If you've ever wanted to visit the iconic location of Monument Valley in Arizona just over the Utah border, you'll have to do some preparation. There's only one hotel in Monument Valley; The View.
Monument Valley is in Navajo Nation and The View owned and operated by the Navajo. The hotel is careful to respect the culture and people of the Navajo and therefore is unobtrusive... it fits very naturally into a corner of the valley as a mountain descends next to it. While out in the valley, you won't even notice the hotel because it's color and formation blend right in with the rock it is built upon. That really gives it a very natural, respectful feeling making it more experiential than touristy.
Since Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park, there is a $5 entrance fee per person to enter and there is no alcohol permitted. But it's okay. You'll be intoxicated with your surroundings and won't even miss that nightcap.
Last year, my road trip out west took me to Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. Monument Valley, with it's famous buttes and reputation for famous western American movies, is less than 2 hours south of Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, and about 2 hours east of the Antelope Slot Canyons in Page, Arizona. It's an easy shot from Moab down Rt. 191 to Rt. 163 with a couple easy turns and you're there.
I went in early November and the rooms at The View were nearly sold out, even though the high season had ended. The double-edged sword in visiting during the low season, which is typically November through March, is that you have a better chance of getting a room but if you don't book far enough in advance the locally run dive hotels will all be closed until late spring and you'll be out of luck. Unless you don't mind camping. I'll get to that in a bit.
Booking for The View must be done months in advance during May through September. Prices are higher and being the main (and in the off-season the only) gig in town, chances of availability are slimmer. I planned on being there in October but because of the government shut down last October I had to redo my schedule (what with National Parks closed and all) so I was able to book two weeks out, but I checked before my arrival just for kicks and the rooms were completely sold out.... in mid-November. So planning ahead is vital. I would leave at least a month to book in The View at Monument Valley from November - April and 2-3 months during the summer peak season.
As for rooms and pricing, in the off-season they range from $179 (after taxes) to $303 per night. Although in the dead of winter, December through January, you can book a room for $123 to $258 per night. Imagine pricing for the high season........ if you're lucky enough to get a room in say August it'll run you $236 to $371.
The rooms, from top to bottom, are the Premium Star View (3rd floor), Premium Valley View (2nd floor) and Valley View (1st floor) rooms. The higher you go, the higher the price, but the truth is that even the "worst" room has the best view. All rooms are basically the same but for the level and price. Each room comes with a fabulous bathroom, nice bed(s), space and a private balcony overlooking the valley. I'm not the only one saying there's no need to pay $300 for a room on the top floor when the ones on the first level have nearly the same spectacular views.
The View Restaurant is just down the hall and I admit I only ate there once but was happy with it. The service was so-so but I ordered take out, so I could eat from my balcony overlooking the buttes as the sunset. The Navajo Taco is huge... it's 2 meals for a single person... and it was fantastic. By far the best taco of any kind I've ever had. And the Navajo soups are fabulous so don't be afraid to sample. But if the restaurant isn't to your liking... you don't have much choice because there are no other choices! So make the best of it. :)
Just outside of the restaurant is the observation deck, which wraps around to the side of the premises. This is where many famous photos of the valley are taken and serves as a photographer's camp at sunset and sunrise. I was up before 5am to set up my equipment and it took perhaps a minute to get from my room to the observation deck. No need to get up super early to get great shots.
Now if the only hotel in the area has no rooms, the park does allow for camping. Monument Valley's Campgrounds allow you to pitch a tent or park an RV (recreational vehicle) for a reasonable fee (fee list here). There's a store in the registration office, located in The View, for water, ice and other supplies to make your stay more comfortable and a nearby bathroom with shower. Who knows, it might be a more memorable experience to sleep in the valley's floor rather than a hotel, anyway. Certainly less expensive.
So remember..... if you want to visit this iconic location in America's great southwestern desert region, book early! The View is the only show in town and fills up fast!