Best time to visit: Year Around
Recommended Hikes: Wildcat Trail (West Mitten Butte)
Ideal For: Hiking, Camping, Auto-Touring
Where to stay: The View campground and hotel
Monument Valley is a really surreal and peaceful place. It's sandstone buttes have been featured in films for decades as the embodiment of the American West. The park is in the heart of Navajo Nation, located on Highway 163, right on the border between Utah and Arizona. This is a year around destination, but summers are hot!
Must See Attractions:
Wildcat Trail - the lone hiking path within the park that you can access without an official Navajo guide. The hike goes around the West Mitten Butte, read more about it in the hiking section below.
Scenic Drive - a 17 mile dirt road auto-tour of the park. The road is accessible to all vehicles when dry. There are 11 official stops/viewpoints on the drive - they are all worth stopping at.
Highway View - Not the official name, but this is the famous viewpoint of the road disappearing into buttes on the horizon. It is located on Highway 163 just north of the park - you can't miss it.
The park itself is really small, with just one hiking route and the 17 mile scenic drive. Even if you don't have time to enter the park, driving through this area on Highway 163 is awesome and worth doing if you can.
Park entrance fees are $10 per person of $20 per car (up to four people). See more useful stats about the park's hours and seasons here.
Much of the land is private property, which is why there is only one hiking route. You can hire an official Navajo guide to take you to more secluded areas with more impressive rock formations.
Drinking water is available at the visitor center, bring your water bottle to fill up.
Where to Stay:
the View campground and hotel. Located within the park boundaries - and the view is incredible. The campground even has showers and limited wifi. Reserve online here.
Hiking in Monument Valley:
The Wildcat Trail - This is the one hiking trail you can do without an official guide and it's awesome - one of my personal favorite short hikes in the southwest. The trail circles the famous Left Mitten Butte, and gives you a chance to really appreciate the massive monolith up close. The hike is roughly four miles long - read more about it here.
Parts that I missed:
A guided Navajo tour - You can book tours to deeper areas in Monument Valley that go beyond the scenic drive. There is a sales stand near the visitor center - I haven't tried them but they look to be quite popular.