Visiting Monument Valley is definitely a top destination for most people who are planning a tour of the West Coast. Besides being a true masterpiece of nature, its fame has grown out of all proportion since director John Ford immortalized it, when it appeared for the first time in a movie in his film Red Shadows (starring John Wayne). The importance of the American director’s work is underlined by the fact that the John Ford Point, one of the most famous and appreciated observation points in the area, is dedicated to his memory.
How do I organize a tour of Monument Valley? You may ask. To answer this question you must first decide how you want to visit it. You are faced with two options, either you do it on your own or you take a guided tour. We will now try to evaluate the pros and cons of the two choices and look at all the Monument Valley tours from which you can choose.
- Why Choose a Guided Tour?
- Tours Departing from Monument Valley
- Tours Departing from Flagstaff and Sedona
- Tours departing from Phoenix
- Combined Tour Departing from Las Vegas
Why Choose a Guided Tour?
If you are tourists who want to make a self guided tour of Monument Valley, doing everything independently without a guided excursion, you will find many tips in our article on how to visit Monument Valley. Surely the advantage of this option is that it allows you to be completely autonomous, but there are also some disadvantages. First of all, you may need the proper car (SUV, or something similar), because Valley Drive is not maintained well, and in some places, it’s quite bumpy.
To tell the truth, the road is still passable even with cars that are not four-wheel drive, but it is a very personal choice. For example, I didn’t feel comfortable (probably nothing would have happened, but if something were to happen, it could have spelled disaster for my vacation) and after giving it some thought, I preferred not to take the risk. If you want to learn about additional factors to consider when planning a trip to Monument Valley, you can also take a look at our article dedicated to the climate of Monument Valley.
Here are the advantages of a guided tour:
- If you choose a guided tour of Monument Valley, first of all, there will be a guide available to assist you. This is certainly a good thing, since you will be accompanied by someone who knows the area very well and can show you all the secrets and curiosities of the valley, so you don’t necessarily have to study up beforehand what you are going to visit. Remember that these places have a great spiritual value for the Navajo and it is very interesting to learn about their stories and beliefs.
- An organized tour also gives you the chance to get some rest. Maybe you have already spent many hours driving to Monument Valley, and will have a long drive waiting afterwards to reach the next destination. When organizing a road trip, this is always an important element to take into account, especially if your starting point is not Monument Valley but cities like Flagstaff, Phoenix, Sedona or even Las Vegas.
- Organized tours will allow you to enjoy truly unique experiences, such as joining Monument Valley horseback tours or seeing views on trails that otherwise would be inaccessible if you were going along Valley Drive on your own.
On the other hand, you may need to take into account may be the cost of the tour, but this is something that only you can judge. So let’s see which tours are available by dividing them according to the place of departure.
Tours Departing from Monument Valley
The meeting point of these tours is from the parking lot of The View Hotel, which is located at the beginning of Valley Drive. The price of these tours does not include admission to Monument Valley, which you can pay upon arrival at the park. With regard to the times that the tours are scheduled, we recommend that you pay close attention to the unique time zone of Arizona and the Navajo Nation in order to avoid unpleasant misunderstandings. In order to get to the tour on time, we recommend that you arrive at least 15 minutes before the departure of each tour.
Monument Valley Safari
As you can easily guess from the name of this tour, you can visit Monument Valley riding in a classic safari jeep. You can choose between a 2.5 hour or 3.5 hour tour. Either way, you’ll be accompanied by a local Navajo guide. The main difference is that with the longer tour, in addition to covering the entire scenic loop of Monument Valley, you will also visit the Yazzie family home, a hogan (the traditional Navajo house), where you will see a live demonstration of local culture and traditions. Departure times for this tour are 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm.
3-Hour Tour of Monument Valley at Sunrise or Sunset
You can choose to take this 3-hour tour at sunrise or sunset to see the beautiful colors of Monument Valley at these times of the day. Your guide will take you to the most beautiful spots in the area, namely, John Ford’s Point, Big Hogan, Totem Pole, Sun’s Eye and many others. When you buy the tour you will have to choose the day to do it.
90-Minute Tour of Monument Valley
This tour is ideal for those who – by choice or necessity – do not have a lot of time to spend visiting Monument Valley. In fact, the tour will only take 90 minutes to ride the entire length of Valley Drive, allowing you to admire all the essential glimpses to get a satisfactory overview of the valley. You will go to John Ford’s Point, Totem Pole and you will still have the opportunity to photograph the West and East Mittens from a different angle, as well as the Merrick Butte. There are six tours that start during the day (8:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm).
Mystery Valley Tour in Lower Monument Valley
Even if it’s not really a tour of Monument Valley, I thought it was worth mentioning it anyway, because it will take you to discover a less frequented (and maybe for someone more fascinating) part of the area. We are talking about Mystery Valley, in the Lower Monument Valley region, to which we dedicated a separate article -> Mystery Valley. You will discover the former dwellings of the Anasazi in the rock faces and visit the beautiful Honeymoon Arch in the company of a guide who will share the history and mysteries of this area. There are two tours throughout the day, one at 11:00 am and one at 2:00 pm, and they last about 3.5 hours.
