"Monument Valley: Time to Step Up" Top 5 Page for this destination Monument Valley State Park by richiecdisc

Monument Valley State Park Travel Guide: 363 reviews and 1,139 photos

Monument Valley may conjure visions of John Wayne and the Wild West but this is Navajo country. It is not a National Park as some would have it but a full fledged Tribal Park. While it is true that many a spaghetti western was filmed here and the scenic bluffs that dot the otherwise bleak horizon are about as American as apple pie, Native Americans have held the place sacred long before John Ford emblazoned it on celluloid. Would it be run better as a National Park? Probably. Would they be building a big hotel visible from its famous Mittens bluffs? Probably not. For better or worse, this is one park you will experience in all its Native glory. Its beauty shines through despite what feels like mismanagement. You will somehow feel you are no longer in the good old USA. That's okay, you're not. You're in Navajo country.

The page that follows will undoubtedly offend some people and I must admit to having a hard time coming to terms with Monument Valley. My first experience in 1995 left a sour taste in my mouth and I returned to in 2008 to not only show a beautiful place to my wife for her first time but also to give it another chance. While it was a better visit, I still found it lacking. A place as beautiful as this deserves a better presentation and for me that does not have to involve paved roads and water fountains at all the pullouts. It doesn't have to be gussied up and lose its rugged remoteness. Change can be simple like some explanatory displays at a visitor center, perhaps some printed material about the Scenic Valley Drive along with insights about the people who lived and live there.

To be fair, there was considerable construction going on while we were there. I feared a huge high rise hotel was being built but I see on the Internet that it is a modest two-story building in a reddish sandstone which blends pretty well into the surrounding. I don't agree with its placement but I'm sure it will give jobs to locals. A new visitor center was also being built and it can only be hoped that it represents this incredible landscape better and ushers in a new era for Monument Valley. It may never be a National Park but the Navajo Nation should do everything it can to make sure this sacred land is viewed favorably when it is invariably compared to its competitors in the park system.

  • Last visit to Monument Valley State Park: Jun 2008
  • Intro Updated Aug 11, 2009
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Reviews (17)

Comments (9)

  • Mr.Sparkle's Profile Photo
    Jan 21, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    right on man, i've been reading about the Monument road and its good to hear somebody actually say its easily passable.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    Stunning photos - even better than your usual high standard ;-) A shame your experience was a bit soured tho. We were luckier in 1994 - did a "tour" & were only ones on it, got great insights from Navajo guide & went well off path. Wasn't dear either :-)

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2009 at 11:34 AM

    You are correct - the Mittens look to be very difficult to beat! It would be nice to wake up to a view like that! Too bad though about the other issues in this park though and sad that you lost your trusty tent.

  • Gili_S's Profile Photo
    Sep 8, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    Oh dear, your desert trips are killing me ;-) I only had a little desert trip this year on my way to Petra and no one allowed to sleep there on the ground :-)

  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
    Sep 7, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    Excellent pictures of these amazing landscapes! Loved the shapes of the rock formations and the mesas. The b&w pictures are a nice addition to ubiquitous orange with a touch of blue :) Haha, I think we all enjoyed John Wayne's movies as kids :)

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Aug 27, 2009 at 8:28 PM

    Although, things might have gotten off on a bad start, but to wake up among the Mitten must have been magical. Monument Valley was a pilgrimage for me, I did it for my Dad, he absolutely loved John Wayne. The Searchers was our favorite. Great page!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Aug 25, 2009 at 6:34 AM

    I was impressed by your thoughtful tips about the pros and cons of this beautiful area. Since I was never much of a John Wayne fan I don't suppose Monument Valley would seem all that familiar to me.

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Aug 23, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    Would you happen to know about how much the tours were.

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Aug 11, 2009 at 4:25 AM

    Ah, fantastic photos!! I don't think you are negative, you are honest in your thoughts. And I see your points and agree. I shall ask Kevin (Bryce Canyon) to maybe have a talk with the officials. Horse riding is great though!!


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