The itinerary da Grand Canyon a Monument Valley (or vice versa) is very common in classic tours of the American West parks: the two parks in question are essential stops for anyone who wants to see with their own eyes typical views of the Far West, and their relative proximity means that in one way or another we find ourselves having to organize with great attention the move, the overnight stay and any intermediate stops between the two most important parks in Arizona.
- Distance between Monument Valley and Grand Canyon
- The attractions on the route
- Baby Rocks e Church Rock
- Navajo National Monument
- Elephant Feet Area
- Coal Mine Canyon
- Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks
- Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park
- Visit Monument Valley and Grand Canyon in one day: can it be done?
- Where to sleep between the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley
Distance between Monument Valley and Grand Canyon
290 km approximately separate the Grand Canyon from Monument Valley. This distance can be covered without a break in 3.20 hours along a somewhat monotonous road in the desert, which I will briefly illustrate in the next paragraph. The count of hours, however, can reserve some surprises: if you come from Monument Valley, you will gain an hour thanks to the special time zone of the Navajo Nation. If, on the other hand, you take the opposite route, obviously you will have to take into account that you will have an hour less.
Coming from Monument Valley, after Kayenta take US-160 W and follow it to Tuba City. The last stretch of road takes place on US-89 up to the junction with AZ-64 W. After about 50 km this road becomes the desert view proper, the scenic route that runs along the South Rim.
If you are coming from the Grand Canyon ... If you are going the other way around and - before heading west to Zion / Bryce / Las Vegas - plan to visit both Page and Monument Valley, don't make the mistake of go first to Page and then to Monument Valley! Often in the itineraries you submit to me in the comments you ask me if it makes sense to do so, perhaps deceived by the fact that Page is closer than the Monument: in my opinion it is a mistake, because the Monument is further east and reaching it later would force you to lengthen significantly the journey.
The correct sequence of stages is: Grand Canyon - Monument Valley - Bryce - Zion - Las Vegas.
The attractions on the route
As always, thanks to a few detours, the route can give satisfactions and considerably enrich theon the road experience: I will give you some suggestions in this sense, describing the places of interest that can be visited along the way. If you have a little more time available and are enticed by lesser known natural beauties than the two famous parks of Arizona, then you can follow the following itinerary, which includes 4-5 very interesting stops and often ignored by travelers.
Baby Rocks e Church Rock
First interesting stop to do after Monument Valley is Baby Rocks, a spectacular landscape of red rock vaguely resembling Bryce Canyon, which rises in the middle of the desert just a stone's throw from the road. After leaving Monument Valley behind you at Kayenta, you don't have to drive west as with the fastest route, but walk a short stretch east towards Red Mesa and the Four Corners National Monument.
From the Kayenta crossroads, count 23 km, then on the right you will see the red escarpments and the hoodoos scattered here and there of Baby Rocks (here are the coordinates): it will really seem that someone has teleported a section of Bryce in the Navajo Nation! Be warned though: the easiest access to the rocks can be found in Private property and, at least when we went, the dogs didn't like our presence.
On the way to Baby Rocks, just 12km from Kayenta, you will see on your left a massive, spectacular and extremely photogenic rock outcrop: it is called Church Rock, but originally had the name of Sculpted Rock or Artisan Stone. You can see it from afar by parking on the side of the road. We liked it so much that before leaving for the Grand Canyon we photographed it from all possible perspectives!
Navajo National Monument
After quickly visiting these two secret spots in Arizona, you can finally make your way back to Kayenta to get on your way to the Grand Canyon by taking the AZ-64 W towards Tuba City. However, 33 km after Kayenta, your attention will be struck by a sign indicating the Navajo National Monument, a national monument in the Navajo Nation that never fails to amaze those who decide to visit it. Indeed, it is not uncommon to read testimonies of people who, during the trip, decided to stop for a quick visit to this park, and were able to enjoy a truly unexpected spectacle.
The main feature of the Navajo National Monument is in fact the presence of ancient rock settlements excavated in the rocky wall of Tsegi Canyon and datable to around 1250-1300 (III period of the Pueblos). This precious testimony of ancient ancestral civilizations (Anasazi, as the Navajos call them, their direct descendants) can be of particular interest to anyone who is in the midst of a classic tour of the West Coast, during which, for reasons of itinerary, they usually do not can see i typical native villages of northeastern Arizona (Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly, to name two famous ones), from Utah (Mystery Valley, for example) and Colorado, and the pueblos of New Mexico.
