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John Wayne’s Monument Valley Horseback Ride

Monument Valley Horseback Ride, Arizona

~ 2022 Dates to be Announced Soon ~

Price Per Person: $2,395.00

A Historic & Scenic Arizona / Utah Horseback Ride and Tour into Film History

  • John Wayne's Monument Valley Horseback Ride

~ All Rides are Suitable for All Riding Levels – from the Novice to the Advanced ~

Monument Valley, Arizona

Ride into film history during our four-day John Wayne’s Monument Valley horseback ride and tour.  Our focus will be on the scenic and stark beauty of this American West icon, her Native American cultural history and the location sites of the many John Ford / John Wayne movies filmed in the area.

We’ll ride deep into “John Wayne Country,” located in the heart of the Navajo Tribal Park, where few individuals’ ever journey – or are even invited. Off the beaten path our horses await, in a colossal, nature-made corral, surrounded almost three hundred and sixty degrees by towering, twenty-story tall, red sandstone boulders.

Here lives our knowledgeable Navajo guide – featured often in local and nationally recognized magazines and the very best Navajo guide in the valley.  Born and raised in this barren valley, her stories of life as a child is fascinating.  As a young background actor, she worked on several of the films made locally, such as Cheyenne Autumn.  Rumor has it her mother served as a guide for John Ford.

Not only does she know the film locations we wish to see, she’ll take us to the valley’s hidden Anasazi ruins, give testament to the Ancient Ones culture with her descriptive narrative, lead us on trails and dried streambeds that give up chards of ancient pottery to be seen and remembered – but not disturbed – and through narrow canyons, under natural rock arches, and up to the highest vistas. If we’re lucky, she’ll grant us the privilege of visiting her Hogan and see, first hand, life in the valley – past and present, with and without electricity and running water.

This is the West… the Real West… the Reel West… the holy grail of Western settings.  More Western movies have been featured here than any other site in the United States.

It doesn’t get much prettier, grittier, or awesome than Monument Valley.

We’ll headquarter at the historic Gouldings Lodge and Trading Post, where the John Ford Company was housed so many years ago.  Here you’ll be able to visualize John Wayne, as Capt. Nathan Brittles, step out of his cabin and button his shirt from She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, or stand in the spot where the stagecoach belonging to Lt. Col. Owen Thursday, played by Henry Fonda in Fort Apache, roared past the old trading post as a backdrop.

If you love those John Wayne / John Ford movies filmed here, then our John Wayne Tour and horseback ride is for you.

The region, located on the northern border of Arizona and southern border of Utah, near the Four Corners area, lies within range of the Navajo Nation Reservation.  Monument Valley means the valley of the rocks (Navajo: Tse’ Bii’ Ndzisgaii) and is characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 feet above the valley floor.

Horseback riding in Monument Valley - John-Wayne-Monument-Valley-Ride---01COST:  $2,395 per person

  • Initial Deposit:  $750 per person, non-refundable deposit required to book your reservation
  • Final Payment:  Due 90 days prior to ride
    • $600 per non-riding spouse – see below for non-riding spouse itinerary
  • Click Here to Book This Ride

Ride Includes

  1. Trained horses (you’ll be matched to a horse based on your riding abilities)
  2. Tack (use of personal saddles okay)
  3. Wranglers (they do all the work)
  4. Navajo Guide / Historian (she is as good as they claim!)
  5. Three meals a day (sack lunches for saddlebags when riding)

Ride Does Not Included

  • Transportation to and from Monument Valley, Utah
  • Hotel accommodations —
    • I highly recommend Gouldings Lodge (435-727-3231 /www.Gouldings.com) | Note: if you call for reservations and the front desk doesn’t recognize “Great American Adventures” or asks you for a “code” (there is no code), ask to speak to Brad Upshaw, the Group Sales Manager.  Training new staff is always underway it seems.
    • Here we will have our breakfasts’ and dinners’ (lunch will be on the trail). 
    • It was here John Ford & John Wayne stayed.
    • There is also a movie museum here and the set from one of Wayne’s films.
    • I have a number of rooms blocked at Gouldings Lodge for our group.  
    • Gouldings Lodge fills up quickly – with or without us.  Call Gouldings and make your reservations as early as possible.
    • Mention Great American Adventures so they know to take the room from the block of rooms reserved for us.
  • Arriving by RV?  Contact the campground manager, at 435-727-3231, ex: 2

Airport Information

Monument Valley is in a remote and undeveloped part of the country, with no major nearby airports.   The nearest major airports are:

  1. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: located 300 miles south in Phoenix, AZ /about a 5 hour drive;
  2. Albuquerque International Sunport Airport: located 330 miles southeast in Albuquerque, NM / about a 5 hour 45 minute drive.
  3. The McCarran International Airport: located 375 miles west in Las Vegas, NV
  4. Salt Lake International Airport: located  400 miles north in Salt Lake City, UT.

