Towering from 400 to 1,000 ft tall, a cluster of sandstone buttes in the Colorado Plateau make up what is known as Monument Valley. Colored a beautiful bright red, the valley is made of siltstone, but gets its hue from iron oxide, which is exposed when the siltstone weathers away. The valley is located on the border of Arizona and Utah and forms part of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Navajo Nation’s version of a national park. Perhaps the valley’s most recognizable image is that of its “mittens”, buttes shaped like gloves.
When to go: Summer in Monument Valley is typically hot, with temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s. Winter days are mild (40’s and 50’s), but nights are frigid (20’s and 30’s). It is definitely a spot you can visit year round, however the peak season is May 1–September 30.
What to do: Entry to the park is $5 per person (children aged nine or younger enter for free). Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation provides a list of guided tours, from vehicle tours to hiking tours, to horseback tours. If you want to do your own thing, hike the Wildcat Trail, which is 3.2 miles and takes you around the West Mitten Butte – however, Navajo guides are required if you venture off the valley road. And if you have a car, you can also do your own scenic drive.
How to get there: Airports in Page and Flagstaff, Arizona, and in Farmington, New Mexico are the closest to Monument Valley, each between a two and three hour drive away. U.S. Highway 163 runs through the heart of the valley.