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For the best breathtaking (and recognizable) views of the iconic West, this is the place. The soaring red buttes, eroded mesas, deep canyons, and naturally sculpted rock formations found here are an easy 21-mile drive south of Mexican Hat on U.S. 163 across Navajo land. Monument Valley is a small part of the nearly 16-million acre Navajo Reservation, and is sacred to the Navajo Nation, or Diné (pronounced din-eh, which means "the people"), as they refer to themselves. For generations, the Navajo have grown crops and herded sheep in Monument Valley, considered to be one of the most scenic and mesmerizing destinations in the Navajo Nation. Director John Ford made this amazing land of buttes, towering rock formations, and mesas popular when he filmed Stagecoach here in 1938. The 30,000-acre Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park lies within Monument Valley. A 17-mile self-guided driving tour on a dirt road (there's only one road, so you can't get lost) passes the memorable Mittens
and Totem Pole formations, among others. Drive slowly, and be sure to walk (15 minutes round-trip) from North Window around the end of Cly Butte for the views. Call ahead for road conditions in winter. The Monument Valley visitor center holds a small crafts shop and exhibits devoted to ancient and modern Native American history. Most of the independent guided tours here use enclosed vans and you will usually be approached in the parking lot; you can find about a dozen approved Navajo Native American guides in the center. They will escort you to places you are not allowed to visit on your own. Bring your camera (and extra batteries) to capture this surreal landscape that constantly changes with the rising and setting sun.
Visitor center, off U.S. 163, 21 miles south of Mexican Hat, Monument Valley, Utah, 84536, United States
435-727–5870-park visitor center; 928-871–6647-Navajo Parks & Recreation Dept.