Drive the Scenic Loop of Monument Valley

17 Miles Round Trip - Loop Trail

Monument Valley - Search Nearby - Added by Dan Deublein

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.

Tags

Chillin
Camping
Photography
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife

Details

17 Miles
Loop Trail

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Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Amazing.

We watched the Sunrise over the mittens and then took off on this drive. The early morning light was amazing and we only saw 2 other cars.

Great Trip

I highly recommend everyone check this out if they are in the area. We were going to skip it, but we were all glad we didn't. The pictures you see of Monument Valley don't justify how scenic this park is. The roads are pretty rough, but it definitely makes you feel like you are taking a step back in time. Don't rush through the drive, take as much time as you can to enjoy each stop.

Unbelievable

This ended up being one of my favorite stops on a trek I did around Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, and it was the one place I didn't think we needed to spend much time at. I was wrong. This place is amazing! It doesn't mention it in the adventure but it does cost $20 to enter the park and it's good for 7 days. If you don't have AWD or 4WD, pay attention to flash flooding warnings before embarking on the scenic drive, seriously. Once your done with trek, I recommend going on a horseback adventure around the monuments. John Wayne style! =)