Monument Valley is a beautiful red-sand Navajo Tribal Park located on the border of Utah and Arizona and spans part of both states. It is most famous for the three huge sandstone buttes pictured below: the Merrick Butte and West and East Mitten Buttes. I have to say that Monument Valley is an amazing place to visit in person because you get to see just how big these rock formations really are. It truly puts into perspective how vast our world is, and how small we are!
Monument Valley is a 5-square mile park that has views and roads for days; however, there is only one trail that you are allowed to hike on your own there and it’s called Wildcat Loop Trail. It is definitely worth doing if you visit Monument Valley because any other hiking trails in the park require a tour guide and fee. You can also choose to cruise around the park in your car on a 17-mile scenic drive with stops at different rock formations. We chose to hike Wildcat Loop and drive around a few miles after to see a bit more.
- Difficulty: Easy-moderate
- Length: 4 mile loop
- Elevation gain: 387′
- Dog Friendly: Yes
- Trailhead: Wildcat Trail, Oljato-Monument Valley, AZ 84536
- $20 park entrance fee (National Park pass NOT accepted)
- ONLY self-guided hiking trail
- Open 6 am- 8 pm May-September; 8 am- 5 pm October-April
You can find the trailhead to the right of The View Campground. We parked along the road, but if you can’t find a spot there, you can always park in the big lot by the hotel and walk to the trail.
The trail is well marked with arrows and signs pointing you in the right direction. Although there was no water when we were there, it appeared that during rainy times of the year there may be water crossings so the trail bypasses those areas. The trail is sandy throughout and has slight inclines and declines, but nothing too crazy.
The whole time you have a view of the buttes with a different one in focus depending on where you are. As you can see, we were lucky because the trail was mostly empty while we were there!
The trail makes a loop around the buttes and you can see other huge rock formations in the distance as well!
We were still hiking as the sun was starting to set behind the buttes and it was a gorgeous sight to see.
As we made our way back, we met up with the same trail we started on to get back to the car. It was the perfect way to stretch our legs after a long car ride and see Monument Valley by foot!
THINGS TO KNOW:
- Wildcat Loop Trail is the only trail you can hike by foot in the park without a tour guide.
- You can CAMP in Monument Valley! We didn’t get to camp there on this trip, but here’s some info about what is available there:
- Goulding’s Campground is dog friendly and offers both tent and RV sites starting at $16. There are hot showers available as well as WiFi.
- The View Campground is non-dog friendly, but offers tent campsites, RV sites and cabins. You are able to make a reservation online or by calling (435) 727-5802.
- I have also heard that you are able to primitive camp within the park and can call directly to make those reservations!
- You DO NOT need a 4WD vehicle to drive the self-guided tour. We were able to get around in our 2WD truck and saw many people driving smaller cars as well! Just make sure to take it slow and have a somewhat durable vehicle 🙂
So next time you find yourself in AZ or UT, make a stop at Monument Valley and take in the beauty of the red rocks, ideally at sunrise or sunset!