Don't miss these 5 sights during your visit to Monument Valley.

By Redtail Air Adventures

Located far out in the desert on the Utah-Arizona border, witnessing stunning Monument Valley sights is an activity you won’t want to miss. This iconic park provides a lasting image of the great American West as it has been for thousands of years and remains today. Monument Valley is a portion of the Colorado Plateau decorated with awe-inspiring red sandstone buttes and mesas jutting out of the sleepy desert landscape.

Whether visiting the area for a weekend or only a day, here are some of the best Monument Valley sights you want to check out!

Getting to the Monument Valley Sights

Getting to Monument Valley is time-consuming but well worth the trip. There are only a few dependable options to access this iconic area:

Drive to Monument Valley

You can drive on US Highway 163, north of the Utah-Arizona border. This is an hours-long commute. At the park entrance, there is a $20 fee per vehicle. You can also ride your motorcycle, offering a day full of stunning desert commute, but only until the entrance. Motorcycles are not permitted in the valley, so you’ll need transportation once you arrive.

Monument Valley Bus Tour

You can take a bus tour, but with the extensive commute, that option can feel cramped and stuffy. Any bus transportation to Monument Valley can also only take you so far – the dirt roads of Monument Valley are only suitable for adventure vehicles.

Hit the Skies on a Monument Valley Air Tour

You can fly to Monument Valley from Moab. The flight from Moab to Monument Valley is under 60 minutes, and the entire tour will cover all of the best sights in Monument Valley in just a few adventure-packed hours. Flights to Monument Valley provide unrivaled views and will leave you plenty of time to visit other incredible sights before the day ends.

layers of rock buttes and spires across monument valley

Things To Do in Monument Valley: Top 5 Sights

1. The Mittens

If you’ve seen any Western film, there’s a good chance you’ve caught a glimpse of this astounding pair of formations. But we can guarantee that a quick look through a TV screen does not do this view justice.

The East and West Mitten Buttes rise hundreds of feet from the valley floor, making up a world-famous panoramic view. The mittens reflect each other from across the valley in a confounding feat of Mother Nature. On exceedingly remarkable sunrises and sunsets (think twice a year), lucky individuals will experience the “mitten shadow,” where the shadow of one mitten is reflected on its twin. Photographers travel worldwide to capture this incredibly unique moment of magic!

From the Ground

While almost all of the hikes in Monument Valley require the presence of a tour guide, The Mittens are accessible from the Wildcat Trail – the only trail in the park that doesn’t require a guide.

The hike is around 4 miles long and rated moderately difficult due to the sandy sections involved. You can bring your dog if it stays on a leash the whole time. This hike takes most people around 2-3 hours to complete, so give yourself enough time to do the entire thing with extra time to enjoy breaks full of views. Don’t skimp on food and water – it can be a day of heat and direct sun exposure.

From the Air

Beholding The world-famous “Mittens” from a private airplane is an experience you will never forget. While hiking the trail and seeing them on foot provides you with great views, the scenery you can take in from a plane is expansive and all-encompassing – it tells the whole story of the scenery you can’t get from the ground.

While hiking to The Mittens takes a chunk of the day, a flight tour will allow you to see so much more in a shorter time! It’s also a fantastic option for those not confident about a challenging hike.

If you are trying to pack in as much sightseeing as possible on a short trip to Monument Valley, booking a flight is well worth it.

The mittens of Monument valley

The Mittens from the ground

The Mittens during a flight to monument valley

The Mittens from the air

2. Totem Pole and Yei-Bi-Chei

The Totem Pole and Yei-Bi-Chei, are a pair of especially famous Monument Valley sights. Just as it sounds, the Totem Pole is a very tall and thin formation that juts out of the ground, like a totem pole. Widely considered the world’s skinniest and most elevated spire formation, The Totem Pole stands proudly alone near its sister formation.

Yei-Bi-Chei is named after a nine-night Navajo ceremony where dancers wear masks that resemble the Gods. The shape of this formation resembles the fire dancers present in this traditional ceremony.

These formations create a stark contrast against the surrounding blue sky and green brush, making them incredibly beautiful to photograph in the sunset hours.

From the Ground

If you want an up-close view of these formations from the ground, you need to plan a guided tour with a local guide.

