Monument Valley is literally a valley full of monuments; the Camel Butte, the West Mitten Butte, King on His Throne, and Valley Drive. Straddling the border of Arizona and Utah, Monument Valley lies completely within the Navajo Indian Reservation and is about a two and a half hour drive from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
A visual feast, the park features a 17 mile (27 km) scenic drive characterized by the region’s phenomenal desert landscape. Host to magnificent sandstone formations, rock sculptures, expansive mesas, and isolated buttes, the scorched desert environment of Monument Valley is one of the most photogenic subjects on the planet.
What to do at Monument Valley
Hike the Wildcat Trail
While the scenic drive is over 17 miles (27 km), there is a 4 mile (6.4 km) trail offering the most impressive views right at your footstep. The Wildcat Trail explores the most jam-packed monuments in the valley and transports hikers to a desert landscape from a fantasy world.
Wildcat Trail features the most famous buttes in the valley, including the Mitten Butte and the Merrick Butte. A self-guided trail, this activity also allows visitors to do something on their own and experience the whole valley to themselves.
The Mexican Hat
… Mexican Hat is a town in Utah, but also a rock formation.
Located about 20 miles (32 km) from Monument Valley, it’s still close enough to the monuments to be considered one; it is certainly a must-visit.
As you thought, the rock in question is shaped like a Mexican Hat… don’t know why they didn’t call it ‘sombrero’. The story goes that a Mexican cowboy fell in love with a Native American girl and was turned to stone by her evil husband, a medicine man who practiced dark magic.
For those of you unimpressed with the actual rock, note that climbing it is actually legal in this area- just saying.
About that scenic drive…
Some say that the best way to see all the monuments in Monument Valley is by hiring a local to drive you around in a jeep for half a day. Being a local and all, your tour guide will not only take you to see the most famous of the park’s rock formations, buttes, and desert peculiarities, they can also take you to more secluded areas for even greater views and photo opportunities.