Connect with us


You Will Find Ancestral Puebloan Ruins in This Intriguing and Lesser-Known Stretch of the Arizona Desert

Suny Errot



Many tourists who visit Arizona would most probably have the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, or the Sonoran Desert at the top of their list. But did you know there is an interesting place called Mystery Valley? You will find some Ancestral Puebloan ruins, natural arches, and box canyons in this lesser-known destination. We are telling you, it’s worth the trip!

You Can Only Access Mystery Valley If You Have a Navajo Guide

Mystery Valley Arch az

Source: Instagram

Let’s get one thing straight. We want to tell you more about the Mystery Valley, but you should know that you can’t access it unless you have a Navajo guide. This is a section of Monument Valley that is home to several sensitive archaeological sites. There are also some Navajo families living there who prefer not to be disturbed. Not to mention, the roads to the Mystery Valley are very poor with deep sand. There aren’t even any markers or signages to help you navigate around. You can easily get lost.

This Is a Relatively Unknown Area, but It’s Really Intriguing!

Mystery Valley arizona

Source: Instagram

If you want to go on a crazy adventure, you might as well visit a lesser-known stretch of the Arizona desert, right? Well, Mystery Valley is definitely a must-see. It boasts many beautiful geological formations, including petroglyphs, artifacts, and stunning views of the wide open spaces of the desert. You will even see the spectacular buttes of neighboring, and more famous, Monument Valley. Coming here (with a Navajo guide) will give you the opportunity to see the ancient indigenous ruins that will really amaze you. If you think the Casa Grande Ruins is already interesting, just wait ’til you visit this place.

As for the history of Mystery Valley, many geologists believe that the place was once completely underwater long ago. Like many other beautiful destinations in Arizona, this, too, is a remarkable formation resulting from the work of millions of years of slow erosion by wind and water. Some historical accounts also say that Mystery Valley, along with much of the American southwest, was home to the Ancestral Puebloan people from around 100 B.C.E. to 1300 C.E. When these people departed the area some 500 years ago, they didn’t just leave their settlements, but also some everyday items.

The Diné or Navajo tribe from northwestern Canada occupied this area after the Ancestral Puebloan people moved south. They are settling in Mystery Valley and much of the surrounding territory. This is why the place is only accessible when accompanied by their guide. Mystery Valley is protected under their tribal law.

You Need to Do a Bit of Walking Before You Can Explore Mystery Valley

Walking in the Desert

Source: Instagram

There are tour providers who would gladly take you around Mystery Valley. However, it’s not really well-received or popular with tourists because you need to do some walking and rock scrambling before you can see the best sights. But think about it. The best things in life require a bit of effort, so before you say no to touring this lesser-known place, ask yourself if that’s what you really want. The advantage of visiting is that you won’t er other visitors on your tour of Mystery Valley.

The guides on the tours will also share some immersing personal stories in this land. You will learn more about the Navajo way of looking at the world and their way of life. If you decide on going on a tour, you should allot between three and four hours. Some visitors also recommend scheduling a sunset tour because that’s when the Monument Valley views become much more breathtaking.

Remember, the Navajo people believe this place holds great spiritual power. They say you will gain a feeling of peace and tranquility, so just be present at the moment.

You Will Probably Think You’re in a Martian Landscape

Martian Landscape Arizona

Source: Instagram

You’re not. It just looks like a Martian landscape because of the strange rock formations and the scattered desert plants.

We understand that being in a sacred and historical place such as this will make you feel as though time has literally shaped it. If I were you, I’d just enjoy looking at the petroglyphs and artifacts.

What can you find here? Some of the famous natural arches in Mystery Valley are the following:

Honeymoon Arch Mystery Valley

Source: Instagram

Honeymoon Arch. There’s a chance you might have already heard of this natural arch before. Many visitors love posing in this area because of the awesome rock formation.

Full Moon Arch. This is a natural arch that eroded in DeChelly sandstone. It is actually located in a wide side canyon of Mystery Valley, but the area is now fenced off and has a locked gate. There might not be a tour that will take you here, but if you wish to go into this side canyon, you better have a knowledgable guide who knows how to get through the locked gate.

Square House Natural Arch or Cly Arch. This is a double pillar arch that is also not included in the regular Mystery Valley tours.

The Spectacles. These arches got their name from their appearance because they look like spectacles. You can find this in a wide side canyon of Mystery Valley, but it is also fenced off with a locked gate.

Mystery Valley Tour Details

Beautiful Rock Formations desert

Source: Instagram

The Mystery Valley Tour price starts at $90 per person for the regular daytime Tour (minimum of two persons). If you want to catch the sunset during your visit, the price is $95 per person for the Sunset Mystery Valley Tour (minimum of two persons). Lastly, you will be able to fully explore this hidden land in the Private Mystery Valley Tour priced at $125 per person (minimum of two persons).

These prices are subject to +6% Navajo Nation Tax. Please also note that there will be an entry fee to the Monument Valley Tribal Park. It is not included in the tour cost, and is payable as you enter.

Mystery Valley Tour: https://www.navajospirittours.com/mystery-valley
Location: Kayenta, Arizona

Do you want another interesting read? Check out 10 things people from Arizona absolutely love. You will also be love the 10 towns in Arizona with the funniest names.