Monument Valley Tribal Park

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It’s quite difficult to keep your eyes on the road, as you zip past this scenery.  Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of chances for pictures once you turn off 163, and head towards Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

While the park is in Arizona, you must drive across the border into Utah, then cut back.

As you get closer, you’ll see scenes like this one.  And we’re not even in the park yet!

Monument Valley is not a National Park, it’s a Navajo Tribal Park.  That means annual passes to National Parks are not accepted.  Admission is $5 per person (2004 price), and well worth it.

Monument Valley Tribal Park

You’ve probably seen this scene before.  These buttes are known as the Mittens, and you can probably figure out why.  The best place to view both Mittens at once is at the visitor’s center.

Note the dirt road below… that’s where we’re headed next.

Now we’re on the dirt road… which provides plenty of up-close views of the Mittens, and plenty of other buttes.

The Navajo Nation asks you stay on the road.  Navajo Indians live in the park, so wandering off the beaten path could put you in someone’s front yard, or on sacred ground.

Here’s another great scene along the dirt road.  Allow at least an hour or two for your bumpy, dusty ride around the feet of these beautiful buttes.  The road may be rough, but it’s passable in just about any car in dry weather.

The Navajo Nation will provide you with a map, when you enter the park, but it’s not a very good one.  I became confused, and a little concerned that I had missed the exit.  Your best bet is to pay close attention to the road at the start of the loop, so when you end up back at the beginning, you’ll know it.

More scenery…

The Three Sisters.

A typical view from the road.

A bounty of buttes.

Native Americans aren’t the only ones living in the park.  You’ll likely spot some horses…

… and even a few goats and chickens, when you pass by Navajo homes.

The Totem Pole & Yei Bi Chei

A view of Spearhead Mesa at Artist’s Point.

Leaving Monument Valley Tribal Park

Back on 163 now, and the sun is starting to set.

Look in your rear view mirror, as you make your way up 163 into Utah, and you’ll catch one more glimpse of Monument Valley.  The setting sun made it tough for me to capture the perfect picture here, but you gotta admit, if you gaze at this photo for a while, you’ll soon be yearning for the open road.

Note: This trip was first published in 2004.

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