Travel Curious

For independent travelers who want to dig deeper

Photography Guide for Mile Marker 13, Monument Valley Scenic Overlook

Photography tips for making the most of your visit to this iconic location (also known as Forrest Gump Point) that has been the backdrop of countless movies, commercials, print ads, calendars, and much more.

mile marker 13 monument valley overlook forest gump point 1 3


This location has a few names, it was known for a long time by its location — “Mile marker 13“, and also by its description — “Monument Valley Scenic Overlook“, and now thanks to being prominently featured in the movie Forrest Gump, it is also known as “Forrest Gump Point“. This is the place where he stopped running after more than 3 years saying “I’m pretty tired, I think I’ll go home now”.


Whatever you call it, you need to go there, it’s one of the most iconic locations of the southwest and a photography bucket list for lots of people.


The problem is it’s an isolated location so the more you know in advance to help plan your photography strategy before you get there the better off you will be. It is invaluable to know where the different places to shoot from are and what time of day is the best time to be there.


This photography guide has the information and tips you need to make sure you come back with the photographs you wanted to get.



The shooting location and the elements that make up the shot from Mile Marker 13

The classic shot has the straight section of Highway 163 running out to the horizon with Stagecoach Butte to the left, Brighams Tomb in the center and Eagle Mesa to the right.


monument valley scenic overlook map


Basic Information to know about Forrest Gump Point

  • You won’t have any trouble finding the viewpoint, it’s well marked and very obvious, plus there will be other people there when you arrive.

  • There is a lot more traffic on this road than you will expect, even early morning at sunrise there will be cars, trucks, and RVs chugging down the highway from both directions, if you want a picture without any vehicles in it be prepared to wait.

  • Don’t expect to have this location to yourself, no matter what time of year or what time of day you come. This is a popular place, there will be a mix of people, from professional photographers to tourists just wanting a selfie standing in the road or imitating the running scene from Forrest Gump. Most tourists are in and out pretty quickly so be patient. 

  • While it will be rare to find yourself alone here, don’t worry you don’t need it all to yourself, people move in and out of the highway pretty quickly and you can usually find variations to shoot if someone is temporarily right where you want to be or in your shot

people in the road at monument valley overlook

This is typical of what you will see going on


  • There are a ridiculous amount of signs now along the side of the road, every time I come here it seems there are more. Be ready to accept them in your shots, or get good at Photoshop.


This photograph shows you the amount of signs along the side of the roadThis photograph shows you the number of signs along the side of the road at the Monument Valley Scenic Overlook today


Where are the best camera positions?

Camera postions for the best photography for mile maker 13, monument valley scenic overlook


  1. The most popular spot is right in the center of Highway 163. You’ve got to be careful and keep alert, but the way the road is situated you can see the cars coming from the buttes toward you for a long way off. You have to be more careful about the cars coming from behind you from the east, but you have a long line of sight for them also.

  2. Position two is a popular spot to get a composition of the road coming in at an angle, you will often see photographers here set up with tripods.

  3. Position three on the opposite side of the highway is similar to position two but not as popular, you’ll almost always have that spot to yourself.

  4. Position four is moving further down the road from the official Monument Valley Overlook. There is a large pull-out on the right as you go down the road about 1/4 mile, from here you can get a different composition than the typical long road sweeping down in the foreground.

  5. Experiment. That’s half the fun of photography right? There are good compositions to be made just by driving farther away from this point on the highway and by driving closer to the buttes, don’t get locked into just this main pull-off area

Sunrise or sunset?

The camera direction is toward the southwest, and the buttes are side and front-lit during sunrise. The sun sets behind the buttes
mile marker 13 monument valley overlook forest gump point 1 3
Monument valley overlook 1 5

mile marker 13 monument valley overlook forest gump point 1 2The sun sets behind the buttes

Wide, normal and moderate telephoto all have their place here for unleashing your creativity and creating different compositions.
Tripod or no Tripod?
It is up to you, a tripod will give you more flexibility and options for low light, night, focus stacking or bracketing frames for later HDR combining in post-production. During the day you can easily hand-hold your shots. Working with a tripod is one more element to slow you down and take your eyes off the traffic so be careful if you work with a tripod in the middle of the road.
mile marker 13 monument valley overlook forest gump point 2 2
Getting there
Located on Highway 163 at ( 37.101647, -109.990675 )
There are multiple pullouts along the road, the main one has a wide parking area on the south side of the highway and a parking area set off the highway on the north side.
  • From Bluff head west on Highway 163 for 33 miles.
  • From Monument Valley head east on Highway 163 for 13 miles.

