Monument Valley with kids

What to do in Monument Valley with kids? Monument Valley National Park is wonderful to visit with the family. You have a desert area here with occasional beautiful red sandstone formations standing in the landscape. It sometimes feels like being on the film set of a Wild West movie. There is still plenty to do in the national park area for families with kids as well. We visited this beautiful natural park during our grand tour of America and in this blog we list all of Monument Valley’s children’s activities.

Best travel time Monument Valley with kids

The best travel time to visit Monument Valley with kids is from late March to late May or September/October due to the extreme weather conditions that can play a role here (lots of snow makes it impossible to make the trek through Monument Valley National Park, rain makes it a mud mess and in summer there can be tremendous heat).

When we were there in late March, it was quite cold (we even got out our winter coats again) and there was quite a lot of wind. Be prepared for extreme weather conditions (from super hot to freezing cold). You never know out here in the middle of the desert.

Monument Valley with kids

Transportation in and to Monument Valley

Driving in Monument Valley is most relaxed with a tour or a 4×4 rental car, but getting around in a regular (rental) car is also fine. All other points are perfectly passable with a regular (rental) car or (rental) RV. Most families with kids who tour the western United States start the trip in San Francisko and Los Angeles.

The easiest way is to rent a car at the airport of the city where you arrive. Then you have a car at your disposal right away. At both airports, you can rent a car through Sunny Cars. Sunny Cars has one price that includes most insurance and often the deductible. This gets you ready for your rental car right away. For more information on renting a car in Los Angeles take a look here and for renting a car in San Francisko take a look here.

Monument Valley and its surroundings

Monument Valley National Park is easily accessible from the cities of Page, Moab or Grand Canyon. On the way to Monument Valley, you drive further and further into this iconic landscape. The scenery is truly spectacular with its iconic rock formations. After that, if you are on your way from Monument Valley to Utah, you will also encounter several sights.

The sights listed below are very close to each other by American standards (total less than 2 hours drive), which is very nice for kids anyway in a landscape where you quickly travel long and long distances. This area is incredibly rich in history about America’s first inhabitants.

In fact, Monument Valley is in Navajo country (pronounced Naa-vaa-hoo). Navajo Nation has the largest piece of land still belonging to the original inhabitants of America. All destinations teach you something about the first inhabitants and the settlers who came after. Is your kid still too small to understand anything about America’s first inhabitants? Not to worry, the highlights below are also super fun for little kids.

You can visit these highlights in one day, although that may be a bit tight. For example, our kids entertained themselves in Bluff for over 2.5 hours. You will also need at least 3 hours for Monument Valley National Park if you drive the entire route. If you only drive to the first stopping point, you may have seen it in 1.5 to 2 hours.

Do you really want to do this in 1 day? Then we recommend visiting the Monument Valley Tribal Museum alone with the viewpoint between the hotel and the store in conjunction with Bluff. Below we describe all the sights you can visit in Monument Valley and the surrounding areas of Monument Valley with kids.

Monument Valley with kids

Children’s activities Monument Valley

#1 Monument Valley Tribal Museum

This museum houses an interesting exhibit on the Navajo Indians. In fact, the Navajo Indians played a big role in World War II. Did you know that the Navajo helped the Americans tremendously in World War II? After all, they could tell where uranium sources were.

This was what the Americans needed to make bombs among other things. In addition, this museum features explanations of Navajo code interpreters. They used Navajo language to relay secret messages. The Germans could not unravel this code language. Until well after the war, it was a secret that the Americans used this language in the war. America preferred not to publicize it because it was a very powerful weapon. In fact, it is a language that is barely spoken.

A group of people from the Navajo tribe were chosen and volunteered (paid, of course) to help the Americans. Kids can also get a badge at this museum. The kids then get a booklet with assignments and once they have done them they get a badge. Our kids find this super fun and at every national park in America you have this. Also very educational for kids.

The museum is not part of the national parks, but is really separate from them. Above the museum is a very nice souvenir store, which, by the way, we had our kids walk through with sweaty hands. The handmade items are so beautiful, but also so pricey that you’d rather not knock something over.

If you continue to the back of the store there is a door to the outside between the hotel and the store. This door leads to a balcony from which you have a beautiful view of Monument Valley. For us, it was a familiar picture from the movies. Our kids obviously didn’t know this, but they thought it was really cool to know that several Western movies were shot here.

If you are looking for a nice viewpoint over Monument Valley with kids, this is definitely recommended.

What to do at Monument Valley

#2 Round trip through the landscape of Monument Valley

Two formations in Monument Valley National Park are very well known. These are the Mittens and the John Ford Point. At John Ford Point you have the iconic view and can also have your picture taken on a horse, but be sure to ask clearly about the price. Sometimes they suddenly charge per kid instead of per photo.

You can take the tour of Monument Valley in a regular car if you are careful and don’t hang your car too low to the ground. You can also join a tour. Several tours can be booked (including already from Las Vegas), such as the sunrise tour from Las Vegas. This tour is 3 hours with a guide and you will be dropped back at your hotel in Las Vegas (see blog Las Vegas with kids).

A horseback ride through Monument Valley is also available. This is under the guidance of an experienced rider. It is helpful if you have some experience yourself, though. In addition, kids must be over 9 years old.

If you drive your own transportation through the park, a four-wheel drive does work best. We would advise against doing this with your (rental) RV, even though the entrance does say you can drive the road with an RV. The first bit is okay, but the road after that gets bumpier and bumpier, and after the first lookout point it becomes one-way.

So you can decide to drive with your RV to the first viewpoint and then back (at least if your RV is no longer than 7 to 8 meters). The nice thing on this route is that you have several stopping points with great views. There are also stalls at various points selling souvenirs or drinks. The necklaces sold here by the natives are nicely priced (at least when we were there).

