Monument Valley is a tribal park found in the Colorado Plateau and composed of rock formations that reach up to 1,000 feet. The valley sits along the border separating the states of Utah and Arizona. Getting there from the closest city is not too tricky.
The city nearest to Monument is Flagstaff, Arizona. The valley is on the lands of the Navajo and within the Navajo Nation Reservation. The area is remote, and the nearest major city, Flagstaff, can be found 178 miles away from Monument Valley. Flagstaff has the airport closest to the valley.
If you’re looking to travel to Monument Valley, we’ll show you some other options for nearby cities. We’ll also look in more detail at Flagstaff and how to travel to Monument Valley from there, as well as popular hiking options.
A Little About The City Nearest to Monument
Flagstaff is in Coconino County, northern Arizona, 178 miles away from Monument Valley. It is the nearest city to Monument Valley, and it has an airport, Flagstaff Pulliam. This makes it a good access point when visiting the Monument Valley.
Cities near Monument Valley
Smaller municipalities and villages can be found nearer the valley, but bigger cities provide easier access. There are several other major cities with airports that you can use as transit points when traveling to Monument Valley.
- Phoenix, Arizona. The capital city of the state is 267 miles away from Monument Valley. Its airport is 320 miles away. Most visitors to Monument Valley fly into Phoenix Airport and then either drive around five hours or take another flight into Flagstaff.
- Albuquerque, New Mexico. This city is 340 miles away or around a six-hour drive from Monument Valley.
- Salt Lake City, Utah. The capital of Utah is 386 miles away from Monument Valley, and driving from there takes about six hours and a half.
- Las Vegas, Nevada. The popular Nevada city is found 400 miles from Monument Valley. It would also take around six hours and a half to drive from there to the valley.
The university town of Flagstaff can be found in northern Arizona. It’s situated near the Grand Canyon, at 7,000 feet elevation, and right next to Mount Elden. Around 75,000 people live in and around Flagstaff.
Its proximity to the Colorado Plateau makes it a great scenic stop on your way to Monument Valley. Its airport, Flagstaff Pulliam, receives United Airlines and American Airlines flights from airports such as Denver, Dallas Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Northern Arizona University has its main campus in Flagstaff.
Traveling from Flagstaff to Monument Valley
Flagstaff is 178 miles away from Monument Valley, and the most straightforward way to get to the valley is by driving. It takes around three hours to drive via US Route 89 and US Route 60 E. At the end of the drive, you will turn onto US Route 163 which leads to Main Monument Valley Road and the Navajo Nation Reservation.
A Guide to Monument Valley
Monument Valley, known as Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii in Navajo, is a tribal park, not a national park. The park is 92,000 acres that cover the land from northern Arizona to southern Utah.
The Navajo Tribal Council opened the park in 1958 within the Navajo Nation Reservation lands, and the Navajo continue to regulate it. The valley is known for its impressive sandstone formations which can reach heights of 1,000 feet. These formations have provided the backdrop to many Hollywood movies, such as John Ford’s Stagecoach, one of John Wayne’s first successes, and Back to the Future II.
Can You Walk around Monument Valley?
You can walk around Monument Valley, but there is only one hiking trail that can be followed without a guide. This trail is known as the Wildcat Trail.
The Wildcat Trail is a hiking route that takes you on a four-mile loop around Monument Valley. On the way, you will see the stunning sights of Merrick Butte and the two Mitten Buttes of West Mitten and East Mitten.
This is a moderate level hiking trail that lasts around three hours. The hike is recommended for spring and fall, particularly from March to late May and September to October. Shade is very rare during the summer months in the valley, and the temperatures can be too hot for a hike.
Other visitors have recommended hiking the Wildcat Trail at the valley’s magic hour at sunset. The already-stunning views become even better when the setting sun covers the rock formations of Monument Valley in red hues. For the early risers, sunrise is also a picturesque occasion.
You are allowed to bring dogs on the trail, but you will have to keep them on a leash for the duration of your visit. The hike is also suitable for families and children used to hikes of 3 to 4 miles. The moderate sections of the trail are the ones with sandy terrain, but the rest of the path is mostly dirt and rock.
Things to keep in mind
If you’re going for a visit to Monument Valley, there are a few things you should know before you go.
- Respect. Monument Valley is found on the Navajo Nation Reservation, home of the Navajo tribe. The Navajo consider visitors to the park honored guests. As such, you should be aware of the park regulations and respect the land at all times! Rock climbing is forbidden, as is desecrating any area in the park. The rock formations are all considered monuments. The Navajo also continue to live on the land and their homes and animals should remain undisturbed.
- Entry fee. The entrance to the park costs $20 per vehicle if there are four people or less. Individual fees are priced at $10. Backcountry permits can be purchased as well for hiking and camping in specifically designated areas.
- Weather. The monsoon season from June to September can bring flash floods with it. Winters can be as cold as summers are hot, and there is also the risk of high winds. Fall enjoys some of the best all-around conditions for visiting Monument Valley.
- Schedule. The valley is open every day except for Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Thanksgiving. The opening hours are 6 am-8 pm from May 1st to September 30th, and 8 am-5 pm from October 1st to April 30th.
- Surface. If you’d rather see Monument Valley by car, you should be aware that not every vehicle can face the land. There are steep inclines and rough terrain to deal with, so high clearance vehicles are recommended for the trip.
- Supplies. Water isn’t easily found within the valley, and it’s recommended to bring enough for your whole journey, especially if you’re hiking.
There are smaller municipalities and villages around Monument Valley, but the nearest city is the university city of Flagstaff, in Arizona. Flagstaff, which is 178 miles away, has an airport that provides good access to the valley, especially for those driving. There are also some cities further away with airports that suit that same purpose.
Driving from Flagstaff to Monument Valley takes around three hours. At the visitor’s center, you can pay the entrance fees and arrange the rest of your journey.
You can experience Monument Valley by walking along the Wildcat Trail, the only self-guided hiking route in the valley. The trail can be enjoyed in every season, but it’s recommended to be walked in the fall and the spring when conditions are less extreme. You should also make sure to respect the regulations of the park and the fact that these are Navajo lands.