While just about everyone has heard of Monument Valley or seen it in the movies,
few have heard of the Valley of the Gods, forty miles up the road in Utah.
Yet the scenic beauty of both places is spectacular and comparable. We thought
the title "Monument Valley Lite" was appropriate.
Valley of the Gods sits right at the foot of towering Cedar Mesa (photo, left)
which provides a colorful and imposing backdrop. Unlike Monument Valley where you
will find tour buses, crowds, busy guided tours, admission fees, etc., here you will
get a much more natural experience. Here, you will find only a dirt road, few
tourists, and no facilities at all, not even a bathroom.
There are some pullouts,
and some people camp at large, roughing it to enjoy the beauty and quiet. There
are no official trails but the terrain is open and easy to walk across without
getting lost. Also, the occasional jeep trail. Note that the area is bone dry
so always carry water in your vehicle and when hiking. The dirt road is accessible
by most vehicles in good weather (however high clearance is recommended) but
should be avoided in wet weather. You can drive through the valley in a couple hours or spend a day or two.
Actually, there is one place to stay in this area. The Valley of the Gods Bed
and Breakfast is just off the main road and offers the visitor a really
rustic but scenic experience. It does get really hot in the summer so a spring
or fall visit would be much more comfortable. (The weather is more settled in the
There is much to do on nearby Cedar Mesa as well. The mesa is accessed by the
spectacular Moki Dugway, a three mile stretch of dirt road (all vehicles, all
weather) which climbs the 1,200 foot wall in a series of steep switchbacks
with exciting vistas (and convenient pull-offs) the entire way. The photo, left,
is one such view.
Cedar Mesa itself is known for its many scenic canyons which are very rich
in Anasazi ruins and rock art. Most notable is the famous Grand Gulch. You have to be
able to hike in order to reach most of these areas.
The nearest civilization to Valley of the Gods is the tiny town of Bluff. Here you
can get gas and supplies. There are also a few very quaint and nice motels
and decent restaurants. The aptly named Twin Rocks Trading Post, photo left,
actually offered some excellent microbrewery beers at their cafe.
We endured some ferocious spring dust storms during our last visit to the area.
The dust-filled sky did produce a vivid sunset.