Monument Valley is the ultimate travel destination. A bucket list item. A film set. A harsh yet inviting landscape that screams Americana. The true middle of nowhere in a country bursting with cities and towns all over.
Monument Valley is a sought after destination because of its endless landscapes, amazing rock formations and its vibrant reds and oranges – everywhere. If what you crave is to truly be out on your own it is here that you will find your retreat. If you want a road trip with a view, this is where you drive it. If you want to re-live an old day Western, or more modern day classic films, it all comes to life right here in front of you. So what are you waiting for?
Monument Valley sits on the Arizona-Utah border, (approx. 2.5 hours drive from Page), and can be found within the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park which belongs to Navajo Nation – one of the largest American Indian tribes in the United States. Driving is your best transport option to explore this region so hire a car and get yourself out there so you can learn the history, the culture and of course take in some amazing views when you visit.
Monument Valley’s Best Viewpoints
As Monument Valley is located within the Navajo Tribal Park, an entrance fee is required to be paid in order to enter – which is $20 per car (of 4 people). Children 6 and under are free. Whilst you can see the Monuments from afar and outside of the park, the best views of the valley are right here in the park and should not be missed.
If your car is of the jeep variety, you will be able to drive down into the Valley and explore a little further around the loop below (40 min drive – unless you stop). But if you have a basic sedan or 4 door car that is not good on a bumpy road – or don’t wish to risk it…don’t try going down there. I had a standard hire car which i drove from Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport Hub; and there was no chance I was going to ruin my car, or get stuck down there. It was extremely bumpy right from the entrance – so consider what your car (and stress level) can actually handle. Or book a guided tour so you need not worry about how to get down there at all.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park does have a visitor center and The View Hotel within it’s confines, which offers stunning views for every guest. But it is not the only place you can sleep when visiting this area, with the amazing Goulding’s Lodge a clear front runner for me in having more space, value for money, modern amenities and amazing views – which really made me wish I was staying longer than just one night.
Why You Should Stay At Goulding’s Lodge, Monument Valley
Being in such an isolated place, accommodation options are very limited in Monument Valley – unless you only plan to detour through here in the space of a day and stay elsewhere. If you are going to come all the way into Monument Valley, why wouldn’t you enjoy as much of it as you can by experiencing the sun setting and rising right here? I can guarantee you will be surrounded by the lushest colour of reds and oranges you will ever see in your lifetime.
Goulding’s Lodge offers different types of accommodation, just like The View. However, I found Goulding’s a lot more enticing because it wasn’t right in the thick of Tribal park. I felt like even though I was within a large accommodation, I was still isolated enough from everyone (or just the usual throng of people) to really enjoy this escape. Be on my own.
Goulding’s offers guests the choice of 63 standard lodge rooms, 68 suites, and 15 different house or apartment units, which include access to an indoor pool, seasonal sun deck, complimentary wifi, dining room, historical museum, gift shop, gas station and convenience store. There is also an RV Park and Campground available which includes RV hookup, complimentary wifi, hot showers and access to all the amenities that are available to other guests within the lodge.
During my stay, I booked a one bedroom suite with kitchen for $159 plus 10.45% tax for a stay in April. I did book about 2 weeks before my trip, so prices would have been a little cheaper had I worked my itinerary out further ahead, but considering you are out in the middle of nowhere, this was a great price to have my own suite, rather than just a lodge room.
Goulding’s one bedroom suite with kitchen offered 2 beds (sleeping 4 people); with one bed located in the living area of the suite and one bed in the bedroom at the back of the suite. The bathroom was very modern and the kitchen was a nice touch to have available. I bought groceries in Page before I left, and cooked myself dinner so I was able to relax a little more than heading out for dinner alone, so I really enjoyed this inclusion.
There is a dining table, a couch and a television with cable. Outside, the suite has its own balcony and suites sit on a higher level then those which are located in front of them – ensuring that everyone gets a perfect view from their balconies with no obstructions.
This stay at Goulding’s Lodge was one the best I have ever had, showing that you don’t have to rough it in the middle of nowhere – if you don’t want to.
Forrest Gump US Highway 163
It isn’t often that such an isolated place is a well known filming location. But on US Highway 163 between Monument Valley and Mexican Hat is one the more remembered scenes in cinematic history: Forrest Gump taking the longest run ever across America – yet stopping and deciding to go back home right here.
Other films have been shot here too – with so many Westerns shot here over the decades. You really do feel like a cowboy will trot along on a horse along this landscape.
Driving from Monument Valley along Highway 163 towards Mexican Hat, it’s at Mile Marker 13 that you will see the Forrest Gump view. If you want to be exact, some lovely person has erected a sign stating “Forrest Gump ended his cross country run at this spot.” The 1980 is in reference to what period the run took place in the film (as the film was released in 1994). This sign is located on the left hand side of the road…but many people miss it because it is slightly camouflaged due to its colour against the landscape – I had to point out the sign to a number of people as we all stood here taking photos. Thank god I did, because they all were excited to remember this iconic moment when they realised.
As you can see, there is so much to enjoy about Monument Valley and its surrounding areas.
Whether you’re there to see the beauty of it all, to have a peaceful escape or to stalk a filming location…Monument Valley is the ultimate travel destination.
If you’re ticking off a bucket list…this should be at the very top.
What are your thoughts on visiting here? Have you been – and did you love it as much as I did? Tell me below!