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Monument Valley - Utah

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Monument Valley is Navajo territory. This vast area -- with its magnificent red buttes beloved of Hollywood's western movies -- is Monument Valley Tribal Park. It is reached by driving southwest on U.S. Highway 163 from the small settlement of Mexican Hat, in the "Goosenecks" area of southeastern Utah.

Aside from the memorable buttes, much of the attraction of Monument Valley is the Navajo culture. The huge Navajo Indian Reservation covers 25,000 square miles in three states. The Utah section alone covers one million acres. Several cultural attractions are found in the valley. Goulding's Trading Post re-creates valley life in the 1920s. The Tribal Park Museum features Navajo archeology, and the Indian relics are remarkable. The museum is open each day from 8 am to 6 pm. Oljedo Trading Post and Museum in Monument Valley is a state historic site.

The road into Monument Valley is paved as far as the visitor center and museum. The rest of the routes in the valley are dirt sideroads, which are regularly maintained. Drivers have the choice of taking a self-guiding loop road that shows some of the attractions or taking a guided tour of the park. Guided tours are available from park headquarters, at Goulding's Lodge and -- from outside the park -- in the towns of Bluff, Monticello, Blanding, and Moab, as well as from the nearby community of Mexican Hat. Highway 163 continues south toward the Grand Canyon, which is 143 miles from the Utah/Arizona border.

Other nearby scenic wonders include the Valley of the Gods, with a series of sculpted rock formations, 10 miles north of Mexican Hat on a loop road off Hwy. 261. For the most spectacular scene of them all, with panoramic views of Monument Valley, the Goosenecks of the San Juan River and the Four Corners, drive farther north on 261 to the Moki Dugway Lookout.

Mexican Hat is a launching point for rafting trips on the San Juan River.

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A campground is operated by the tribal park. There is a private RV park in Mexican Hat, the nearest town. Goosenecks State Park -- 4 miles northwest of Mexican Hat -- has a public campground as well as fine views of the 1,000-foot chasm of the San Juan River.

The only overnight accommodations in the valley are at Goulding's Lodge. Tours are available here, as well as 64 rooms, a restaurant, and a swimming pool. For information, phone (435) 727-3231.

The nearest accommodation outside the valley is in Mexican Hat. There are three trading posts here, as well as two motels, an RV park, and two cafes. The community is 22 miles north of the Utah/Arizona border, across the San Juan River from the Navajo Reservation.

Nearby Places

Canyonlands National Park

Arches National Park


Capitol Reef National Park

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