What to see and do in Hanksville and Monument Valley: Discover the magic of Utah in two of its most stunning jewels: Hanksville and Monument Valley. These destinations offer not only spectacular natural landscapes, but also a rich history and culture. Prepare for an unforgettable journey where nature and tradition merge.

Hanksville and Monument Valley are more than just stops on the map. They are places where desert landscapes meet the sky, creating otherworldly views. These locations have captured the imagination of filmmakers and adventurers alike, offering a perfect setting for exploration and admiration.

How to get to Hanksville and Monument Valley

Getting to these destinations is part of the adventure. Most travelers opt for a road trip, enjoying the changing landscape. There are also organized tours that offer a more structured experience. Remember to check road conditions and the weather before departing.

Best time to visit

The weather in these areas can be extreme, so spring and fall are the best times to visit. During these months, temperatures are more pleasant and crowds are smaller.

Hanksville: A hidden treasure

Hanksville, a small and picturesque town in Utah, is a hidden treasure in the heart of the red desert. Often overlooked in favor of more well-known destinations, Hanksville is the gateway to some of the region’s most impressive natural wonders. Surrounded by an arid landscape and surreal rock formations, the area offers a unique experience for lovers of adventure and nature. From the stunning Factory Butte, with its whimsical clay formations, to the nearby Goblin Valley State Park, famous for its mushroom-shaped rocks, Hanksville invites visitors to explore the unknown.

It is an ideal starting point for outdoor adventures, such as hiking, cave exploration, and star gazing, thanks to its pristine night skies. The town itself, though small, has a rustic charm, with a rich history linked to mining and space exploration, adding a touch of intrigue and discovery to the visit.

Recommended activities in Hanksville

Explore trails that will take you through stunning landscapes. History enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the local museums, where you can learn about the area’s rich geological and cultural history.

Monument Valley: cinematic landscapes

Monument Valley, a geological marvel on the border of Utah and Arizona, is the quintessential movie landscape. This vast valley, known for its towering mesas and red spires, has been the setting for countless American western movies, symbolizing the essence of the “wild west”. Its reddish terrain, contrasting with the blue sky or dramatic storm clouds, creates an unforgettable backdrop for any film production. The most iconic formations, like The Mittens, Merrick Butte, and Elephant Butte, are instantly recognizable around the world. This valley attracts not only filmmakers but also photographers and travelers, who seek to experience the serenity and majesty of this unique landscape. Monument Valley offers an immersion in a natural environment that seems frozen in time, where the culture and traditions of the Navajos intertwine with the land, adding a layer of depth and meaning to its natural beauty.

Must-Do experiences in Monument Valley

Tour the trails for panoramic views. Guided tours offer a deep insight into Navajo culture. And don’t forget your camera, especially during sunrise and sunset, when the valley is bathed in spectacular colors.

Best places to photograph in Hanksville and Monument Valley

  • Factory Butte: This lone rock formation is perfect for capturing the essence of Utah’s desert. At sunrise or sunset, the colors and shadows create a dramatic landscape.
  • Goblin Valley State Park: With its curious rock formations, this park provides a unique backdrop for creative photography. Ideal for capturing abstract compositions and playing with sunlight.
  • Near Fremont River: The gentle curves of the Fremont River, flanked by canyon walls, provide a beautiful contrast to the arid surroundings, ideal for landscape photographers.
Monument Valley
  • The Mittens and Merrick Butte: These iconic monoliths symbolize Monument Valley. Capture their magnificence in a classic shot from the Visitor Center at dawn, when the first rays of sunlight illuminate the rocks.
  • John Ford’s Point: Named after the famous film director, this point offers a spectacular panoramic view of the valley. It’s perfect for capturing the vastness of the landscape.
  • Valley Drive: Along this 17-mile route, you’ll find numerous spots to photograph. Each turn offers a new perspective of the stone towers and rock formations.
  • Wildcat Trail: This trail allows photographers to get closer to The Mittens and gain unique perspectives. Ideal for sunset photos, when the elongated shadows accentuate the terrain’s texture.

If you love photography, discover our Landscape and Night Photography Workshop in Utah! An exciting nine-day journey where we’ll explore the most captivating corners of Utah under the expert guidance of José D. Riquelme, a renowned leader in landscape and night photography.

Where to stay

In Hanksville
  • Whispering Sands Motel: This cozy motel offers an authentic and comfortable experience, perfect for travelers seeking a peaceful stay. With clean rooms and a welcoming atmosphere, it’s conveniently located near Hanksville’s main attractions.
In Monument Valley
  • The View Hotel: As its name suggests, this hotel offers spectacular views of Monument Valley. Rooms are designed to maximize the landscape experience, with large windows and private balconies facing the famous rock formations.
  • Goulding’s Lodge: This historic lodge offers a variety of accommodation options, from hotel rooms to cabins and campsites. Beyond its rich history, Goulding’s features modern facilities and is ideal for those seeking a more immersive experience in Monument Valley’s culture and landscape.

Where to eat

In both Hanksville and Monument Valley, restaurants range from local dishes to more international options. Try the local cuisine for an authentic culinary experience.

In Hanksville
  • Duke’s Slickrock Grill: This restaurant offers an authentic culinary experience with a menu featuring classic American West dishes. Try their famous “Cowboy Burger” or “Rack of Ribs,” both prepared with a local twist. Don’t miss their homemade desserts, like the apple pie, which is a delight.
In Monument Valley
  • The View Restaurant: Located within The View Hotel, this restaurant serves dishes incorporating traditional Navajo ingredients and recipes. A must-try is the “Navajo Fry Bread,” a light and airy fried bread that can be enjoyed sweet or savory. They also offer dishes like “Mutton Stew,” a traditional stew reflecting the Navajo culinary heritage.
  • Goulding’s Stagecoach Dining Room: Here you can enjoy a variety of American Southwest dishes with stunning views of Monument Valley. A standout dish is the “Navajo Taco,” made with Fry Bread and topped with beans, meat, cheese, and fresh vegetables. It’s a delicious fusion of local flavors and regional influences.

Practical tips for your visit

Remember that these areas are highly visited and protected. Inform yourself about entrance fees and schedules. Also, always travel responsibly, respecting nature and the local culture.

Hanksville and Monument Valley promise unforgettable adventures and breathtaking views. Share your experiences and tips with our community of travelers and continue exploring the treasures that Utah has to offer.