In Lower Monument Valley, you will also find Hunts Mesa, a plateau that gives you a unique view of the valley below, that we described in another article -> Hunts Mesa. The area is very remote and the only way to visit it is through a Navajo guided tour that will allow you, not only to visit this area that does not see as much tourism, but also to spend the night camping on the plateau. Departure is about 5 hours before sunset from the parking lot of The View (but there is also the option to get picked-up from the main hotels in Kayenta). You will arrive at the plateau is about two hours before sunset. While you are taking all your photos, the guide will take care of setting up the area for the night. In the morning, you can admire the beautiful landscape at sunrise!
In addition to the tours that we have described, there are others managed directly by the Navajo Indians, which will give you the opportunity, for example, to go horseback riding along the trails of the Monument Valley. You can find all the information about these tours by visiting their official website, although in many cases you can book your tour only by phone or email, without receiving much additional information before the tour.
Tours Departing from Flagstaff and Sedona
The pretty city of Flagstaff, located along Route 66 in Arizona, is used by many travelers as an intermediate point to visit either the Grand Canyon or the Monument Valley. Therefore, as you are planning your itinerary, it may be useful to consider this tour, which will allow you to visit the Monument Valley with a guide and return to Flagstaff on the same day. The tour also offers pick-up service from the main hotels in the city. Departure is around 7:00 am (depending on the hotel where you are staying) and you will return at around 6:00 pm. The price includes bottled water but not lunch, which you will have to pay separately either at Goulding’s Trading Post or The View.
If you are staying in the nearby town of Sedona, you can advantage of this tour as well. Simply indicate Sedona as your place of departure when you book the tour.
Tours departing from Phoenix
Although Phoenix, Arizona’s capital city, is quite far from Monument Valley (about a 5-hour drive), there are two tours that depart from here. Let’s look at the details of these tours.
Air Tour and Jeep Tour of the Monument Valley
With this tour, you will fly over many of the most beautiful areas of Arizona. Starting from Phoenix’s Deer Valley Airport, you will have the opportunity to see the beautiful Tonto National Forest and the incredible red rocks surrounding Sedona from above. You will fly over the Grand Canyon, Marble Canyon and the beautiful Vermilion Cliffs before stopping for a break in the city of Page. Once back on the plane, you’ll fly over the Glen Canyon Dam area, the Wahweap Marina and other views formed by Lake Powell. Before you land near Monument Valley, you’ll also have the chance to see the fascinating Rainbow Bridge rock formation from above.
Unfortunately, you will not be flying over the entire Monument Valley area, but you will have the opportunity to visit it, once you land, with a 4×4 vehicle that will take you to see the characteristic rock formations of the valley. Once the tour is over, you will have lunch at Goulding’s Lodge, which is included in the price, before resuming your flight back to Phoenix. The entire tour lasts approximately 8 hours and does not include hotel pick-up service, which can be arranged for an additional fee. A contribution of approximately $20 for fuel will be added to the total price. The aircraft used for this tour are all high wing planes, which will allow you to enjoy the view from your windows without being obstructed by the airplane’s wings.
5-Day Tour Exploring Native American Cultures
In addition to the air tour we just described, there is another tour of Monument Valley departing from Phoenix that provides full immersion in Native American cultures. It is in fact a 5-day trip through the wonders of Arizona.
On the first day, you will be taken to Sedona, where you will take part in a jeep excursion to discover the mysterious energy vortices in the area. The second day will be dedicated to visiting the Grand Canyon National Park. On the third day, you will visit Monument Valley, where you will also see a live demonstration in the Navajo hogan. On the fourth day, you will visit the Homolovi Ruins, the Hopi Cultural Center and the Walpi village in the First Mesa. The last day is dedicated to returning to Phoenix. The price of the tour includes pick-up from the hotels, 4 nights at the hotel, jeep tours and excursion to the Monument Valley, plus all entrance fees to the places you will visit. Meals are not included.
Combined Tour Departing from Las Vegas
There is also a tour of Monument Valley starting from the city of Las Vegas. Also, in this case, it will not be an excursion dedicated exclusively to visiting the valley, but it will include a three-day itinerary that will give you the opportunity to discover the best places to visit in Arizona and Nevada.
In addition to Monument Valley, you will be able to visit Antelope Canyon, the natural wonders of Sedona, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell and Valley of Fire. Included in the price of the tour is a guided tour, transport in a 15 -passenger van or bus (depending on request), two nights in a hotel with breakfast included, a jeep tour of Monument Valley with lunch and access to the facilities you will visit. Not included in the price are pick-up service and lunches when not specifically mentioned.