Why was Monument Valley Created
Monument Valley is an area of spectacular beauty with towers of red sandstone that rise from the valley floor to elevations of over 1,000 feet. This area was famous for being the backdrop of many western movies, long before large number of tourists visited the area. Monument Valley Tribal Park was created to protect and conserve one of the most scenic and least disturbed portions of this area. Monument valley also protects Native American history from the time of the Ancestral Puebloans, to the recent Navajo Tribe.
How do you get to Lake Monument Valley
Driving to Monument Valley-
US Roue-163 is the main highway through Monument Valley. This is also the road you’ll take to get to the Tribal Park and other less visited areas of Monument Valley. This is a fairly isolated area and Kayenta, AZ is the closest town with a nmber of services.
Monument Valley Airports-
There is a small private airport in Monument Valley, but permission is needed to land there. There are daily flights from major airports in Flagstaff AZ, Farmington NM, Grand Junction CO, and St George UT, but they are all a good drive from Monument Valley and you may be better coming directly from an international airport. Phoenix is the closest international airport at 5.5 hours, while Salt Lake City and Las Vegas are about a 7-hour drive.
Monument Valley Car Rentals- There are no car rental agencies in Monument Valley so you’ll need your own vehicle to explore this area.
Monument Valley Shuttles- There are a few companies that offer shuttles to Monument Valley, but it’s pricey and you’re typically better off having your own car.
Monument Valley Fees and Other Costs
You can travel through Monument Valley on Route 163 and get some good views without paying any fees. If you want to visit the Tribal Park it is a $5 general admission fee. Camping is $10 per night, and tours vary in price.
Monument Valley Weather and Climate
Monument Valley is a dry desert climate with a lot of sunshine and little rain. The average summer highs are in the 90’s, although it does cool off quite a bit at night especially after an afternoon thunderstorm. Spring and fall are very mild with highs in the 60’s and 70’s and lows in the 40’s to 50’s. The winter season has mild days in the 40’s with nighttime lows dropping below freezing.
When to visit Monument Valley
Summer is hot and dusty in Monument Valley, but it is still worth checking out if you’re in the area. Fall is probably the best time to explore the area with spring as a close second. Winter can be cold, but this is also when very few of Monument Valley 400,000 annual visitors pass through.
Environment of Monument Valley
Monument Valley Tribal Park is 29,817 acres, but the entire valley is much larger. The Monuments we see today are composed of Cedar Mesa Sandstone, some of which have cap rocks of Red Organ Rock Shale. The valley floor is typically made up of shale and other soft sedimentary rocks, which like the monuments gets their red color form iron oxide.
Monument Valley Flora and Fauna
Monument Valley is fairly void of life due to the harsh arid conditions. You will find some shrubs like rabbit brush, cliff rose and purple sage, as well as a few juniper trees. Because of the lack of vegetation and competition from sheep grazing wildlife is also scare, but you will see reptiles and some small mammals.
Monument Valley Accommodations
The closest town to Monument Valley is Kayenta Arizona. There are a variety of hotels and restaurants in Kayenta, as well as all the basic services you’ll need. There is a campground, RV park and hotel located in in the Monument Valley Tribal Park. Right outside of the Tribal Park is Goulding’s, which is home to a lodge, gift shop, campground, RV Park and several other services.
Monument Valley Activities
The majority of visitors to Monument Valley are only there for a scenic drive, but there are many other options. There are some great hikes and jeep tours, some of which go to area that are restricted without a guide. For a wild west adventure there are horse rides, and for a birds eye view scenic flights are available over monument valley from several nearby cities.
Monument Valley Food and Drink
The View lodge within Monument Valley Tribal Park has food and beverages available. Right outside the Park, Goulding’s also has a lodge and dining options. The majority of restaurants and other services are located in Kayenta.
Monument Valley Health, Safety and Hazards
Summer time in Monument Valley can be quite hot and sunburn and dehydration are always something to be aware of. There are also some big dust storms when monsoon winds kick up the dust, but don’t necessarily produce any rain.
Monument Valley Culture and History
Evidence of human history in Monument Valley dates back to Paleo-Indian hunters who were in the area nearly 14,000 years ago. Ancestral Puebloan farmers settled this area about 2,000 years ago, but disappeared around 1300 AD. Paiute Indians followed the Puebloans, as did the Navajo who still live here today. Europeans arrived in the 1800’s and many silver prospectors tried to strike it rich in Monument Valley. Harry Goulding who moved to the area in 1921, built a trading post that still exists today, and helped open Monument Valley to the movie industry, and the western films that made it famous.