First time planning

Ideally, if you have the luxury of time, scout this location toward sunset on one day, try out the different camera positions and get your lenses and compositions sorted, get some sunset and blue hour images. Then return before sunrise the next day for the main event.
If you can only visit the site once, sunrise is the most photogenic time. Get your primary shots first as the sun rises and lights up the buttes, then concentrate on moving around to some of the secondary spots at the main overlook, then move down the road to the secondary overlook.
After that head over to Redlands Overlook and see what you can find appealing there.
Of course, success depends on the weather, while a cloudless morning guarantees the sun shines and bathes the buttes and highway in warm, beautiful light, it makes for a boring sky in your photos. The same can be said of the sunset.
I hope you find this guide helpful and increase your chances of coming back with some great images to be proud of.

Bonus — Redlands Overlook ( 37.065898, -110.044538 )

Don’t just shoot the Mile Marker 13 scenic overlook of Monument Valley and take off.


Before you leave, drive 4.0 miles east (toward the buttes) on Highway 163 and turn left into the Redlands Overlook. You’re looking into the backside of Monument Valley from here. Personally, I think the Redlands Overlook offers more beautiful scenery than Forrest Gump Point, but you will rarely see anyone here.


Park near the buildings and walk out behind them for some great scenery. You can shoot from the higher ground or walk down into the area behind these buildings for quite a distance to create other compositions.

Monument valley overlook 1 The Redlands Overlook
Sunrise from the Redlands Overlook access road from Highway 163 Sunrise from the Redlands Overlook access road from Highway 163
mile marker 13 monument valley overlook forest gump point The back side of the East Mitten in Monument Valley
mile marker 13 monument valley overlook forest gump point 2
Sunset at the Redlands Overlook
Sunset at the Redlands Overlook
Great clouds from Redlands Overlook   

Explore Nearby...


House on Fire Ruin

House on Fire Ruins in Mule Canyon South Fork

There are many ruins in the canyon, but House on Fire ruin is the most famous of them, getting its name from the effects that the sunlight has on the sandstone cliff of the overhang that it is built under

Road Canyon Fallen Roof Ruin 2

Fallen Roof Ruin in Road Canyon

Road Canyon contains many ruins, granaries, and kivas. “Fallen Roof Ruin” derives its name from the elaborate pattern created by the missing sandstone slabs of rock that fell out of the roof of the alcove in front of it.

Butler Wash Ruins 4

Butler Wash Ruins

Choose to view the ruins from an overlook or hike up the wash and explore the ruins close up

Lower Butler Wash Road - Hikes

Lower Butler Wash Road is a unique area of Comb Ridge, home to a dozen unmarked trailheads not published by the BLM or marked with signs. All are short hikes (1-3 miles round trip) that lead to amazing ancestral sites, caves and alcoves with 800-year-old ruins, petroglyphs, pottery shards and more.
Multi-colored hand prints on the back wall

Double Stack Ruin

See a higher and lower set of ruins with painted handprints, metates, rockart and impressive mud mortared rock walled structures still standing

Lower Butler Wash road monarch cave 3

Monarch Cave

Hidden up a side canyon of Comb Ridge is an impressive ruin complex with petroglyphs, pottery sherds, corn cobs, sharpening grooves, and grinding metates.

Butler Wash road wolfman rockart 13

Wolfman Panel

Hike to see multiple rock art panels with one with a unique wolfman like figure, across the canyon are ruins you can continue to

Lower Butler Wash Road Fishmouth Cave 5

Fishmouth Cave

A short easy hike to a large cave with handprints and metates, there are a number of smaller ruins to see along the trail.

Lower Butler Wash Road Split Level Ruin 8

Split Level Ruin

The hike to a ruin split over two ledges is filled with hundreds of pictographs, large rocks covered in metates, sharpening marks, pottery shards, and painted handprints

Goosenecks State Park ...

Scenic Drives...

Recapture Pocket_ 4

Recapture Pocket

This is a little visited but interesting location full of goblins and hoodoos contained in three main groups of formations relatively close to each other

Everything Else...

Newspaper Rock 2

Newspaper Rock

A famous rock panel carved with about 650 individual petroglyphs of abstract shapes and symbols to more recognizable human and animal figures

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Buy Framed Prints

Images on this website are available as framed prints to support running the website
Browse Prints For Sale


Featured Posts