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Monument Valley Safari Happenings

Monument Valley Safari Blog, learn more about monument valley, our tours and much more!

Movies Shot in Monument Valley

Monument Valley has had a long history on the silver screen. The picturesque horizons and desert atmosphere made Monument Valley the ideal candidate for many early Western movies. In fact, it has been filmed in at least 19 films ranging from Westerns, to comedies, to sci-fi’s.




Probably the most important movie filmed in Monument Valley was John Ford’s 1939 film “Stagecoach”. This Western starred John Wayne and inspired a multitude of future films to shoot their movies in Monument Valley. Director John Ford even shot nine additional times in Monument Valley after this initial shoot.


The Eiger Sanction


The 1975 Clint Eastwood film was made partially in Monument Valley. Both Clint Eastwood and George Kennedy were filmed on top the Totem Pole which has since been restricted to the public for climbing purposes.


Thelma and Louise


Ridley Scott’s 1991 flick, “Thelma and Louise”, features two friends on a fishing trip. The trip goes south when Louise shoots someone. During the film, featured shots of Monument Valley are shown as Thelma and Louise travel on their journey.


Other Notable Movies


The iconic 1983 Harold Ramis film, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” features scenes of Monument Valley. In “Back to the Future: Part III”, protagonist Marty McFly uses a drive-in theatre at the base of Monument Valley to travel through time. The wildly popular film, “Forrest Gump” has a very climactic scene in which Gump ends his cross-country run in Monument Valley. The 2000 sequel, “Mission: Impossible II” shows actor Tom Cruise climbing Monument Valley. In 2013, “The Lone Ranger” film starring Johnny Depp features numerous scenes filmed in Monument Valley. Two films in 2014, “A Thousand Ways to Die in the West” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction” both have scenes shot in Monument Valley.


In addition to filmed movies, a couple of animated films also replicate Monument Valley. The 2006 animated film “Cars” creates the fictional, “Ornament Valley” which is a popular tourist destination where the peaks of the monuments look like the hood ornaments of cars. More recently, in 2014, “The Lego Movie” depicts Monument Valley early on in the film.


However many movies you watch featuring scenes of Monument Valley, they simply will only pale in comparison to seeing if for yourself. Contact Monument Valley Safari at 435-727-3340 to book your tour today.

5 of the best tours of Monument Valley

Mystery Valley


We offer two different scenic and cultural tours of Mystery Valley; a three hour, 27 mile tour and a four hour, 38 mile tour. Mystery Valley is a labyrinth of canyons hiding away some of the oldest history in America. Anasazi ruins can be seen with petroglyphs and pictographs.


During the three hour tour you can expect to visit secluded areas of valley containing natural arches such as Skull Arch, Honey Moon Arch, and Lone Pine Arch.


The four hour tour is consistently rated one of the best tours. This holistic safari offers a very strong cultural perspective as you traverse incredible landscapes and ruins.




This three hour tour lets you see Monument Valley in the dark. If you want to capture the gorgeous landscape in the best lighting, you want to take this tour. View the pristine vistas of Monument Valley as the sun sets during the Starlight Tour. Additionally, you will be witness to incredibly starry sky reaching over the plateaus and buttes.




The Full-Moon tour is similar to the Starlight tour, however it has one differing factor. There must be a full moon out. These tours are taken on specific dates to coincide with the full moon. Combining the moonlight of a full moon and the silhouetted landscape is a photographer and outdoor lover’s dream. You won’t find this type of scenery anywhere else.




Hunts Mesa is a seven hour photographer tour at sunset. Hunt’s Mesa is the hidden gem of Monument Valley. This journey is not easy to make and can be impossible in the rain, so scheduling for availability is necessary. The scenery is incredible and ideal shooting conditions during the tour allow for amazing photographic opportunities.


Custom Tour


Monument Valley Safari has the unique opportunity of offering you private tours. These personal, intimate excursions can be customized to your own interests. Pick and choose from what interests you, whether that is history, archaeology, photography, art, ethnology, or something entirely different.


Custom safaris can be taken in Lower Monument Valley, Mystery Valley, or any other areas in the Navajo Tribal Park.


Regardless of which tour you choose, you can expect to enjoy yourself thoroughly. Contact Monument Valley Safari at 435-727-3340 to book your tour today.


What is Monument Valley, Utah?


monument valley tour

Monument Valley is a world famous location found in San Juan County of the state of Utah. It has been said to be a very iconic symbol of the American West. It has been used in several movies and is one of the most photographed locations in the entire world.