Horseback riding in Monument Valley - Monument Valley Ride - 01Horseback riding in Monument Valley - Monument Valley Ride - 2Suggest   Period clothing… though not mandatory, dressing in “period-clothing” makes these rides more fun, more adventurous, sets the “mood” and makes for great photos ops!!  Try it!  Don’t spend lots of money unless you want to … I make several recommendations on the Dress Code site where to purchase these items. Dress warmly for this ride!!


Surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of this region, we’ll specifically focus on the films of John Ford and John Wayne.


  John Ford filmed a total of seven movies here including these four with John Wayne:

Horseback riding in Monument Valley - Monument-Valley- Movie Posters

  • 1939 film Stagecoach – nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director;
  • 1948’s Fort Apache;
  • 1949’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon;
  • 1956’s The Searchers

~ I urge you to watch a few of these movies… you will definitely recognize these sites during the ride ~

Some of the other movies filmed here also include:

  • 1946’s My Darling Clementine;
  • The Eiger Sanction;
  • Wagon Master;
  • Easy Rider;
  • Once Upon a Time in the West;
  • Mission Impossible II;
  • The Marlboro Man cigarette commercials;
  • How the West Was Won;
  • McKenna’s Gold;
  • The Trial of Billy Jack;
  • 1981’s The Legend of the Lone Ranger;
  • Back to the Future II and III;
  • 2013’s The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp (in which I was a background actor); and,
  • Seth McFarland’s A Million Ways to Die in the West (in which I was a background actor).


Early November is an ideal time to see Monument Valley.  The weather – cool and crisp – is perfect for riding.  Tourists have gone home, leaving this beautiful valley all to ourselves.  Very important… Gouldings Lodge will have rooms available for us.

Note: Non-Riding Spouses:  The area is limited to what to see and do in and around Gouldings Lodge.  There are no planned activities.  For your convenience, click on the sites below to assist you:


  1. Arrive Monument Valley
    1. Check into Goulding’s Lodge, 1000 Main Street
    2. This will be our headquarters for the week.
    3. We’ll also have our breakfasts’ and dinners here.
    4. Contact them at 435-727-3231 / www.Gouldings.com
  2. 4:30 PM – “Meet & Greet” outside in front of the Movie Museum, next to Goulding’s Restaurant.
  3. Dinner will be served inside Goulding’s Restaurant immediately following visiting the museum and requisite “Group Photo.”
  4. 8:00 PM – For those interested, a John Ford / John Wayne movie will be shown!  In fact, a different movie will be shown each night.

Tuesday – Friday

  1. After breakfast each morning, we’ll carpool out to our horses waiting for us deep in the valley.
    1. I work with only the best wranglers, hand-picked by me, that know their horses and choose horses for you based on your riding abilities.
    2. We’ll mount and allow our Navajo guide – also the best in the area – to take us on an adventure I have personally requested.
  2. Tuesday Night – Dinner at Goulding’s Lodge
  3. Lunch everyday is on the trail.
  4. Wednesday – “John Wayne Day” – wear your best cowboy / cavalry attire – make the Duke proud!!
    1. For women too!!  Dress like a female or male character from one of Duke’s movies.
    2. For the last couple years we made this “Cavalry Day” – given enough participants – and we looked awesome!
    3. Extra Points: Dress every day like a character from one of “Duke’s” Westerns!
  5. Wednesday Night – Dinner at Goulding’s Lodge
  6. Thursday Night – will be a special outdoor cookout for everyone, including our non-riding spouses (weather permitting).
  7. Friday Night – Dinner at Goulding’s Lodge   
    1. Costume Contest Results for the best looking “John Wayne” dressed character from a Wayne film.
    2. And/Or… the best female dressed character from a Wayne film.
      • The winner will be judged on what was worn for the week; extra points given for “John Wayne Day” on Wednesday.
    3. Program Finale!!

Saturday Morning: Hotel checkout!!



Horseback riding in Monument Valley - Monument Valley Ride (3)

“C’mon Pilgrim… let’s Ride!”



Horseback riding in Monument Valley - John Ford and the American West


Join us on this historic Wild West horseback ride and tour in Monument Valley, Utah / Arizona