The elevation of Monument Valley is over 5,000 feet, and the entire region is within the Great Basin Desert. There is little wildlife to speak of in this area. In the summer, temperatures can soar into the 90s, but the winters are cold, with the average low temperature in December, January, and February in the mid-20s. Monument Valley is completely within and surrounded by the Navajo Indian Reservation, and the closest major city to it is Flagstaff, Arizona, which is 175 miles away. The fantastic buttes and mesas, which are shaded red, are all that remain of the layers upon layers of sandstone that at one time covered the whole region. Over time, erosion created its present-day appearance, which has been described as resembling other planets due to its eerie look. The only highway through Monument Valley is U.S. 163, which hooks up with U.S. 191 in southeastern Utah.
The dirt road that takes visitors into Monument Valley is best traversed by four-wheel drive vehicles. There are jeep tours that people can take into the area to view some of the more incredible sandstone formations. Navajo guides will readily take tourists on these adventures for a fee. There are at least a dozen such services that provide access to the sights, including Sacred Mountain Tours, Homeland Tours and Totem Pole Tours. Horseback tours of Monument Valley are also available for those who wish to see the scenery in this manner.
Biking is not allowed in Monument Valley, and any hikers who wish to explore the region must employ the services of a guide. One of the most popular activities for visitors is a hot air balloon ride over the area. The restrictions on these rides include an age limit--children must be at least five years old--and if you are pregnant you will not be able to take such a tour. These balloon rides take place from May through the end of September.