The “classic” views seen on a road trip to the West Coast are countless and that of the so-called Forrest Gump Point (or Forrest Gump Hill) is certainly one of the most popular and recognizable views; near this famous viewpoint, it is very likely that you will find some tourists waiting for you to drive by to be able to stand in the middle of the road and take the iconic picture, the shot that best captures one of the most striking views of the entire Southwest.
Despite the popularity of this photo spot, there are many road trippers who miss it, even though they are just a stone’s throw away… and this is mainly due to the fact that most of the standard routes to reach Monument Valley do not pass by this magnificent viewpoint.
Nevertheless, as we will see, making a small detour to reach Forrest Gump Point is not complicated at all… so let’s figure out where it is, how to include it in your itinerary and how to organize yourself so that you will be in the right place at the right time.
What is Forrest Gump Point?
As I have already mentioned, Forrest Gump Point is a scenic point that can also be seen directly from the car. It is characterized by a long straight road that runs towards a hill, on top of which sits the majestic profile of Monument Valley, the famous Navajo Tribal Park that, with its towering reddish rocks, frames the surrounding desert plain, thus creating an evocative landscape and exemplary image of the Far West (tip: when you’re in the area, turn on your car radio and play a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone from a Western movie).
This viewpoint gained considerable popularity after Robert Zemeckis used it for a scene in his film Forrest Gump, when the character played by Tom Hanks, after running for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours, suddenly decided to stop, leaving his faithful followers astonished.
In memory of the famous Forrest Gump running scene, there is a sign with the words “Forrest Gump finished his run at this point, 1980” (I also found a pair of shoes next to it…).
Where did Forrest Gump stop running? Location and Directions
Forrest Gump Point is located on Highway 163 Scenic Drive (also known as Forrest Gump Road or Forrest Gump Highway), in Mexican Hat County, just outside of Monument Valley. The exact point you can enter in your GPS is 37°06’09.5″N 109°59’21.1″W. However, you can simply type Forrest Gump Point (or Forrest Gump Hill) in Google Maps and you will easily find it.
Coming from Moab
You usually pass through this point when you are traveling from Utah (Moab), after visiting Arches and Canyonlands, in the direction of Monument Valley. In this case, you’ll find Forrest Gump Point right on the road, just before you get to Monument Valley, of which this viewpoint is a splendid foretaste.
But what if you are traveling on a route that doesn’t include Moab? In this case (unfortunately, this includes most people), you will reach the famous Navajo Tribal Park from the south, without passing through Forrest Gump Point, and since Forrest Gump Point is outside Monument Valley you will miss it completely…
Coming from the Grand Canyon and Page
In other words, if you arrive in Monument Valley from the Grand Canyon or Page (the most likely routes) you won’t pass Forrest Gump Point. But don’t worry, even if passing up seeing the beautiful landscapes in Moab is almost a crime, you can still find a way to see at least this viewpoint made famous by Zemeckis movie. Here’s how to get there:
Once you’ve reached the Navajo Tribal Park you’ll have to go straight for just over 12 miles, turn around at the valley (the view will be behind you) and enjoy the view. Then you can follow the same road to reach the entrance to the park. Calculate about 15-20 minutes to drive from the entrance of Monument Valley to Forrest Gump Point.
Best Time to Visit and Photograph It
If you can, I suggest you to plan the trip so that you can pass Forrest Gump Point in a moment that fully enhances its beauty. I have passed by Forrest Gump Point in the morning, in the afternoon and at sunset and from my experience, I can tell you that the best time to go is definitely the first, when the light illuminates Monument Valley and you can distinguish well the colors of the rocky monuments in the background of this unforgettable panorama.
Also, when you compare pictures from different times of day, the difference is remarkable, as you can see below. The first photo was taken shortly after 3:00 pm, while the second one was taken around 8:30 am.
In the morning, the sunlight brightens the landscape and, if you arrive early, you will find even fewer cars along the way. In the afternoon or late evening, the profile of Monument Valley will be in the shade, which makes it less photogenic.
Nearby Attractions and Where to Stay
To conclude, I would like to quickly mention an attraction near Forrest Gump Point that is very often underestimated. In addition to Monument Valley here in the area you’ll also find Goosenecks State Park, similar to Horseshoe Bend, but with three bends in the river, carved out by the San Juan River. For those who like to visit the most remote places I recommend two other particularly scenic valleys, which are Mystery Valley and Valley of the Gods.
To better organize yourself for an overnight stay in this area you can read my guide on where to stay in Monument Valley.