Drive the Scenic Loop of Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Be ready to experience one of the most majestic and overwhelming landscapes on earth! A 17mi drive that will leave you stunned...bring your camera.

Be ready to embark on this 17 mile monumental scenic drive. The loop includes 11 numbered viewpoints and you can expect to spend between 2-4 hours in the park. For the best experience, check park hours and arrive early before the 15 mph traffic begins to stack up.  You will find the beginning of the loop at the northwest corner of the View Hotel parking lot, near the view cabins. Here are the viewpoints:

1. The Mittens & Merrick Butte

There is a slight initial descent with a couple of switchbacks as the three most famous formations come into view: West Mitten Butte, Merrick Butte and Merrick Butte. If you wish to see West Mitten Butte close up, you can hike the Wildcat Trail

2. Elephant Butte

The road bends right and Elephant Butte comes into view in the distance. While it may not initially look much like an elephant in the morning, the shadows lengthen towards the end of the day making it look very much like an elephant in the desert. 

3. Three Sisters

View point number three is on the west side of the road. You will see three high pinnacles which represents a Catholic num facing her two pupils. 

4. John Ford's Point

Named after the hollywood director, this is a view for many Western Movies. There is an opportunity here to shop for authentic Navajo goods and also take an iconic photo of a man on his horse, perched on the edge of the viewpoint. 

5. Camel Butte

While some find this butte difficult to imagine as a camel, he does face west which can sometimes help reveal this camel in the desert.

6. The Hub 

A single solitary structure, 150 feet high, which a cluster of dwellings at its base. 

7. Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei

At the edge of the valley you will see Yei Bi Chei (Navajo spiritual Gods), a group of spires, and the 450 foot high Totem Pole. 

8. Sand Spring

This is a natural aquifer that seeps out where De Chelly and Navajo sandstone formations meet under the sand dune. You get a better perspective of the Totem Pole and Yet Bi Chei from this angle being that you are slightly closer.

9. Artist's Point

You will take a right off the one-way loop for a short climb where you will see the familiar West Mitten Butte, Merrick Butte and East Mitten Butte. This viewpoint is often less crowded than John Ford's Point making it a favorite of mine within the park. This is the best spot in the park to photograph Sunrises! 

10. North Window

A northern overlook of the lower valley with a view of Elephant Butte, Cly Butte. "Cly" (Navajo for left) is named after a well known Navajo Medicine man who is buried at the foot of the formation. 

11. The Thumb

The last overlook along the drive some also say this looks very much like a cowboy boot. Not far beyond, the loop will take you back to John Ford's Point which you will continue to the visitor center 3.5 miles ahead. 

A Few Tips

There are no restrooms while on the loop. Vendors within the loop do sell soda and water along with native items at various points. Start early as it can be slow going with the tour trams and other visitors. There is no hiking in the park, but you can do the 3.2 mile Wildcat Trail. If you are staying in the area, you will have a chance to stay in a Hogan which is a rustic, yet fascinating Navajo experience! If you're thinking of camping, check out The View Campground in Monument Valley.

Pack List

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RT Distance 17 Miles
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Epic road trip experience

Try to time your road trip so you can take in a stunning sunset here. Be aware that sometimes sandstorms are so intense that you can get rerouted on part of your journey - and you may end up in reservation territory with no phone signal. If you’re lucky and desert magic is on your side, a local will notice you’re out of place and stop to help direct you back onto your path. And if you find an old dream catcher in the dirt while you’re getting those directions, it’s probably best to leave it.

Iconic, unforgettable

This is one of the world's great scenic drives and isn't to be missed. Get there before sunrise and skip the crowds. Simply breathtaking.

Worth the traffic

We opted to hike before doing this drive, so we hit mid-afternoon traffic on our drive, but it was still incredible. The views are so amazing - it's hard to put into words.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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