Hiking to the Totem Pole and Yei-Bi-Chei requires the accompaniment of an experienced guide due to the location and reverence of the land. The area around the Totem Pole is sacred ground to the Navajo people and, like the rest of the valley, should be treated with high respect.

If you don’t have a guided tour planned, you can catch a glimpse from the road. Totem Pole and Yei-Bi-Chei are off Highway 89, approximately half a mile north of the Moqui Cave. Next to the highway, you will find a pull-off and a gated fence. The Totem Pole and Yei-Bi-Chei formations can be seen just past this pull-off!

Looking closely, you may see some experienced climbers attempting to conquer the challenging ascent to the top of The Totem Pole!

From the Air

From a bird’s eye view, you can admire the effects of erosion on these incredible formations. Observing Yei-Bi-Chei from the air can give you a unique perspective to appreciate its close resemblance to a group of dancers.

Taking a flight tour helps you to see more in a short amount of time and gives you exciting vantage points of these features.

Hiking around Monument Valley often requires the presence of a guide, and many areas restrict access. In the air, you can see it all efficiently. You can fly over the Totem Pole and Yei-Bi-Chei and still have plenty of time to see the other incredible formations in the area.

Totem Poles seen during a monument valley tour

Totem Pole and Yei-Bi-Chei from the ground

Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chai from the air

Totem Pole and Yei-Bi-Chei from the air

3. Natural Bridges National Monument

It took millions of years of natural erosion for the land to meticulously construct these stunning land bridges of Natural Bridges National Monument. With ancient Puebloan ruins to visit and exciting perspectives of the bridges to experience, this national monument should absolutely be on your list.

From the Ground

When you take the time to experience Natural Bridges National Monument, you can see three incredible natural bridges and many Anasazi cliff dwellings! The area also has ancient pictographs and many beautiful white sandstone canyons.

This monument is about a two-hour drive from Monument Valley, so you’ll need to plan accordingly to either see it before or after you reach Monument Valley. It’s not near any major cities, which means finding it can be less convenient, but it also means fewer people to share the scenery with!

If you want to see all three natural bridges up close, there is a 5-mile walking path rated as moderately tricky that you may want to take. There are many variants of this hiking trail that you can take if you decide you only want to see one or two of the bridges.

From the Air

The inconvenience of The Natural Bridge’s location becomes an afterthought when you visit by airplane. Hours spent in the car are turned into minutes when you take flight! On your trip to Monument Valley, you can soar over this stunning rock formation and ruins.

While hiking to all of the natural bridges takes a reasonable amount of time and preparation, a flight tour will allow you to see all three of them close to one another! Southern Utah has so much to offer, and on a short day trip or weekend-long excursion, booking a flight tour will give you the most bang for your buck! You can see all three natural bridges during your Monument Valley tour.

natural bridges in monument valley

Natural Bridges National Monument from the ground

4. Valley of the Gods

Located close to Mexican Hat, the buttes, pinnacles, and vast desert landscape in Valley of the Gods will transport you to another time or even another planet. The vibrant red sandstone and endless horizons depict a wild landscape free from human manipulation.

From the Ground

Unlike much of Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods is located on public BLM land, and exploring the area does not require the presence of a certified hiking guide. While there are no designated trails or campgrounds, there is plenty of space for backcountry exploring, backpacking, and camping.

Because there are no designated hiking trails in this area, your hikes can be however long or short. The roads to this area can be unmaintained, so be aware of your vehicle capability, driving ability, and weather factors!

From the Air

Crossing this vast land is much more manageable by plane. Appreciate this valley in its entirety by getting the complete picture from above.

From your flight, you will get spectacular views of all of the rock formations the Valley of the Gods offers. There are numerous buttes, pinnacles, and panoramic views that you can take in from the comfort of your airplane seat.

Seeing the entirety of Valley of the Gods can take many hours, if not days, to see on foot. While hiking is a great option, we cannot recommend a flight tour enough. Seeing Valley of the Gods via flight will only take an hour or two from your jam-packed day, and it is worth the time.

