With its diverse landscape – sandy desert, deep canyons and forested mountains – it’s little wonder that Monument Valley is a firm Utah favourite.
Home to Navajo Indian Nation and the Four Corners Monument, the area’s unique sandstone formations has seen it become the backdrop of many western movies.
Monument Valley is home to red mesas and buttes that typify the American West. As a result, you may feel you’re in familiar territory even if it’s your first visit to the region. Monument is a wide, flat landscape dotted with crumbling sandstone formations jutting hundreds of feet into the air, changing colour depending on the weather.
Monument Valley is a photographer’s dream destination, while the spiritually-minded can immerse themselves in the sacred Navajo lands, plants and animals, making for an unforgettable journey whatever your interests.
Mountain Valley’s landscapes include mountain forests, deep canyons, and sparse deserts.
Whichever trail you tackle, you can take in staggering Anasazi formations and ancient rock art.
Hovenweep Cajon Group – Hovenweep National Monument’s Cajon Group hosts the region’s most striking Anasazi ruins. Ancient stone structures typically found at the head of a small canyon, according to archaeologists they once housed between 80 and 100 people.
In addition to larger dwelling units, the canyon wall is dotted with cliff dwellings and pictographs.
Natural Bridges Sipapu Trail -Sipapu Bridge – ‘sipapu’ meaning a gateway through which souls pass to the spirit world in Hopi mythology – is the world’s second largest natural bridge. In fact, Utah is also home to the world’s largest, Rainbow Bridge in Glen Canyon.
Situated in Natural Bridges National Monument, Sipapu Bridge can be viewed from the canyon rim overlook, or up close and personal for those willing to hike into the canyon.
Grand Gulch – Kane Gulch to Bullet Canyon – Soak up the views of ancient Anasazi ruins amidst untamed wilderness – Grand Gulch has it all for hikers.
For people with 3-4 days up their sleeves, shoulder a backpack and tackle the Kane Gulch to Bullet Canyon trek. It’s 33 miles in total, with a shuttle waiting at the other side. If 33 miles sounds like child’s play, carry on to the San Juan River for a 52-mile trek.
If you’re after a hike that’s short and sweet by comparison, set off for the day to the ruins around Kane Gulch/Grand Gulch junction; it’s a 9.5 miles round trip. Permits are needed for both day and multi-day trips.
Monument Valley trails have served as the backdrop for many classic western films.
Today, regular folk can traverse the paths on horseback, either guided or unguided – Navajo wranglers have horses corralled throughout the valley and its access roads, ready for your next Utah adventure.