So if you would like the idea of seeing the remains of such an ancient civilization, turn right at the sign and take the secondary road AZ-564 to the Visitor Center, a short distance from the canyon cliff. The most popular hike from this small park is 1 mile long and is called Sandal Trail: unless you decide to join one of the guided tours of the park rangers, this is the only way to see, even from a distance, the village called Betatakin Cliff Dwelling. The aforementioned tours, more demanding and tiring, allow you to see the various pueblos in the area from a certainly more favorable vantage point.
Prices and timetables
The entrance to the park is free.
The opening hours are as follows: from the last week of May to the first of September the Visitor Center is open from 8 to 17.30, from October to May the closing time is anticipated to 17. ATTENTION! Being part of the Navajo Nation, the park follows a particolare time zone. If you don't take it into account, you risk finding it closed!
Elephant Feet Area
After visiting the Navajo National Monument, return to the main road and drive back to Tuba City. About 46 km from the intersection with the AZ-564, near Tonalea, stop to take a photo two large monoliths to the side of the road, called effectively Elephant Feet for the curious resemblance to the legs of a pachyderm.
Coal Mine Canyon
Tuba City it is not the most beautiful town you will encounter on your journey, but it has a couple of secrets that you shouldn't miss along the way. The best of all is the pristine Coal Mine Canyon, which however requires a detour from the main road of about 1.10 hours (round trip) and is a bit complicated to reach. If, like me, you absolutely want to see it, the information on the article that I linked above can certainly help you.
Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks
Another interesting attraction is located just 10 km south of Tuba City, this time right on the route that leads us to the Grand Canyon, reachable via a short detour on the right. Prehistoric lovers take note: the Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks (also known as Moenave Dinosaur Tracks) will give you the opportunity to see with your own eyes some real dinosaur footprints, left imprinted in the desert of the Navajo Reservation.
Although in the area there is a shack run by Navajo Indians who will offer you a tour, you can visit the short path of the footsteps for free, possibly supporting their business with the purchase of an artifact.
Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park
The last stage that I point out to you is the Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park. It is located along the AZ-64, 15 km from Cameron (junction with the AZ-64 W), and allows you to see from an elevated position a section of the Little Colorado River, a tributary of the Colorado River which, swelling its waters, has helped excavate the Grand Canyon. Although obscured by its nearby and bulky competitor, this river too - in its small way - has carved out its Grand Canyon: the Little Colorado River Gorge. To enjoy a beautiful view of this gorge you need to reach the Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park: while the first overlook you will encounter is a payment (5 $ for each car), the second is free. In Cameron, 3 km before taking the AZ-64, near a Trading Post, you can also see a ancient suspension bridge over the river, dated 1911.
Visit Monument Valley and Grand Canyon in one day: can it be done?
If you ask me what I think of the project visit Monument Valley and Grand Canyon in one day, although I am rather opposed to hit and run visits to national parks, I tell you that it's not the best but it can be done. However, I recommend that you organize the itinerary very well, starting at the latest in the late morning from Monument Valley and going straight on without stopping Grand Canyon, to visit it (a little superficially and in a hurry) in the afternoon, taking advantage of the favorable time zone. For advice on accommodation after the visit, read the article at the link below: both Flagstaff and Williams and Valle and Tusayan are fine, but it all depends on the next stop.
Where to sleep near the Grand Canyon
Where to sleep between the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley
Il intermediate overnight stay between Monument Valley and Grand Canyon is a question that many ask me because, while it is true that the distance between the two parks is not too great, the shortage of strategic accommodations near the east entrance of the Grand Canyon makes everything more complicated. There are mainly 3 cases:
- In case you have visited Monument Valley in the morning and want to get closer to the Grand Canyon during the rest of the day, you may decide to find accommodation in Tuba City (not particularly pretty but very strategic) oa Flagstaff (prettier but a little more uncomfortable and with much more availability, being on Route 66), perhaps dedicating some time to 2-3 of the stages illustrated above.
- If, on the other hand, you have visited Monument Valley in the afternoon (those who have little time available do so, having visited the attractions of Page in the morning), I recommend that you sleep near Monument Valley (for example Kayenta) and to reach the Grand Canyon the next day, starting early in the morning.
- If, on the other hand, you go from Grand Canyon to Monument Valley, you mainly have two options: if after visiting the park you don't feel like adding to the load of kilometers traveled 3.20 hours, the advice is to go to sleep at Kayenta. If you prefer to break the journey, the only option is Tuba City, a 1.40 hours (Flagstaff is not worth it, since you are going north). Not bad, you can also take the opportunity to visit Coal Mine Canyon before dinner!
Here are all the links to search for accommodation:
All accommodations available in Tuba City
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- your Hotelscombined
All accommodations available in Flagstaff
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- your Hotelscombined
All accommodations available in Kayenta
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