Valley of the God seen on a monument valley tour

Valley of the Gods seen from the ground

Valley of the Gods seen on a redtail flight tour

Valley of the Gods from the air

5. Dark Canyon Wilderness Area

If you want to see some green during your desert trip, Dark Canyon Wilderness Area will connect you to the desert’s shady and dense green area. With sheer rock faces and more opportunities to find shelter from the sun, this is a popular spot for extended camping trips and backpacking excursions.

From the Ground

While much of Monument Valley offers solely desert scenery, the Dark Canyon Wilderness Area also gives you some beautiful forested areas! Here you can see both forest and desert views and fascinating ancient native ruins.

The Dark Canyon Wilderness Area offers a long hiking trail that can be backpacked over 5-7 days. It is integral to carry all necessary supplies and have adequate map-reading and orienteering skills. The hike is a total of 40 miles, but there are many side-spur trails to venture onto that can make it even longer!

From the Air

You’ll never tire of the desert landscapes that dominate Monument Valley, but flying over The Dark Canyon Wilderness Area offers a palette cleanser! This area is rich in plant life, geological features, and archaeological remnants that will provide a unique shift in your scenery from the plane.

If you don’t have the time or the ability to backpack into the wilderness for a whole week, booking a flight tour is a great way to experience the Dark Canyon Wilderness Area. Flying with a guide will share the beauty of this backcountry area without the strenuous work and daunting planning required to hike it.

Dark canyon wilderness during a monument valley tour

Dark Canyon Wilderness Area from the ground

Explore Monument Valley With Redtail Air!

Monument Valley is one of the most majestic places you can visit on Earth. There are countless sandstone monuments around every corner- and each one is unique and exciting in its own right.

While hiking in Monument Valley is an excellent experience, you won’t see the big picture by traveling on foot. If you are pressed for time on your day trip or weekend getaway to Monument Valley, booking a flight with Redtail Air will give you the best experience possible for your short stay.

With so many things to do in Monument Valley, your bucket list of sights and activities can be overwhelming. Prioritizing these 5 Monument Valley sights will help you create a well-rounded view of the area without taking too much time!

If you need help planning your Monument Valley trip, reach out to our team. We can take you through all these Monument Valley sights and more on a single flight tour.

Boy looking out an airplane window

Flight Tours to Monument Valley

Monument Valley Overnight Tour

Monument Valley is stunning by day but magical by night. Enjoy an overnight stay, the only trip option where you’ll experience an evening in Monument Valley.

The Overnight Trip includes:

    • An hour-long scenic flight narrated by an expert pilot that covers several stunning areas between Moab and Monument Valley.
    • A 2.5-hour private guided ground tour of Monument Valley’s famous views, led by local guides.
    • Transport to and from Goulding’s Lodge for comfortable overnight accommodations.
    • Local cuisine for lunch and dinner with Goulding’s Stagecoach Restaurant.
    • Free entrance into Goulding’s Museum & Trading Post.
    • A cozy private room at Goulding’s Resort with free access to the pool and Earth Spirit Theater.
    • Seamlessly return to Moab the following day on another scenic flight tour.

Monument Valley Overview Tour

Feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to fit all of your explorations in? With this short Monument Valley flight tour, you can see this area’s beauty and still have time in the day to take on other activities. This tour is only a few hours from take-off to landing!

The Overview Tour includes:

  • An hour-long flight tour narrated by an expert pilot with views of Canyonlands National Park, Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley and more.
  • Fly among staggering rock formations, canyons, and plateaus that would be impossible to see on a single ground tour.
  • Land at one of the iconic Monument Valley viewpoints for a short photo op and ground exploration.

Monument Valley Full-Day Tour

If you have a day you want to fill with adventure and stunning scenery, our full-day tour is packed with everything Monument Valley offers, both on the ground and in the sky.

The Day Trip Tour includes:

    • An hour-long scenic flight narrated by an expert pilot that covers several stunning areas between Moab and Monument Valley.
    • A 2.5-hour private guided ground tour of Monument Valley’s famous views, led by local guides.
    • A lunch of local cuisine at Goulding’s Stagecoach Restaurant.
    • Free entrance into Goulding’s Museum & Trading Post.

Monument Valley & Canyonlands Combo Tour

Look down on sheer cliffs, canyon rivers, and endless horizons of Monument Valley & Canyonlands National Park. Touch down and see the famous Mittens!

Learn More

December 14, 2022

The Best Way to See Monument Valley


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