Drive the scenic byways through remote Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods, Utah.
On the Arizona-Utah border, rust-red sandstone masterpieces mark one of the most photographed destinations in the United States. Just off Highway 163, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park's* 17-mile loop road snakes around towers and buttes formed by erosion, deposits, and a shifting surface. Guided tours from Navajo operators take visitors to landmarks not seen from the road, like Ear of the Wind. *Editor’s note: Monument Valley is currently only admitting two vehicles per hour, due to a 50 percent occupancy limit. Visitors should be prepared for long wait times and inclement weather. There is no guaranteed entry; Navajo Tribal Parks close once they hit capacity limit.
An hour north is a similar landscape in Valley of the Gods, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. State Route 216 leads to the Moki Dugway, a switchbacking scenic gravel drive that climbs (or falls, depending on your direction) 1,200 feet over three miles. This road was built in the 1950s as a route for hauling uranium and vanadium from Cedar Mesa to Mexican Hat, Utah.
The drive is safe for most cars, with the exception of long vehicles and vehicles pulling trailers. The panoramic views of the valley can be admired at several overlooks along the steep road.
Explore one or all of the area’s National Parks.
Within the sweeping Colorado Plateau region, there are nine national parks: Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Each offers an entirely different experience from the next.
Of these, Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado was the first established in 1906, and it’s known for well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff and mesa dwellings. Arches and Capitol Reef in Utah were established the most recently in 1971. Arches has more than 2,000 natural stone arches, while Capitol Reef features the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline—essentially a wrinkle on the earth—that stretches for almost 100 miles.
Smart Tip: To plan your visit, download the NPS app on your phone to access maps, activities, and news.