Monument Valley Camping and Places to Stay

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We decided to spend a night and go camping in Monument Valley after driving from the Grand Canyon on our western National Parks road trip. It’s a beautiful place in the middle of the desert on the border of Arizona and Utah. It’s also a good place to stop over if your coming from or on your way to the Four Corners.

The Navajo Tribal Park owns the property and operates a visitor’s center, hotel, campground, and guided tours. We spent half a day there, and along with camping, we got to see a lot on our short visit!

Read more about the Top 7 Things to do in Monument Valley!

night sky, monument valley, camping

Camping in Monument Valley

If you have your own tent and camping supplies, great. If not, don’t worry! There are Monument Valley campgrounds where you can rent a tent, or even go *glamping in a nice big canvas tent with a bed, a tipi, or a Hogan (a traditional dwelling of the natives that’s like a big wooden, or stone hut).

  • The View Campground, located in the Tribal Park itself.  It’s got RV hookups and traditional camping sites that you need your own tent for.
  • Goulding’s has a campground too, complete with RV hookups, cabins, and tent sites.
  • Monument Valley Tipi Village, located just before Goulding’s. How cool would it be to spend the night in a tipi!  They also have cabins and tent sites available.
  • Mustang Valley Campground, also located right outside the Tribal Park on Monument Valley Road. This is the campground where we stayed, and we booked it through Airbnb. If you’ve never tried Airbnb yet, I highly recommend it!

*Glamping is a newly coined word that means “glamorous camping”. There are the extremes where you have a full on hotel bed, nice floor, and even bathroom facilities inside or nearby your “tent”. And by tent I’m not talking one of those little small popups, but a big canvas tent that you can stand up and walk around in. More modest glamping tents will just include a comfy bed or cot.

monument valley campground
This was where we camped, right in the valley with the monuments in the background!

The campground owner where we stayed at was a native Navajo who was really friendly, and even sold us firewood for a good price so we didn’t have to go shopping for it. Although if you do need firewood or food supplies there’s Goulding’s Grocery Store that you can stop at just down the road.

Hotels in Monument Valley

  • The View Hotel. This is right on the property of the visitor’s center, and owned by the Navajo. It’s front and center set up for a beautiful sunrise view!
  • Goulding’s Lodge. Another great and popular place with a view of the valley! Even if you don’t stay here it’s worth taking a ride up. There’s a lot of movie memorabilia from John Wayne. See the places he was at when they filmed the popular movies!
  • Tear Drop Arch B&B which includes options for camping too.
  • Fire Tree B&B, A bit on the expensive side, but pretty cool looking in that you you can sleep in a Hogan! This is a little farther away from the main monuments and section of Monument Valley however.
The View Hotel in Monument Valley
That’s the View Hotel on the right. An interesting fact is all the rooms face the east, which is traditional Navajo custom. This is a great place to watch the sun rise!

Other Places to Stay nearby

If the places right in Monument Valley are full or too expensive, you can also try in the nearby towns of Kayenta (20 minutes to the south), or Mexican Hat (20 minutes north). Both are generally a bit cheaper.

Kayenta, Arizona

Mexican Hat, Utah

monument valley, goulding's lodge, road
A view of Monument Valley from Goulding’s Lodge.


Our Monument Valley Camping Story

We drove into our campsite in the afternoon. I had planned to get here before dark as I heard there weren’t any streetlights, so it would be much more difficult to find the place. I definitely advise arriving during daylight hours!

We didn’t see anybody in the campground at first, but after a minute or two one of the owners came out and greeted us. She was nice and showed us to our spot. It was a big white canvas tent with 2 beds inside with colorful wool blankets, even a couch! (Yes, we took the glamping route, as we didn’t bring any camping gear with us on the plane).

There was a light hooked onto the pole in the center of the tent so we could see around in the dark-which was great since we forgot to take a flashlight with us! I highly recommend bringing a flashlight, especially one of these headlamps, if you’re going camping-or glamping even!

Oh and for bathrooms…there was the lone outhouse, set a little ways away from the tents, and facing towards one of the monuments. Well, at least you get a nice view! Since we forgot any sort of flashlight, we used our phones light to guide to us and from the outhouse at night, not really the best but it worked lol. They also did have some showers with running water on the other side of the area.

