Park.
Top tip: The easiest way to pronounce it is by saying, Ze-Bi-N-Dis-Guy.
2.) Monument Valley is part of the Navajo Nation
Monument Valley Park forms just a little piece of the semi-autonomous Navajo Nation, which is the largest Native American territory in the United States.
The Navajo Nation has its own governance and judicial system that operates with its own President.
Top tip: Don’t forget that the laws of the US still apply. Though, I think you might get away with jaywalking here!
3.) Monument Valley stretches across state lines
Monument Valley Park is within the borders of Utah and Arizona and not just within one state itself. That means you can have a little fun, jumping across state lines.
Truth be told, I had far too much fun doing this!
Top tip: Okay, this is outside of the Monument Valley remit but if you’re really interested in jumping across state lines, you should definitely head to The Four Corners Monument (about 1.5 hours away) where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet!
4.) You don’t have to be a geologist to enjoy the view
You don’t have to be a professor in all things rock to enjoy this wonderful place.
The jaw-droppingly beautiful formations, shapes and vivid colours will leave you in awe… though you probably already knew that.
Top tip: Follow the assigned routes to find the best viewpoints in the park.
5.) You can drive yourself around Monument Valley Park
Once you’ve entered Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, you’ll be able to self-drive around the beautiful terrain.
With map in hand, an explorer’s spirit and good suspension (on your car), you’ll be ready for anything.
Top tip: Don’t take your Porsche here, it’s too low to drive on the rubble roads. 4-wheel drives are much better suited to the self-drive and if you arrive without one, as a last resort, you can always book a tour instead of self-driving.
6.) Visit the Three Sisters
There are many viewpoints that’ll be labelled on the pre-assigned route to follow. At each stop, you’ll see a sign and (usually) a perfect spot for a photo.
Each point has a significance to the Navajo people and is explained in full detail in the visitor centre.
Top tip: Don’t miss a stop along the way, it’ll take you a few hours but it’s well worth it!
7.) Have some fun at John Ford’s Point
One thing’s for sure, Monument Valley Park offers lots of brilliant photo ops! Each sight is numbered whilst you drive and there are lots of pit stops as you gallivant through the valley, ensuring you can tick off the varied amazing photo opportunities… or a great cliff edge to push a friend off.
N.B.: She’s fine!
Top tip: Take some time exploring these stops. Often they are filled with craftsmen and women who create some beautiful Native American art.
8.) Ride a horse
Getting a horse ride here is a unique and rather interesting way to see Monument Valley Park.
If you get the chance to, park your car and experience the park in a totally different and fantastic way.
Top tip: If you’re an inexperienced rider, make sure to let your guide know. They understand their horses better than anyone and can often find the right horse with the right temperament (and patience) for your skill level.
9.) Temperatures can plummet at night
Don’t be shocked when if it starts to get really chilly in Monument Valley Park. Yes, you’re in an arid, almost desert-like environment but that often means very cold temperatures at night!
Top tip: Take a jacket, on our drive south temperatures plummeted to -2!
10.) Don’t arrive late
The drive across the park is almost 17 miles long! Take into account that you must drive slowly and probably end up doubling your time by stopping lots at vista points.
Now, make sure to give yourself 3-4 hours to fully self-drive the park as it’s can be pretty vast.
Top tip: Also, for convenience, check into the Goulding’s Lodge – it’s so close by and perfect after a long day exploring.
11.) Mid-day traffic is long and real
In the height of summer and key holidays, the viewing points become very busy with large amounts of visitors.
The best way to limit queuing is to arrive first thing in the morning or just before lunch when queues simmer slightly.
Top tip: Avoid visiting on holidays and weekends if possible.
12) Enjoy each of 27 viewpoints
There’s no point in heading all the way to Monument Valley only to miss a few points.
Keep your eyes open for the viewpoints that are clearly marked – each one is different and well worth the stop.
Top tip: Follow the route that is provided to you upon entry into the park.
13.) Take lots of photos
It’s impossible not to become trigger happy at Monument Valley! You’ll want to photograph everything. Take your DSLR, iPhone… heck, anything with a lens to capture that special trip.
Top tip: Weather conditions can change fast, so make sure to take a waterproof cover for your camera and yourself!
14.) Catch a sunset
The Navajo Tribal Park offers some of the very best places to catch a sunset. After leaving Monument Valley in the late afternoon, wait a little while for a beautiful sunset on the open road! It’s a stunning sight.
Top tip: Head to the open plains for a dramatic mid-west sunset.
15.) Monument Valley Navajo Park isn’t a National Park
Although it is as protected as a National Park would be, the Navajo Park doesn’t follow the same system as a United States National Park.
This all means opening times may vary depending on the time of year, so be warned.
Top tip: Make sure to check their website before visiting. No one wants to be disappointed by turning up on a day when access to the park is prohibited.
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