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Take a ride through a national landmark that’ll take you right back to the Old West

Added July 16, 2019
Road leading into the desert

Monument Valley straddles the Utah and Arizona state lines and is located within the Navajo Nation Reservation. It’s west of the Four Corners area, where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet. Any motorcycle tour of the Four Corners should include this amazing natural wonder. Even if you’ve never been west of the Mississippi River, the scenic beauty will seem familiar. That’s because you’ve seen it in countless movies and other media.

From John Wayne to Easy Rider

Monument Valley has been the location for many famous movie westerns. In 1939, John Ford directed the movie “Stagecoach,” which launched John Wayne’s career. It was filmed around Goulding's Trading Post in Monument Valley. The timeless majesty of this landscape is often considered the image of the Wild West. Fast forward 30 years for what’s probably the most classic motorcycle movie of all time—1969’s “Easy Rider” filmed many scenes in Monument Valley.

Once you’re there, it’ll soon be evident that the natural colors really are as bright and deep as those in all the pictures. The valley isn’t a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide, flat—sometimes desolate—landscape, interrupted by crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air. They’re the last remnants of sandstone layers that once covered the entire region.

Remote desert landscape

The beauty of this area is its remote desert landscape and towering buttes that reach for the endless sky. The vistas you’ll see are vast. So are the distances you’ll ride. Your best plan is to carry water, snacks, and a full tank of gas.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Perhaps the best place to see Monument Valley and learn more about it and the Navajo Nation is the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Although much can be appreciated from the main road, a lot more of the landscape is hidden from view behind long, straight cliffs. This park is part of the Navajo Parks and Recreation system. You can arrange for guided tours by jeep or horseback, to give yourself a change of pace from riding your motorcycle along this scenic drive. During the summer, the on-site Haskenneini Restaurant offers native Navajo cuisine to complete your experience.

U.S. Route 163

Your gateway to Monument Valley is U.S. Route 163 (US163), which runs for 64 miles northeast from Kayenta, Arizona, toward Bluff, Utah. US163 connects with U.S. Route 191 (US191) just six miles southwest of Bluff. US163 is part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway.

Access from the south

To reach US163 from the south, start at Flagstaff along Interstate 40. It’ll be about a 150-mile ride to Kayenta. First, you’ll travel on U.S. Route 89 North, and then on U.S. Route 160 East.

Access from the north

Starting from the north at Crescent Junction along Interstate 70, take US191 South for about 136 miles to the juncture with US163 southwest of Bluff.

Park contact, schedule, and entry fee information

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
P.O. Box 360289
Monument Valley, UT 84536
Phone: 435-727-5874
Fax: 435-727-5875
Email: l_black@navajonationparks.org
Website: navajonationparks.org/tribal-parks/monument-valley/

Visitor center hours

April 1–September 30: 6 a.m.–8 p.m.
October 1–March 3: 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Scenic drive hours

April 1–September 30: 6 a.m.–7 p.m.
October 1–March 30: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Entry fee: $20 

Till next time, ride safe!

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Enjoy other historic, scenic rides—including the Lincoln Highway, the Loneliest Road in America, the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop, and California’s Rock Store.

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