We left the campground for a while to go visit the park itself and Goulding’s Lodge (you can you can read here about all the things to do in Monument Valley), and then came back just before it got dark as we didn’t want to get lost or anything. This area gets VERY dark after sunset.

Monument Valley Sunset
The view as we were headed back to our campground from Goulding’s.
sunset in the campground
Sunset in the campground

Since we were camping, we absolutely had to build a campfire! We set up the wood, and the owner also showed us where there were some matches and lighter fluid to start it with. Jason, my husband, got the fire going, and after a few minutes another camper came over to us, “Hello, mind if I join you?” he said with a heavy Asian accent. Sure why not! The more the merrier 🙂

Jimmy was his name, and he was a software engineer from China “Where iPhone is made!” as he told us. We all sat down on the wood benches surrounding the fire and ate dinner together. Me and Jason had stopped over at Goulding’s Store where they had a small fast food bar. I got a “Navajo Taco”, which was a piece of fry bread (a Navajo flat bread deep fried) with standard taco filling. It wasn’t too bad for something quick to eat.

Jimmy went back over to his car to grab his food, and came back…with a can of spam. “Uh Jimmy,” Jason started to say, “that’s um, not really good.”

“No, is good! Is American food. I want try real culture food!”

“Yeah, ok, but do you have anything else? That’s really not good food.”

“No, no, is good, look see here, it not expire for 5 year!” We then watched as he opened the can and took some out to try it. “Hm, I think, it needs cooked. Taste better warmer.”

“Well it’s kind of hard to cook that without a frying pan or anything here.”

Then he took some of the spam meat and tried to put it on a stick to hold it over the fire, which of course didn’t work as it just fell off the stick lol….Finally giving up, he went back to see what else he had and must have talked to the owner because before long he came back with some real American fair: a nice juicy hot dog!

Camping in Monument Valley
Our campsite with tents and fire lit up. It was a beautiful, if chilly, October night.

We sat and chatted for a few hours around the campfire, played some music on the small travel guitar we’d brought, and enjoyed looking up at the stars until it got too cloudy. Inside the tent the beds were really nice and cozy with thick wool blankets on top which kept us warm the whole night. It did get chilly, and also very windy, probably was down in the 40’s outside in early October when we stayed the night.

Monument Valley campground at night
Night settled over the camp, with the outline of one of the monuments in the distance.

The next morning I got up just before sunrise. It was still really cool out as I sat there with my winter coat on and hood pulled over my head, but wow was it worth it! As the sun came up it lit up the sky with the monuments backlit against it. Being right down on the ground in the valley made it even more spectacular!

Sunrise in Monument Valley
Sunrise lit up the monuments just beautifully!
sunshine on buttes
Mitten Butte Monument valley sunrise

We lit the fire and sat down while another camper and Jimmy joined us again, along with an armful of dried desert sticks that he had collected. “Here, I bring more wood!” He dropped the whole pile right next to the already lit fire and wooden benches. Eeek lol.  We quick got that out of the way before it would create a problem. Jimmy grew up in the city and knew nothing about lighting fires or cooking, so this whole trip was truly an adventure for him!

After a small breakfast of granola bars and fruit, and some coffee that the campground owner had available, we let the fire die out and then said our goodbye’s to Jimmy. He was heading towards the Tribal Park for the day then onto other sites during his 3 week trip to the US. Some of the best parts of trips like these are meeting new people from all over the world and different cultures. It had been fun talking and getting to know him.

The campground owner, who was himself a Navajo, was nice enough to tell us we can go for a walk towards one of the buttes if we wanted. There was a dirt road we could follow. This was great! We were going to get to take a small hike in the valley after all! We packed up all our things into the car, got a few bottles of water to take with us and then went for a short walk in the valley.

Since we had a lot of other stuff to do that day, we didn’t go too far, maybe half a mile, but it was enough to get a small experience of being surrounded only by desert grasses and red sand and rock. We didn’t see any animals, but we did come across one thing you see in the wild west: bones!

Mitchell Butte
Going for a walk towards Mitchell Butte.
Monument Valley water reservoir
There was a water reservoir here. In the middle of the desert!
Bones in Monument Valley
Bones! We found dried desert bones of a horse skeleton!

