In the past several years it seems that popularity and awareness of the biannual Monument Valley Mitten Shadow event has been steadily increasing. I can’t remember when I first heard of it, but I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I lived in San Juan County, UT over 9 years before I finally made it down to witness it for myself last September!
The Monument Valley Mitten Shadow happens twice each year, first in late March peaking around the 30th, then again in September peaking around the 13th. On these days, and for a day or two before and after, West Mitten Butte casts a perfect shadow upon East Mitten Butte at sunset creating what’s come to be known as the ‘Monument Valley Mitten Shadow’. Adding to the short window that the shadow is visible each year, is the fact that the sky must be clear enough for direct sunlight to be hitting the mittens. If it’s overcast at sunset, the shadow doesn’t happen, so plan accordingly if you’re traveling to the area specifically to witness this event!
When I finally made it down to see the mitten shadow last September, it was only because I had a childhood friend visiting me from Seattle for about 5 days, and her visit just happened to coincide with the event. When I realized this, I knew I had to take her down to see it, so we planned our schedule for the week around it making sure to go the day before the peak, so that if the weather wasn’t good and the shadow wasn’t visible, we’d still be able to try again the next night if we were feeling up to doing the the 3 hr 20 minute round trip drive from Monticello again!
Although Monument Valley is busy pretty much year-round, and there are always quite a few people at the main viewpoint next to the Visitor Center, when we arrived it was obvious that it wasn’t just a normal day in Monument Valley. There were probably 20-30 photographers (not just people with cameras, but professional/semi-professional photographers with lots of equipment!) with their cameras set up on tripods, many of which had multiple cameras to catch a time lapse, as well as other shots of the shadow. I spoke to one of the photographers and he told me that he was part of a photography tour group that was traveling around the Utah & Arizona, and we also saw that Goulding’s Lodge had a special Mitten Shadow photography tour there.
I’m happy to report that the mitten shadow did not disappoint! It was pretty amazing to watch the shadow of West Mitten Butte creep across the valley floor and climb up the side of East Mitten Butte as the sun got lower and lower in the sky.
Monument Valley is already amazing any day and in any weather, so to witness the mitten shadow in person is nothing short of an absolutely spectacular sight to see!
After all that Mitten Shadow viewing, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite! Do yourself a favor and stop by the Stagecoach Restaurant at Goulding’s Lodge and get yourself one of THE BEST Navajo Tacos around! I promise, you’ll be glad you did!
For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386
Or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Distance from Monument Valley to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:
- Monument Valley: 0-13 miles/0-21 km
- Mexican Hat: 25 miles/40 km
- Bluff: 51 miles/ 82 km
- Blanding: 73 miles/ 117 km
- Monticello: 99 miles/ 159 km
- La Sal: 140 miles/ 225 km