Settled around 1200 BCE by the Anasazi, or Ancestral Pueblan peoples, the Monument Valley (Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii, has been the heart of desert civilization for centuries and now draws thousands to its red sand expanses and stark sandstone towers. And while many people will drive through this region, stopping only long enough for a photo op, Monument Valley camping is an opportunity to get that red sand under your fingernails and truly experience this iconic destination.
Even though Monument Valley isn’t quite “on the way” to any of Utah’s major national parks, its quiet, secluded location still manages to inspire campers, adventurers and historians alike to traverse sandy trails and capture otherworldly sunsets along the valley floor. Monument Valley camping is incredibly scenic, unique and sure to make some lasting memories.
A 17-mile maintained dirt road takes travelers near all of the major towers in the area – The Mittens, Three Sisters, John Ford’s Point, Totem Pole, Yei Bi Chai and Ear of the Wind – while trails along the way can lead you deeper into the heart of the valley.
For a true Monument Valley experience, hiring a Navajo guide to traverse the grounds on horseback is probably the truest, best way to see the ancient Anasazi Ruins and natural bridges in the area. If you’re looking to get even closer, Monument Valley camping puts you right on the earth that has been home to civilizations for centuries.
Embrace Desert Landscapes at These 5 Monument Valley Camping Destinations
Monument Valley is a designated Navajo Tribal Park, a 30,000-acre expanse within the larger 16-million-acre Navajo Reservation. The land in Monument Valley is sacred and historic, documenting centuries of land treaties, negotiations and pain. Most of the hikes in the park are only available through guides with extensive knowledge about the park and its history.
Fees to access the park are $20.00 per vehicle, or $10 per person if entering by foot or bike. Access to the scenic route opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 8:30 p.m. during high season (May 1-Sep 30) and 8 a.m. to 4:30 pm in the off season (Oct 1-Apr 30).
Even though Monument Valley might be off the beaten path, it’s well worth the detour. And with five campgrounds in Monument Valley, you’ll be able to find a spot to call home as you explore and adventure in this wild, sacred land.
1. The View Campground (0.4 miles from Visitor Center)
Arguably the best Monument Valley camping option, The View offers, well, the views! From the campground, campers can see the most popular tower in Monument Valley — the Mittens — and access the four-mile Wildcat Trail.
Along with the views, campers have immediate access to the 17-mile road through the park and are close enough to the visitor center to start guided tours, including horseback riding and Jeep tours. Campers should note, though, that sites here are a bit pricier — approximately $40 for a night on top of $20 entrance fee and $5 tribal lands fee.
As for the campground, all the basic amenities are provided, including potable water, a fire pit and picnic tables. Because it’s in the desert, though, there’s minimal shade or protection from the elements, so on a windy day, you’re going to feel it. But with views like these, it hardly matters.
“The site is pretty pricey as it is essentially a bare parking spot, but this is the most beautiful parking spot I have ever slept in ;).” —The Dyrt camper Carly E.
2. Monument Valley KOA (5.2 miles from Visitor Center)
Recently opened, Monument Valley KOA offers enough amenities for any type of camper, from motorhomes to tent campers. Long, 75’ sites, 50 amp plug-ins and a dog run — not to mention the stellar views — make the campground a place where you want to stay a while.
Even though Monument Valley is relatively secluded from modern-day amenities, campers can purchase pizzas and nachos from the KOA office with the option to purchase by the pie or by the slice.
Also available from the Monument Valley KOA are Jeep and horseback tours through the park that meet, conveniently, on-site. Beyond the proximity and convenience, the Monument Valley KOA also offers the views of the towers and mesas in the park.
“The road noise is not bad, but [the campground] is right by the main roadway. With that all being said, all can easily be put aside as the VIEW…..AMAZING!!!” —The Dyrt camper Daniel L.
3. Goulding’s RV & Campground (6.2 miles from Visitor Center)
While not as close to the towers themselves, Goulding’s RV & Campground sits beneath the towering red walls and, if you can set up early enough, offers views of the Mittens and other towers along Monument Valley road. With a stagecoach Old West theme, Goulding’s RV & Campground is a fun, almost kitschy place to stay for a few nights while touring the desert Southwest.
Not only does the campground offer sites with picnic tables, fire rings and hot showers, you can also book tours through Goulding’s with Navajo guides to learn the ins and outs of the park or to see the towers, mesas and buttes in the pre-dawn light or moonlight.
The campground and RV park are separate from each other, offering a little more space and views for both in their respective park. Being a few miles farther out from the Visitor Center, Goulding’s RV & Campground sits slightly closer to the four corners for quick access to a plethora of other Southwest wonders and attractions.
“Each site had a picnic table and fire pit. The campground has a cute history and fun touristy things to check out . . . and it’s convenience to Monument Valley is superb.” —The Dyrt camper Stacie H.
4. Goosenecks State Park (32.5 miles from Visitor Center)
Like a smaller-scale Horseshoe Bend, Goosenecks State Park offers fantastic desert views until visitors get to the rim to lay their eyes upon the river-carved canyon below. At the campground, there are vaulted toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables to accommodate campers.
Monument Valley camping at Goosenecks State Park costs $10 a night for first come, first served campsites. While you won’t get the same views here as you would at The View or Goulding’s, you are afforded a kind of solitude that’s not found at either of those campgrounds.
There are only eight sites here, so getting to Goosenecks early will serve you well in finding a spot to stay for the night. If there’s no ranger on site, simply drop your deposit into the box and enjoy your restful getaway at Gooseneck.
“The view from the top was spectacular! I went to the gooseneck because it was a part of the group tour itinerary. Of all the state and national parks the tour guide took us to, this was definitely my favorite spot.” —The Dyrt camper Dan N.
5. Muley Point (42.8 miles from Visitor Center)
To avoid the Monument Valley camping crowds and the prices, head to Muley Point near Mexican Hat for some free and accessible BLM camping. The dirt roads up to Muley Point are well maintained, so vehicles of all clearances can make the drive up to the rim.
From the rim, campers see sweeping views of the valley below. While you can’t actually see Monument Valley from Muley Point, you can see the various tables, mesas and buttes in the surrounding desert landscape. There are no amenities, just primitive, private camping to purely get away from it all.
“Quiet, dispersed areas. The dirt road is well maintained but when it gets wet it can get muddy quick. You’re on a cliff so winds can pick up. Plenty of spots for various sizes rigs.” —The Dyrt camper Tracy E. C.
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