Located at the border of Arizona and Utah, Monument Valley is one of the most iconic landscapes of the United States. However, its reputation is that “it is only some rocks in the middle of nowhere”. Is that true? Is Monument Valley worth it?
As a detour, on your own, or by joining a guided tour, Monument Valley is totally worth it. You can either drive through Monument Valley for free, in 3 hours for $20 per vehicle, or for a full day if you join a guided tour. The latter usually costs at least $100.
Is a Monument Valley guided tour worth the price?
If you plan on visiting Monument Valley, you may want to know more about guided tours. Indeed, there are several services in the area to both visit Monument Valley and discover the local culture of the Navajo Nation. But you may be afraid that this is a tourist trap. So, is a Monument Valley guided your worth the price?
Monument Valley Guided tours are definitely worth it if you can afford them. The prices range from $50 to 1,000. But you should pay between $100 and $150 to have an in-depth tour. Here is what you can expect for this kind of price range.
What can you expect during Monument Valley guided tours?
As mentioned in the latter paragraph, the prices can get pretty high! And the low-cost alternatives are sometimes disappointing. So, what can you expect during a $100-150 guided tour?
Here is a list of activities you can expect to do for this kind of price range.
Car tour in the valley
Typical dinner (Navajo tacos)
Explanations about the rock formations
Storytelling around a campfire
To know whether you want to pay the price or not, let’s detail those activities. First, the car tour in the valley is the most basic service. It is definitely what you are there for. The advantage of doing a car tour with locals is that they will take you to some secret spots you may not know about.
Sometimes, a local dinner is included. The tacos are the specialty of the area. It is a frybread with beans, meat, and vegetables (and it seems really tasty!). After dinner, the tour organizers usually propose activities such as traditional dances or storytelling around a campfire. They will tell you about the legends of the Navajos.
They will also give you explanations about the rock formations, just like the guides do in Antelope Canyon (I wrote an article about How Antelope Canyon formed, and it will definitely help you understand how Monument Valley formed).
Then, if you choose to pay for higher prices, you may have other kinds of activities, such as Monument Valley hot air balloons tours, or free camping services, RV camping park services, horseback riding, trails, hikes, jeep tours, lodging options, and so on.
To summarize, there will be added-value during this tour thanks to the knowledge of the tourers, but is it worth it? Well, only you can answer this question. To help you make up your mind, here is an example of a tour, which JetLag Warriors joined. I recommend that you watch it because it will help you to exactly see how this particular tour works!
Example : the dreamcatcher evening tour
To summarize this video, here is a price table of what it costs to join this Monument Valley tour.
A typical guided tour in Monument Valley costs $125 per person. Note that the park entrance fees ($20) were not taken into account
Is Monument Valley on your own worth it?
If you do not like joining guided tours, you can also visit Monument Valley on your own. But is it worth it? Can you access all the areas? Is the experience worse if you do not join a guided tour? Those are the questions I will answer right now. So? Is Monument Valley on your own worth it?
Monument Valley is definitely worth visiting on your own. You can access the majority of the scenic landscapes by paying the $20 park entrance fee. You can even enjoy 50% of the landscapes for free by driving through the U.S. Route 163. However, if you choose the latter option, you will not be able to get close to the monoliths.
Basically, you have got two options if you want Monument Valley on your own, you can either choose to visit it for free, or to visit it for $20/vehicule.
1st option : for free
The first option is the cheapest one: visiting Monument Valley for free. If you are currently road tripping in the West and you do not want to spend a lot, this could be a great option. Indeed, you can drive through the U.S. Route 163 and you will get most of the views.
The issue with that option is that you will not get into the local culture at all. For you, Monument Valley will just be rock monoliths in the middle of nowhere. You will not know how they formed, and you won’t embrace the Navajo culture. This is your choice.
2nd option : paying the park entrance fees
The second option is to pay the park entrance fees. It costs $20 per vehicle to enter Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This will give you access to a unique road to get closer to the huge rocks.
This video shows how the road was back in 2013. It seems like some parts have been renovated since then.
You can definitely spend several hours on this route enjoying the landscapes, whereas if you choose the free option, you won’t be able to do so. Indeed, it takes only 30 minutes from the moment you will see the Monuments appear and the moment you leave them in your rear mirror.
If you want a precise idea of how long it takes to drive through Monument Valley when you pay the park entrance fees, here is what is stated on AmericanSouthWest.net:
The drive is 17 miles long of which 13 miles is a one-way loop, and typical times for the full trip are 2 to 4 hours. 15 mph is the nominal speed limit, and some places are too rocky and bumpy to go any faster, though other sections are quite smooth (with a surface of hard-pressed sand), and up to 40 mph is possible.
The last question to answer is “What if you are in the Grand Canyon area, and you are trying to figure out if you should get to Monument Valley?” Well, this is exactly what we are going to discuss right now. So, is Monument Valley worth the detour?
Spending one day in Monument Valley for a detour is a great option if you are already in the area (during a road trip for instance). One day is enough time to make the detour worth it.
Visiting Monument Valley during a road trip
Visiting Monument Valley during a road trip is a great option because you will have trouble spending more than two days in the area. Indeed, the landscapes and the culture are both incredible. But, as a tourist, you will probably start getting bored after 2 days in the area.
Also, everything is pretty expensive in the area, so you should spend the right amount of time there, in order to spend the right amount of money.
Monument Valley is 2-hours away from Page and Antelope Canyon and 3-hours away from Grand Canyon. It is literally in the middle of nowhere, but getting there is relatively easy.
If that article helped you make up your mind, and if you are now ready to head to Monument Valley, I recommend that you check other information about it. The best piece of data I can give you for that is the Monument Valley Travel Guide from The Traveling Clatt.
In this video, Tal goes in-depth to explain everything about Monument Valley. From price to accommodations and food, he details his knowledge about this place to make sure you will be aware of what to expect.