Monument Valley is located between the border of Arizona and Utah and is a frequently photographed and striking Navajo Nation park The red sand desert and colossal buttes made of sandstone are iconic sights. With seemingly endless rock formations, winding scenic drives, and plenty of breathtaking vantage points, this valley is a great stop for any and all photographers.
With so many different structures to see, it can be easy to get lost in the beauty of Monument Valley. Here is a list of the best photography spots to help you keep track and to make sure you’re capturing the most stunning photos. These are the Best Photography Spots In Monument Valley National Park.
The gear we recommend is a good camera and the holy trinity. A wide-angle lens. 14-24mm or something similar. A 24-70mm or something similar and, of course, a 70-200mm or something similar.
If you do not have these particular lenses, do not worry; something similar will be just fine. It would be best if you also had a tripod.
Monument Valley National Park Photography Guide
1.Monument Valley Visitor’s Center
While this may not sound like a very interesting photo location, the visitor center actually offers the best view of the park in its entirety. The lookout spot is probably one of the most photographed not only because of the beautiful pictures it produces but also the ease of access. It can get crowded at different times especially at sunset so try to plan ahead to make sure you have the space you need. These are the Best Photography Spots In Monument Valley.
2.Mile Marker 13
Mile Marker 13 is located on Route 163 and is the location of where the iconic Forrest Gump running scene was filmed. It offers a spectacular view and has become a popular spot for amateur Instagrammers and professional photographers.
3.Forrest Gump Point
This is one of the most recognizable roads in the world and that is all thanks to the movie Forrest Gump. This is the road where the main character, Forrest, decides to quit his journey to run across the continental United States. It gives photographers an interesting shot of Monument Valley from a distance. Just be careful of oncoming traffic when you’re taking your pictures!
4. Artist’s Point
Finding the perfect shot in Monument Valley is all about knowing where the best overlook points are. Artist’s Point is one of the best viewpoints in the park alongside John Ford’s Point and is a common stopping point for visitors. There is a large parking lot here that adequately supports the flow of visitors so you’ll have plenty of space to capture what you’re looking for.
5. Merrick Butte
Merrick Butte is one of the more massive rock formations in the park alongside West and East Mitten Butte. It sits at the north side of the park and is over 6,000 feet in height. The giant is a striking addition to any photographer’s portfolio whether as the focus or with its neighboring buttes.
6. John Ford’s Point
This lookout point was named after the famous Hollywood director, John Ford. This is the place to be to capture the classic southwest cowboy shot especially since it is a common sight in well-known western movies. John Ford’s Point overlooks the entire valley floor and the best part is that there are horses you can rent to help complete the look.
7. Elephant Butte
This is one of the most famous rock formations in the park and is impossible to miss whether you are hiking through or driving. The wide expanse of the park gives you the chance to photograph Elephant Butte from multiple angles. These red rocks can be beautifully photographed from various vantage points and look majestic in any season of the year.
8. The Three Sisters Rock
It is easy to tell how this rock formation was named. The Three Sisters rock is near John Ford’s Point and is defined by three towering red rock formations sitting in a row. They look great in any lighting whether you’re capturing shots early in the morning or right in the middle of the day with the sun fully on the formations. There are lots of interesting perspectives that creative photographers can apply to these shots. Some of the most iconic ones have captured the moon in the background!
9. Valley Drive
Valley Drive is the scenic drive that visitors are able to drive through for the price of 20 dollars. The bumpy drive may not seem very relevant when you’re able to explore the park on your own but it offers visitors a chance to get up close and personal with the iconic rock formations in the park. The entire drive is 17 miles long and takes up to two hours to complete.
The Best Photography Spots In Monument Valley National Park
10. Mitten Shadow Event
The Mitten Shadow event is a biannual event that occurs in Monument Valley. The first time it appears each year is late March and then again in mid-September. During this event, West Mitten Butte casts a perfect shadow on East Mitten Butte at sunset which creates a cool image if taken from the right angles. Make sure to plan accordingly because this is a twice-a-year photography opportunity that also needs clear skies to happen.
11. The Thumb
The Thumb is a stone monument that got its name from its thumb-shaped appearance. Its rounded top allows you to hold your own thumb in front of it and expect a fun match. This is actually a pretty popular photograph that many visitors take.
There is no shortage of sandstones in Monument Valley. Other than the world-famous sandstone pillars (East Mitten Butte, West Mitten Butte, Merrick Butte), there are plenty of interesting, smaller sandstones to capture as well. There are a number of tour groups that take visitors off-trail to learn more about the individual sandstone formations and find unique shots.
Sunrises are a gorgeous sight from anywhere in the park and are ideal times for trying to capture photos since there are fewer tourists around this time. The desert sky is lit up in the most magical and vibrant colors and the striking silhouettes of the rock formations in Monument Valley make for very eye-catching photos.
14. The Totem Pole
The Totem Pole is one of the many rock formations you can spot from your car when you travel through Valley Drive. This pillar of rock is a remnant of a larger butte from years ago and sits at 450 feet tall and 40 feet across. Its pointed appearance directs viewers up towards the sky and is one of the skinniest spires in the world.
15. North Window
The North Window will give you a clear view of the East Mitten Butte and position you right in between Elephant Butte and Cly Butte, a smaller formation. This is another spot on the scenic drive that is a popular destination for visitors.
16. West Mitten Butte
The Mitten Buttes sit on the Arizona side of Monument Valley. The West Mitten Butte is on the northeast side of the park and its summit sits at 6,176 feet tall. The rock formation received its name from its appearance which looks like a giant mitten with inward-facing thumbs.
17. East Mitten Butte
East Mitten Butte stands at 6,226 feet tall and is the complement rock formation to West Mitten Butte. Like West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte is shaped like a large mitten with thumbs facing inwards. The rock formation is made of three layers, Organ Rock Shale, de Chelly Sandstone, and the Moenkopi Formation topped by the Shinarump Conglomerate. The rock formation has a distinct red color that brightens any photo.
18. Taylor Rock
Taylor Rock gives photographers a stunning view of the park and is a hidden gem within the park that is easily missed. It opens up to an incredible view of the entire landscape and is great for taking photos of Monument Valley in its entirety. To find this spot just park at the lot for the View Hotel and find the rock by the footpath.
19. Wildcat Trail
This is the only walking trail in the entire valley and lets you stroll through the park at your leisure. It starts from the car park and leads you around West Mitten Butte which offers you lots of cool angles to photograph from. The whole trail is around four miles long and has an endless desert landscape, fauna, and sand dunes to explore.
20. Camel Butte
Another interesting rock formation in the park is Camel Butte. This is composed of a narrow sandstone peak and is one of the ones you are able to see up close while exploring the park. You can easily capture the detailed layers of erosion within the butte and appreciate how these rock formations are formed.
These are the Best Photography Spots In Monument Valley National Park
If you enjoyed the list, please leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Feel free to stick around and check out our other photography guides. Please remember to check back as we are continually updating our guides.
Tours you might enjoy: