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Valley of the Gods

Monument Valley's Little Brother

Valley of the Gods is a small scale version of Monument Valley, but, without a doubt equally as impressive and beautiful. There is a 17 mile trail winding its way through the Valley connecting Highway 163 to Highway 261 at the bottom of Cedar Mesa.  Although the trail is relatively well maintained, it can be very rough and bumpy and subject to washouts. Some areas have rocks exposed from the shifting sands and scraping bottom is a strong possibility.

There are no tour busses or tourist traps in the area.  There are no gas stations, gift shops, coffee shops, washrooms, and rarely any other tourists.  Most are hesitant to bring their vehicles on the trail. However, the solitude and serenity of the area is well worth the extra hour it takes us to get through it. And, of course, as is always our delight, it leads us right to Highway 261. 

We love to explore and discover new things instead of doing the same thing on our travels, but we have found some areas that we have totally fallen in love with and keep coming back to year after year.  Valley of the Gods is one of them.

Valley of the Gods received incidental fame as the setting for some of the scenes in the 1980s TV series Airwolf; the helicopter that featured in the show was often seen flying into a cavern at the base of the red cliffs lining the north side of the valley.

The location also came to public attention in January 2008, when a coach traveling west along US 163 in snowy conditions lost control during the steep descent from Lime Ridge, veered off the north side of the highway and crashed, ending up right next to the east end of the loop road. A plaque, cross and various artefacts mark the crash site, where nine people died; the coach was returning to Phoenix from a ski trip in Telluride, Colorado.

The American Southwest - Utah

Valley of the Gods Photo Album
Valley of the Gods Slideshow
Valley of the Gods 2008 Slidehow


Valley of the Gods

When researching where the big red rocks were, Karen had come across an area called "Valley of the Gods". So, of course, when we saw the signs, it was hit the brakes and make a right.  It is an eerie, desolate, magnificent landscape and immediately one understands it's name.

The map showed a road - unpaved over the sand. Not knowing where it led, we did not venture too far in - just far enough to know it was somewhere we wanted to come back and explore.


Valley of the Gods

This year we found ourselves at the base of Hwy 261 and the west entrance to the "Valley".

Driving a Chevy Cavalier is not exactly 4-wheeling it, but we made it through the 17 miles of dusty roads, washed out creeks and fallen rocks.

The road had not been graded after the winter and a couple of vehicles were not as adventurous and turned back. I guess size isn't everything. What's a little high-centering here and there? A quick check of the muffler and undercarriage and we were on our way.

2003 and 2005

Valley of the Gods

We didn't drive through Valley of the Gods these years - just pulled off and drove a little way in to look around. Skirting it on two sides still manages to bring a sense of peace to us.  It is truly beautiful.  Much can be seen of Valley of the Gods from highways 261 and 163.


Valley of the Gods

We drove by Valley of the Gods, but we did not tour through it.  It was dusk so spent our time going up and down highway 261 and exploring Muley Point Road.

We also noticed the Gooseneck State Park road and made a note to spend some time touring that area on a return trip.


Valley of the Gods

It's amazing that we can travel all the way to New Orleans and then by careful planning find ourselves in Valley of the Gods on the way home, but that's exactly what we did.  It just didn't seem right that we could go away and not visit one of our favorite places. So, although it was a "destination New Orleans" trip - we ended up in Valley of the Gods again.  It just felt like we were home.

This year we drove the 17 mile trail through Valley of the Gods again.  We had Karen's new vehicle, a SUV, so the worry of scraping bottom wasn't there.  As always, we were in awe and the drive took us about 1 1/2 hours.
Karen noticed that one of the rocks (the one we nicknamed Geronimo) had lost a large piece from the top which actually changed the look of it.  Part of the face has fallen off. We call that rock Geronimo because it looks like an indian chief sitting with his arms crossed. But now he's an indian chief without a nose.


Valley of the Gods

In the morning of June 24th we left Bluff and travelled a couple of miles west to the SE entrance of Valley of the Gods. The last time the Murano had travelled this road was in August the year before, just after a rainstorm and a couple of the runoff areas had been washed out and muddy.

This year, the sun was shining, no other tourists invaded our space and for an hour and a half we had the world to ourselves. We took a multitude of photos and then drove out onto Hwy 261 at the base of the butte.


Valley of the Gods

We headed out with the intention to going directly up Hwy 261 but my car once again went out of control and turned into Valley of the Gods. To our surprise there was water in the Valley - at the entrance. We never have we seen water there before. There hadn't been any rain here in over a week.  Whatever storm had come thru before we arrived must have been a whopper.


Valley of the Gods

It's been quite a few years since I've driven the 17 mile Valley of the Gods loop. I'd forgotten just how spectacular it is. Valley of the Gods is natural and unaltered by man. It seems impossible that there is anywhere left on earth not ruined by man but Valley of the Gods is it. There are no gimmicks, tacky gift shops, stores, signs, human inhabitants or tourist facilities. Valley of the Gods


Valley of the Gods

After a brief breakfast of toast and coffee at the Twin Rocks Cafe, we headed out reasonably early for our tour through the Valley. It had rained a couple of days earlier so there was still some water in the washes. Normally we tour this route and might see one or two other travellers but today it was full of tourists, campers, hikers and a few wide eyed "nervous nellies" attempting to circumvent the rough terrain.


Valley of the Gods

The wonderful thing about Valley of the Gods is that it is not commercialized. There are no park fees, no services, no facilities, no shops or other vendors - and virtually no traffic. It is like landing on another planet - both physically and visually. Located on Navajo Nation Land, and managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Valley of the Gods is a pristine, unaltered, protected area. A 17-mile dirt and gravel road winds through the valley. It is sandy and bumpy, with sharp turns, steep sections, and crosses several ever-changing washes. You simply cannot be in a hurry.

Eroded by water, wind and ice over millions of years, the rock was carved into the unique buttes, monoliths, pinnacles and other geological features. Valley of the Gods is equally as impressive as it's neighbour Monument Valley. The formations have been given names such as Rooster Butte, Setting Hen Butte, and Balanced Rock/Lady in a Tub.


Valley of the Gods

With all the water run off, I was leery about heading into the Valley of the Gods but in the end, it was in very good condition - better than some years we've driven over it. There was a bit more traffic than usual and this is the second year I've seen photography groups. Also, there were many campers. Some years there have not been any.


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