32 Reasons to visit Monticello

Just a few conversations from when I told people we were going to vacation in Monticello.

"You are going where?"



"What's there?"

When we got to Monticello:

"Where are you from?" Apparently, I don't look like I'm a local.

"Be sure to eat before pm, many places close or may be closed for the Easter Holiday."

"There isn't much to Monticello the city itself, but there is so much to do OUTSIDE!"

When I plan a trip, I get on Pinterest, Google Maps, city websites, ask a local (if I know one)... you get the idea. I'm not a huge planner, but I do like to have the big picture of what there is to do, so I can spontaneously plan what I want to do. Get it? That being said, it was kind of hard to find out what there was to do in Monticello. I couldn't find out too much online. Come to find out, it's because I'm not a local. Unless you live there, you can't really find out. So we partnered with the Canyon Country Discovery Center & Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn (both locals) to get all the deets. Apparently, Monticello is all about the great outdoors.

When people say "Southern Utah" we always assume St. George or Zion National Park, not many of us think about the whole eastern side of Utah. Everyone knows about Moab, but hardly anyone goes south of there. Well my friends, I'm about to change all of your minds. While there isn't much to the little town of Monticello, it's a great hub for an EPIC 3 day weekend trip. (Actually, I've already added more items and there are obviously way more than just 32 things to do.)

This three day itinerary is going to blow your mind. Bear in mind that we started most of our days around 10-11am (most places there don't open until 9 am) and have two kids under the age of three. While you don't need 4 Wheel Drive to get to Monticello, many people bring their ATV and 4 Wheel Drive vehicles to play! My husband and I both wished we had brought our truck. But don't worry, we had plenty to do and wished we cold have done more in our short time. So here we go.

Day 1

  1. Lunch/Breakfast from Peace Tree Juice Cafe
  2. Visit The Canyon Country Discovery Center & Grounds Salt Project's Visit here. (Book an outdoor adventure with them! Climbing Wall, exhibits, picnic, Gift Shop.)
  3. Drive by Church Rock (You can't miss it, it's right where 191 and 211 meet.)
  4. Drive to Newspaper Rock
  5. Family Friendly Hike (Take any of the dirt side roads nearby Newspaper Rock.)
  6. Drive the many side roads.
  7. Drive by the Monticello LDS Temple
  8. Hotel check In at Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn
  9. Dinner at Horse Head Grill​

Peace Tree Juice Cafe

Canyon Country Discovery Center

Canyon Country Discovery Center

Church Rock

Newspaper Rock

Family Friendly Hikes (Guided by Canyon Country Discovery Center)

Horse Head Grill

Day 2

  1. Wake up from Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn
  2. Breakfast at Peace Tree (Again, because Yum. Try the Coconut French Toast and an Autumn Rush Juice!)
  3. Visit The Frontier Museum
  4. Fishing at Lloyd's Lake
  5. Hike Butler Wash - Anasazi Ruins (1 mile hike on some slick rock.)
  6. Drive/Hike Natural Bridges National Monument (Utah's First National Monument)
  7. Drive Moki Dugway -Find the GeoCache! (We drove a Camry down this steep, windy hill, but be sure to know about weather conditions that may affect the road.)
  8. Quick Stop at Gooseneck State Park
  9. Drive through Valley of the Gods
  10. Drive by Mexican Hat Rock formation
  11. Watch Sunset at Monument Valley
  12. Dinner at the View.
  13. Drive back to Moab under all the stars.

Do you see the horse head?

Peace Tree Cafe

Monticello Frontier Museum

Butler Wash

Hike Natural Bridges National Monument

Drive Moki Dugway

Drive through Valley of the Gods

Visit Gooseneck Valley

Drive by Mexican Hat

Watch the sunset at Monument Valley. (Forest Gump ran here you know.)

Take the drive back through starry skies. (Starry Sky photo from Canyon Country Discovery Center. Because I can't take night photos.)

Day 3

  1. Wake up from Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn
  2. Monticello Easter Egg Hunt (Obviously a seasonal thing.)
  3. Quick Breakfast from Gas Station (because, small town on a holiday weekend)
  4. Canyonlands Needles District HERE & HERE
  5. Drive/Hike Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)
  6. Cortez Sculpture Garden
  7. Star Gazing

Canyonlands Needles District

Canyonlands Needles District

Canyonlands Needles District

Canyonlands Needles District

Mesa Verde National Park | Colorado

Cortez Metal Sculpture Park

Star Gazing as far as the eye can see. (Photo from Canyon Country Discovery Center)

Day 4 Coming Home (to Northern Utah)

  1. Wilson Arch
  2. Hole n' 'the Rock
  3. Eat at Milt's Stay and Eat in Moab
  4. Drive through Arches National Park Moab
  5. Thompson Lightning McQueen & Scooby Doo Van
  6. Green River Stops | World's Largest Watermelon | Ratio : Weird Cement Sculpture

Wilson's Arch

Hole N' 'The Rock

Milt's Stay & Eat

Arches National Park

Little town of Thompson

Have I convinced you that Monticello is the place you need to Staycation next?

So what do you think? I'm going to be breaking down each place we went over the next couple weeks, so be sure to come back for some more detail. I'd also love any tips you have or favorite places you've been.

So while the town of Monticello may not be much, it rivals Western Southern Utah and has MUCH to boast about. We'll be back for sure.

More things to do in Monticello, Utah

Helpful Tips

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Nicole (not verified)

Fri, 04/08/2016 - 12:44

Thanks for this! We recently moved from Oregon to Grand Junction, CO. We attend the LDS Monticello temple so frequenting this town just got a whole lot more adventurous!

Kelli (not verified)

Fri, 09/02/2016 - 17:55

I was so excited to see these post about southeastern Utah. I grew up in Monticello and it is a beautiful place with tons to do but is often overlooked.

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