Saturday, September 30, 2023


Incredible campground, sightseeing and history in Monument Valley

As we meander our way up north, we had an amazing short stop at Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation, Utah. I was awed well beyond my expectations. While the drive on US 160 from Flagstaff, Arizona, was winding and a little bumpy, it was so worth it. For years I have seen spectacular, otherworldly photos and postcards of Monument Valley and longed to go in person. For those of you who have been there, you know.

Goulding’s RV campground

We stayed for three nights at Goulding’s RV park and although it was a bit tight between sites, the scenery more than made up for it. The park was immaculate, had full hook-ups, and was well thought out with laundry, showers, and a magnificent trail. This is the view from our campsite!

Photo Credit Nanci Dixon
Monument Valley. View from Goulding’s RV Park
Hiking trail

The hiking trail wove through the ridges and led to the main lodge and a grocery store. The lodge area had a gift store, restaurant, museum, a very small theatre, and the cabin that was in John Wayne’s movie “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.” Only the outside of the cabin was filmed in the movie. The inside was still filled with potatoes and onions!


The museum had Navajo artifacts and photos of the movies filmed in Monument Valley. The admission fee was donation only and it went to the local high school. The theatre showed two very beautiful slide shows and John Wayne movies at night. I never knew so many movies were filmed in Monument Valley.

It was all a bit kitschy and old touristy, but entertaining.

Cabin in the John Wayne movie “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”

As breathtaking as the scenery was, the highlight of it all was a tour by a Navajo guide to a traditional hogan and two-and-a-half-hour tour among the monuments. The tour, at $79 each, was a splurge, but it was so worth it. I knew that this stop was a once-in-a-lifetime one. Found out later that the three-and-a-half-hour tour would have taken us further into the backcountry to petroglyphs and ruins. No matter, it was still perfect.


We saw many hogans as we traveled through, some traditional with mud coverings and some modern. Traditional hogans are constructed with cedar logs, ranging in size from large at the bottom to smaller at the top. The hogans are nine-sided to represent the nine months needed to have a baby, representing life. Our guide explained the young girls’ coming-of-age ceremony and pointed out the use of the items on the rug. He explained that an authentic Navajo rug has a white line woven in at the top to let the spirits go out of the rug.

Navajo hogan courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Monument Valley hogan

The drive through the monuments was spectacular. The road is open to all vehicles, but I was very glad we were in the tour truck. The road was filled with potholes, ridges and spine-rattling dips. Only a few cars actually attempted the road.

Gas stations and towns are few and far apart, so it is good to fill up when you can. The grocery store in Goulding had everything we needed and was reasonably priced, too.

If you go, allow enough time to savor the history and heritage of the Navaho peoples and the magnificent landscape.

All photos copyright Nanci Dixon 2023 unless otherwise stated.


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


5 7 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 months ago

We were at Monument Valley for the first time few weeks ago. Somewhere I read about a dry camping spot called, Rent a Tent. I called and was told RVs were welcome to dry camp at $25/night. Thankfully I had an address because there was no signage, just a rundown old office. As we pulled our 35’ motor home and toad car in, it looked a little sketchy as the dogs came our to “greet” us. It end up being the most peaceful campground that we’ve stayed in. It was just us and our friends. The young man who runs the place had a fire pit all set up for us and we became friends with his five dogs. Not sure if it will be around long at just $25/night and no signage but by all means stay there if you can. It’s only about two miles from the entrance to Monument Valley Park.

3 months ago

We were there in April of this year. Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods were just spectacular! Side trip (2 hours each way) to Antelope Canyon in Page, Az. will blow your mind as well.

Christine D
3 months ago

It’s been several years since we’ve been there and it is a beautiful place to RV camp. We had our 3 small dogs with us and we wanted to take a tour of the area. I easily found a private tour and we could take the dogs with us. The private tour was not much more than the group tour and we really enjoyed it!

Neal Davis
3 months ago

Thank you, Nanci! This is just the sort of thing that DW adores (I like it too, but barely so, in comparison). I will save your article to whet DW’s interest at the appropriate time — when we easterners plan a trip to “the west.” Thanks again and safe travels!

Ben Gohlke
3 months ago

Went there last year. Definitely worth the trip. Yes, the sites are pricey as well as the tours, but sooo well worth it, and most all that money goes back to the Navajo. Spend the money, its worth it! We did the all- day tour and were not disappointed. Afternoon took us to an incredible area of canyons and beautiful scenery and no people! We were the only ones on this leg of the tour so had a wonderful time with our tour guide. Mexican Hat and the Goosenecks just North are also worth the stop- camping at Goosenecks is on my next trip through!

3 months ago

Went there, stayed there, bought the t-shirt. It is beautiful and vast. The wind can be vicious and raises walls of sand.

Just a few miles away is Valley of the Gods, another very bumpy trail but worth seeing! Beautiful views.

john W & lana S stahl
3 months ago

Stayed at KOA at Monument Valley. It was nice. Went to Monument Valley twice. In summer we drove thru and it was hot and dusty but still great. In fall we took the tour by Indian lady guide. She was great and tour was good. Took us to places we did not see on our own drive thru tour. Eating at the lodge and looking out on valley was nice. Other beautiful sites outside valley worth seeing too.

Leslie P
3 months ago

Always order a Navajo Taco when you are there. You won’t be disappointed! Goulding’s restaurant serves a very good one.

3 months ago

Great article-thanks!

3 months ago
Reply to  Christine

Agree. Love the pictures.

3 months ago

Monument Valley, with a few nights at Gouldings, was in our travels last year. It is absolutely one of the top memories of all our travels. We drove our toad through instead of paying for the tour because we had our dogs with us. We stopped and talked to the Navaho who were set up selling items, and learned more about their history and culture. It was an amazing stop! I enjoyed reading about your experience because it was different than ours. Thank you for a great article about an incredible location.

Dr. Mike
3 months ago

Holy inflation, Batman! $110 a night for a pull-thru! Of course, it is cheaper than the $123/night KOA. Even dry camping in the area is $90/night. I think this one will be dropped from my bucket list….

3 months ago
Reply to  Dr. Mike

Stay in Bluff, UT at Cottonwood RV Park. The 3 hour sunset tour was incredible and our drive through Valley of the Gods was beautiful.

3 months ago

I wish you would stop writing articles such as this, you are adding to our growing bucket list! 😉. Thank you for including the personal perspectives! (and keep writing please).

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.