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Old 05-24-2011, 09:48 AM
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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I'm thinking about making a trip up to Monument Valley for a night or two to hike, explore and maybe camp. I've been reading the official site and permits are required for every aspect of any visit. They are not expensive but it looks like permits are needed for various different locations. I know next to nothing about monument valley and am reluctant about planning a trip on the fly and taking a gamble on which locations to get permits for. I guess I could just get permits for everything as it wouldn't cost too much and I could operate on the fly when I'm up there.

Any recommendations on certain locations and destinations up there that are better than others? Seems like a bit of a hassle with all the paperwork and permits but the location is beautiful and I'd love too see locations from The Searchers and Electra Glide in Blue.
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Old 05-24-2011, 10:04 AM
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I only stayed up there for a night and it was stunning- however, it was in winter and I had a 1 yr old with me so we weren't out for adventuring

From my understanding, since this is all tribal land the options for independent exploring of most of the area really isn't high.

There is on trail that leaves from the visitor center that you can hike independtly around one of the mittens and back - i didn't see anyone head out for that, I was tempted but again really couldn't

There is also a self guided drive, which we didn't do

We did see the occasional jeep going on some of the trails at various times - parts of organized tours

From reading some of the stuff up there it seems like there are a lot of experience options - but most will cost you and will include your very own navajo guide

I don't believe there is any camping that is really available near the buttes, unless you sign up for one of the experiences

If you have a couple days to spend I'd definitely do it though - that whole area was amazing - the drive from monument valley up to bluff, UT is gorgeous and you are within easy exploring distance of canyonlands national park, glen canyon, etc which will have more typical opportunities for camping, hiking, etc
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Old 05-24-2011, 07:00 PM
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I think it'd be OK to just show up at the official Visitor Center, get your bearings there, and then decide what permits, tours, offerings you want to participate in and get them right there....I presume you can set stuff up on short notice since so many tourists probably show up in the same manner without concrete plans.....may be busy this time of year, though.....

we visited the area many years ago and did the self-guided driving trip on dirt roads that wound thru the area....this may've changed since that time....we did stop at a hogan and a native woman dressed to the nines posed with her sheep for us to take pictures - for a fee.....no big deal.....

keep in mind that the natives are typically laid-back and relaxed....slow down and don't be impatient.....

if camping is hard to arrange, drive several miles further to Mexican Hat, cross the San Juan River, and you'll be back out of the "rez"....and if you have some extra time, drive beyond Mexican Hat, turn N on UT 261 and drive up the unpaved (but fine for passenger cars) Moqui Dugway to the top for one of the greatest views in the West (and I've seen a lot of them!).....and if your vehicle can handle it, drive about five miles W from the top of the dugway to Muley Point for an even better view and primitive camping possibilities....Goosenecks State Park, UT, also has primitive camping and famous views....

it's all one of the best areas in the country....

EDIT: Goulding's and The View are two hotels in Monument Valley if you want to stay that way....and there are a couple or three decent places in Kayenta, the nearby town.....none of these will be an utter bargain, though.....

Last edited by azdr0710; 05-24-2011 at 07:16 PM..
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Old 05-24-2011, 09:22 PM
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Great post, azdr .
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:32 AM
Location: Green Valley, AZ
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We were there in 2009. They still let you drive your personal vehicle through the park for a nominal fee. It's definitely best to take a 4x4 because those back roads can be very sandy and having the extra clearance never hurts. Otherwise you might be better off hanging back at the visitor center. We spent 2 nights in Kayenta. There were not very many options out there for lodging. We weren't looking to rough it at the time so I'm not familiar with campgrounds in the area. Considering it's 99% Indian Territory out there, it's not very well developed.
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Old 09-29-2013, 01:17 AM
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I'm bumping this thread since I am going to MV next month. Mexican Hat UT has far better amenities for such a tiny town than Kayenta. Kayenta is a sleepy town with cookie cutter accommodations like The Hampton and overpriced at that. Since Mexican Hat is off the rez, you can get liquor and beer at the San Juan Inn Trading Post/Hotel and beer and awesome rib eyes at The Swingin' Steak just down the road.
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Old 09-30-2013, 06:10 PM
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In the 1950's it was empty,no people...Native Americans yes...but no loud Europeans and crowds of Americans.
I cannot describe Monument Valley then..........or even now.It must be seen when almost no one is there....except the sun,the buttes,mesas,blue sky and you...alone with God.

I want to thank the Navajo Americans for taking me back into the "awe"of their burial place.Thank you for 50 years of your time.
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Old 10-01-2013, 04:16 PM
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> no loud Europeans and crowds of Americans.

Umm, I think you have that backwards. Everywhere I have been the Americans have been the loud ones.
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Old 10-03-2013, 04:23 PM
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You'll love it!! It's great. Pay a Navajo guide and they will enertain you all day. We'd like to go back.
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Old 10-04-2013, 02:12 PM
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I was the Head Football coach ay Monument Valley H S for a number of years. Ths Navajo people are quite friendly but you must watch out when you go at night. The Yonogloshi or Skinwalkers are a real sect although comprise a small number in the population. I was there when one of the Mormon Tribal Elders shot one and the Elder was supported by the great majority of the folks who attended the Chapter House meeting.
Worse than that is Chees's jungle which is the bootlegger area. The res is dry, but you can find folks, including Navajo Police, drinking beer in their cars.
That said, the huge majority of folks are friendly and helpful. The family living across the road from El Cap are well educated and several of the son's have graduated from NAU. You want to visit Shonto, Betatakin, Chinle, and then go across the Utah side and visit Gouldings Lodge. John Ford hung out there when making movie.
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