The valley is so unique because it is made up of a collection of vast sandstone buttes. These extremely isolated hills stand as high as 1,000 feet above the valley's floor and somewhere 5,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level. Each butte adds an amazing amount of character to the valley and each have three principal layers. These layers are Organ Rock Shale, de Chelly Sandstone and Shinarump Conglomerate.

The floor of valley is made up of siltstone from the Cutler Group. Exposure of the weathers siltstone to the iron oxide gives the valley a vibrant red color that floors throughout it. Manganese oxide gives the rocks in the valley a dark blue and grey color.

Found on the state line between Arizona and Utah, the valley is defined by many things. These things include the Navajo Indian Nation and the Four Corner's Monument. The valley surrounds the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which is much like a national park. The Four Corner's Monument is a popular area, because it is the only place in all of the United Stated where four states come together a meet at one point.

This has wonderful places for great hikes and a very large visitor center that includes restaurants. The visitor center offers guided tours through the monument. Tour guides escort visitors through the valley while riding in jeeps. With these tours visitors are able to see places they could normally not see otherwise like the Hunts Mesa and Mystery Valley. The restaurants serve both American cuisine and also specialize in native Navajo cuisines.

Visiting the valley is a full experience. Driving up to the valley, one will run into Navajo vendors. These vendors sell things like crafts, native food, souvenirs and art at roadside stands. From the moment one arrives to the moment one leaves it is an inspirational place and definitely work a visit.

monument valley tour

Places To Stay On Your Monument Valley Tour

places to stay in monument valley

Whatever your taste in accommodation, there is a place for you in the various accommodation places in and around Monument Valley. For some people hitting the road is a spur of the moment thing, they jump into their car and away they go, no forward planning, no itinerary and no idea where they are going to sleep tonight. For others, a road trip is a carefully planned mission, done well in advance and they know where they are going to sleep on every night they are away from home. We appreciate that people have different choices and we all work in different way. However, this article is going to show you there are options available when it comes to sorting out your bed for the night when you visit Monument Valley.

  1. Kayenta Monument Valley Inn located within an hour’s drive from Monument Valley (it’s just 23 miles away), the Kayenta Monument Valley Inn is the ideal place if you are not prepared to sacrifice your home comforts. The inn has been decorated to create an authentic Native American feel and is comfortably furnished. Family rooms are also available and so are the following:


  • High speed wireless internet access so you can share your road trip photos with family and friends
  • Outdoor heated pool where you can relax after a long day in the Valley

  • Onsite fitness suiteA restaurant serving Native American cuisine as well as traditional American favorites

  1. Goulding’s Lodge right on the doorstep of Monument Valley this family friendly lodge is well equipped to make your stay, however long, comfortable and enjoyable. Most of the rooms have splendid views of the monuments from within and if you are lucky you could be well placed to enjoy a stunning sunset or sunrise right from your room. If you are on a family vacation then the larger suites or houses will be ideal. Have all your family stay in one suite, cook all your meals alone and enjoy your home away from home. Other facilities available include all year round indoor swimming pool, fitness suite and a shop selling handmade Navajo jewelry and other items perfect as gifts. Goulding's also offer a campground where you have a view of Monument Vally from the steps of your RV and if you prefer camping then the campground is ideal for that too.

  2. The View Hotel located in the heart of Monument Valley, the View Hotel commands some of the most impressive views from any one location in all of Monument Valley. Opened in 2008, the hotel has been carefully designed in order to nestle comfortably into the striking environment with detracting from the stunning natural beauty which surrounds it. If you are a budding photographer The View is the perfect hotel for you to enjoy the splendor of Monument Valley. Our top floor rooms offer you the opportunity to capture the unadulterated starlit skies, while each room has its own private eastern facing balcony. The interior of The View is complimentary to its native Navajo surroundings, each room is decorated with authentic Navajo rugs, fabrics and decorations. During your stay you can enjoy all the modern comforts such as flat screen TVs, in room refreshments and wireless internet. If you are a fitness fanatic the hotel also features a gym with beautiful views to enjoy while you burn away those calories.

Although this article has focused more on the hotels in and around Monument Valley other accommodation options are also available. Camping is a great way to enjoy Monument Valley if the outdoors are more your thing. Monument Valley Safari also have a starlight excursion tour of the valley where you will, depending on cloud cover, enjoy Monument Valley in the dark. Several camping grounds within driving distance of Monument Valley include the following:

  • Navajo Tribal Park

  • Mitten View campground

  • Gooseneck's of San Juan


Whatever your sleeping arrangement, Monument Valley Safari will ensure that you enjoy the attractions in your own way. Book your tour today by calling us on 928.209.1364 or visit our booking form



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