Before human existence, the Park was once a lowland basin. For hundreds of millions of years, materials that eroded from the early Rock Mountains deposited layer upon layer of sediment which cemented a slow and gentle uplift, generated by ceaseless pressure from below the surface, elevating these horizontal strata quite uniformly one to three miles above sea level. What was once a basin became a plateau.
Natural forces of wind and water that eroded the land spent the last 50 million years cutting into and peeling away at the surface of the plateau. The simple wearing down of altering layers of soft and hard rock slowly revealed the natural wonders of Monument Valley today.
From the visitor center, you see the world-famous panorama of the Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte. You can also purchase guided tours from Navajo tour operators, who take you down into the valley in Jeeps for a narrated cruise through these mythical formations. Places such as Ear of the Wind and other landmarks can only be accessed via guided tours. During the summer months, the visitor center also features Haskenneini Restaurant, which specializes in both native Navajo and American cuisines, and a film/snack/souvenir shop. There are year-round restroom facilities. One mile before the center, numerous Navajo vendors sell arts, crafts, native food, and souvenirs at roadside stands.
Park Rules & Regulations
All areas on the Navajo Nation are closed to non-Navajos unless you have a valid camping, hiking, or backcountry permit issued by Navajo Parks and Recreation Department or other duly delegated tribal authority. Failure to have a permit is considered Trespassing on a Federal Indian Reservation.
DO NOT desecrate Navajo lands and violate the trust of Navajo people by discarding cremated human remains on tribal property. Please respect tribal beliefs.
NO ROCK CLIMBING or BASE JUMPING on Navajo Land. Please abide by the humble religious requests of the Navajo people and do not climb on the Monuments. Navajo law will be strictly enforced on this issue.
In accordance with the Resources Committee Land Use Policies, a camping fee will be charged per person, per night. In addition, a Backcountry Use Permit is required for hiking, which has a per person fee. Please see our Backcountry Permits page for more information.
Stay on designated trails and routes. Cutting switchbacks damages trails and causes erosion and destruction of soil composition. It can take 100 years for soil and vegetation to recover from human impact.
A permit is required for fishing any lakes or streams, and also for hunting game on land under the jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation. Permits, fees, and dates can be obtained from Fish & Wildlife Department: P.O. Box 1480, Window Rock, AZ 86515 or call (928) 871-6451.
Respect the privacy and customs of the Navajo people. Do not wander across residential areas or disturb property. Obtain permission before taking pictures of the Navajo people.
Whatever you pack into the wilderness, you must carry out. Nothing should be left, buried, or burned. Substances such as food scraps and garbage will take years to decompose and wildfires can be started by burning trash.
Pets are allowed ONLY if on a leash at all times. The backcountry is open range for livestock.
Photographs or video taken for commercial use is prohibited unless accompanied by a valid permit issued by Navajo Parks & Recreation or Navajo Office of Broadcasting Services.
Navajo Tribal Code Title 17, Section 1451, prohibits the use of firearms.
The Navajo Nation is not responsible for any injuries, accidents, or thefts of personal property during your visit.
Fires are permitted only in grills, fireplaces, or similar control devices. No open ground fires. There is always a danger of wildfires.
Do not disturb or remove animals, plants, rocks, or artifacts. Tribal Antiquity and federal laws are in effect. Special permits are required from the Navajo Minerals Department and Natural Heritage Program to collect rocks or plants.
Consumption and/or possession of alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs are prohibited.
Vehicles: The Navajo Nation is not responsible for any theft or accidents during your visit. Parking your vehicles in isolated areas will not be monitored or surveillance. You may however, obtain permission to park your vehicles at local residence. They may request a small fee.
Off-road Travel: Dune buggies, jeeps, 4-wheel drive vehicles and motorcycles are prohibited off established trails and on roads. Unnecessary trails or roads result in erosion to the fragile environment.