Our kids enjoyed picking out a souvenir each that reminded them of this very special place. The famous movie Forest Gump was also shot here in Monument Valley, although this will tell parents more than kids. This point shows the long road through the desert with the beautiful rock formations in the background. Most up front is the most photographed stop “the Mittens. So called because they look like 2 gloves.

Monument Valley Tribal park charges 20 euros admission per car and 35 euros per RV. This includes the museum and you can ride the tour on your own. Monument Valley is not part of the national parks, so your America the Beautiful pass (see other blogs on national parks in America) is not valid here. However, kids can get a badge as described earlier.

Monument Valley NP with the family

#3 Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods is a good free alternative to touring Monument Valley. It is a scenic route of 17 miles through red rock formations. If you are traveling by RV and are less interested in Monument Valley, we recommend taking this route. Personally, we wouldn’t ride both routes, as it’s a bit of an overload of red rock formations, although it’s really beautiful!

Can’t get enough and do you have enough time? Then definitely go. We felt that one of the routes was just good enough for us. Especially with kids, we wanted to keep a little variety in the program.

#4 Bluff Fort Museum

Half an hour from Valley of the Gods (and less than an hour from Monument Valley Tribal Park) you’ll find the Bluff Fort museum. This museum is super fun for kids and free to visit. In 1879, Mormons moved from Salt lake City to this place on a mission. They settled here in April 1880 with 260 pioneers and the museum exhibits and tells what life was like in those days in a very fun family-friendly way.

We recommend you start with the movie. The film is shown in English, but upon request it can also be shown in German, for example, if you think your kids will follow this better. We just translated the film on the spot. You can watch the film at various places in the museum. It was very hot when we were there and we preferred to sit inside for a while. By the way, you can watch the film outside under a canopy.

The film tells how the missionaries got here. They had to blow up a piece of rock to get to their final destination. You can still hike this Hole-in-the-rock trail, and this trail is a little farther from the museum. On average, they shot up 1.7 miles per day, on a route of up to 250 miles. They were the slowest caravan of settlers ever, but neither had such a rugged route been travelled before.

It also gives great insight right away into the great migration that has taken place in America. In fact, when you get outside there are carts on display. Among other things, carts with tarpaulin, here the kids can climb on to experience what it is like to drive such a covered wagon. There are also stick horses, guns, horses to saddle, lassoes and other toys outside to play with.

What to do at Monument Valley

Further along the grounds are all wooden cottages furnished like the old days (cabins). You can press a button in some of the cabins and the story of the family that lived here will be told. There is also a water wheel in the middle of the property at the beginning of a small river. The very best thing about this little river is that the kids can “sift gold” here.

KInder activities Monument Valley

There are strainers by the river and a tray where kids can take out a linen bag to put their found “gold” in. Our toddler never stopped talking about the gold she had found. Real gold huh, mom! We just let her have it because she is so happy with it!

KInder activities Monument Valley

On the second floor of the museum inside, there are temporary exhibitions. Now there was an exhibition where tools were on display, a spinning wheel, barrels that held beans, a churning machine that still really works and so on. There are also works of art of what a bead must have looked like with the people in clothing from that time.

In the store downstairs, people walk around dressed in clothes from the old days, the time when the first Mormons arrived. These are all volunteers and super nice to the kids. So our kids were given some more “gems” and a chat with them about how they liked the museum.

Monument Valley Family-friendly restaurant

At the back of the store is also a small display of a wagon with dolls and food from the era of the time. There is also the opportunity to have your picture taken in costume. All in all, the kids get a fun insight into what it must have been like in a very playful way. We happened to be listening to the book “the children’s caravan” at the same time at that time. A book that tells of the first settlers moving across the Rockey Mountains into Oregon (from east to west). In this way, everything fell into place for our kids.

Gold was found in the San Juan River (which thus flows near the settlement) at the time when the Mormons had just come to live there. This made the place so attractive that people soon flocked to it from all over the world. Kids found the gold search to be by far the most fun activity at this museum.

To support the museum, we bought ice cream and made a donation. The ice creams here are very reasonably priced, and you make sure the museum can be maintained. It is also possible to buy drinks or snacks here.

Who are the Mormons? Mormons are members from the Church of Jesus Christ. In America, LDS church is often said to mean Latter Day Saints. The Mormons believe there was a special revelation to Joseph Smit, this was a revelation first to the native inhabitants and then to all followers. To that, the Book of Mormon was written in addition to the Bible.

Many Mormons live in Utah. You will therefore find temples in larger towns that are very important to them and in almost every place you will see a church belonging to the Mormons. One of the things that are important to them is that you serve a year as a volunteer and spreader of the word. This museum is also run by Mormon volunteers. The volunteers are super friendly and helpful.

Monument Valley NP with the family

Family-friendly restaurant Monument Valley

In Monument Valley Tribal Park is Hotel The View. At this hotel you can also have dinner with a magnificent view. We also thought the Bluff Dwelling resort looked good with plenty of choices for kids. You can also spend the night in teepees here.

Family-friendly hotel Monument Valley

You can stay around Monument Valley with kids just fine, but there aren’t super many choices in terms of accommodations. We list some well-reviewed options. Press the blue link for more information.

Budget accommodation: La Posada Pintada

Mid-range accommodations: Bluff Gardens

Luxury Accommodation: Bluff Dwellings Resort

For the entire list of family-friendly accommodations near Monument Valley National Park, take a look here.

About the author: this blog is written for Ilse Stelma on IG to follow under traveling_stelmafamily. Ilse has been to 34 countries and she loves to travel with her family. In addition, they love nature, (wild) camping, occasional luxury and places not yet frequented by many tourists.

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