Closer towards the butte there was actually a small water reservoir, surprising to us, but the Navajo who live in these lands actually get their water from underground springs in the area. After we got some pictures of the horse skeleton, we turned around and went back to camp to continue on our western road trip. Onto the Four Corner’s!

Monument Valley desert road
On our way back to camp, and the rest of our journey out west!
Campfire with friends Monument Valley
It’s the best part about trips like these; getting to meet and talk to people from all over the world and learn about each others cultures.

If you’re looking to read about the history on the area before you go, check out this book: Monument Valley: The Story Behind the Scenery

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18 thoughts on “Monument Valley Camping and Places to Stay”

  1. Okay so now I want to hear more about Jimmy and what he got up to next! Do you have any of his contact info? Haha. The spam story really tickled me!
    On another note, your photos are incredible!! I really want to go here now!

    • No unfortunately we didn’t get his contact info 🙁 I’m kicking myself for not asking him too, could have sent the photo of us all and stuff. And thanks I’m happy you like the pictures!

  2. woow Far West feelings!!! I have seen this place so many times in movies and series, I would love to visit!! I admit I would be a little afraid of camping in the middle of nowhere but the experience itself might be so unique!! I bet that the sky at night might be something from another level!

    • I hope you do get to visit one day! It’s really not scary at all because you’re in a campground with other people around, and can light a fire which is very welcoming. The sky was amazing, and I was really set to get more pictures and try to get a pic of the milky way, but then the clouds rolled in 🙁

  3. This is my kind of adventure! I LOVE camping, especially in the U.S. that’s my favorite thing about back home was camping around our National Park. I love the part about he Spam haha and your honest account. Your photos are amazing too. Happy Camping!

  4. I have yet to try glamping and/or head to Monument Valley so this was timely to hear more about this newly used word! I love how you let the Asian gentleman join you and that he brought Spam meat to the fire. It does sound like a great place and I do like the fact that your site had a shower with running water.

  5. That’s a good suggestion for non campers, to stay at the hotels 20 minutes away and save a little in hotels. You guys had an interesting experience around the campfire, it ended well though with a hot dog! I’d love to visit Monument Valley with my camera, your photos are wonderful!

  6. Beautiful photos. I’ve never been glamping before, only camping but I think I’ll have to try it when I visit Monument Valley. I haven’t seen most of the southwest, including the Grand Canyon, but I plan on doing a two-week road trip next year (all my vacation time is accounted for this year).

    • You’ll love it! There’s so much to see out west and the landscape is so different too if you’re from the East coast.

  7. This is so wonderful, totally a bucket list of ours. We usually love to go camping so this sounds like an amazing plan. The Bones are so creeping yikes! Great adventure guys!

  8. I love (and sometimes hate) camping! Mainly, like you said, it’s meeting new people around a campfire, sharing stories, food and beers with strangers, and seeing the stars in the pitch black of night. This looks like a great place to camp!

  9. What an amazing experience! Glamping is so up my alley, and especially with Monument Valley as your background. Your experience is awesome – to have a tent with 2 beds, colourful blankets and even a couch – amazing! Your story about the campfire with the man from China is hilarious! It’s funny that experiencing American food has been classified to Spam Meat! But wow your capture of the stars at night and then sunrise is just magical. I would love to experience this one day.

    • Thank you! Yeah it’s funny how outsiders see us or our culture some times in ways we’d never imagine lol. I do hope you get to go there one day, it truly is worth a stop if you’re out west or going to visit the Grand Canyon(Monument Valley is 3hrs away).

  10. I consider you guys very brave for doing this. I guess I am a glamour, if I glamped at all 😉 I am in awe of those sunset photos and that beautiful photo where you caught the stars. I guess that’s a very good reason to go here despite everything else you guys experienced. To be honest, I may never camp (its not who I am) but I know so many devouted campers, I think they would love to do this.

    • To be honest I’m completely new to camping. I do plan to get us a tent and sleeping bag, etc and go camping this year to save on money….but the only real “roughing it” part of this camp trip was the outhouse I’d say lol. But for a night it wasn’t really so bad 🙂 And thank you, I’m glad you liked the pictures!


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