Bunny Visits Valley of the Gods
Everybody knows about Monument Valley, but few people are familiar with Valley of the Gods, located in Utah, just 30 miles northeast of Monument Valley. Bunny had not even heard of the place until a dear friend insisted that she check it out.
Valley of the Gods is a sort of Monument Valley “light”. It is filled with tall rock formations, buttes and red sandstone mesas just like Monument Valley, but it is not quite as striking as its famous neighbour.
Where Valley of the Gods wins hands-down though, is its lack of popularity. If you want to enjoy iconic Southwest scenery without the crowds, Valley of the Gods is your place, Bunny says.
How to Get There
Valley of the Gods is about an hour’s drive from Monument Valley, following US Route 163 northeast. The scenery is stunning all around. About half-way through, you will pass the famous “Forrest Gump Point” - a compulsory selfie spot for any movie freak or fun-loving traveler.
About 10 miles before reaching Valley of the Gods, you will pass Mexican Hat - a rock formation that is named for its likeness to a Mexican sombrero.
If you are approaching Valley of the Gods from the east, it is a 40-minute drive from the small town of Bluff on US Route 163.
The most spectacular way to arrive, however, is from the north: via Moki Dugway.
Moki Dugway is a very special part of Utah Route 261. It is a dirt switchback (zigzag) road that was carved into the cliff edge in 1958 to haul ore from Cedar Mesa to Mexican Hat.
This graded switchback (10% grade) descends 1100 feet in 3 miles and offers wonderful views to Valley of the Gods below.
The narrow and winding road is not recommended for long or heavy vehicles but most cars can tackle it safely, provided weather conditions are fine. The Bunnies managed just fine in a cheapo rental car in dry conditions.
Check out the Muley Point East before you drive down the Moki Dugway. Right near the start of Moki Dugway head west on another gravel road for about 5 miles to catch sweeping views from Muley Point East all the way down to Monument Valley.
When to Visit
Valley of the Gods is open year-round. The land is owned by the Bureau of Land Management and there is no entrance fee.
Bunny went in April, which is one of the best times to visit, along with autumn. Summer can be oppressively hot and winter can bring the occasional snowstorm.
Where to Stay
There is only one place to stay inside Valley of the Gods: the charming Valley of the Gods Bed & Breakfast. It is a historic ranch house in a glorious location, offering solitude, natural beauty and the most amazing starry skies Bunny has seen anywhere in the world.
The B&B is not only remote but also completely off grid, producing its own electricity from solar and wind power. Kudos to the friendly owners for all their eco efforts!
The main building, where most of the rooms are located, is decorated with rustic southwestern charm and carefully selected antique items. The Bunnies slept in a separate stone cottage - a former root cellar apparently - that was a comfortable little hideaway with extra privacy for self-proclaimed recluses such as the Bunnies.
Breakfast is usually included in the room price but for other meals, you will have to drive to nearby towns. Or do as the Bunnies did and come with provisions. The picnic dinner the Bunnies enjoyed on the front porch of their cottage at sunset was one of the most memorable ones (among many!) of their time in Utah.
You cannot book Valley of the Gods B&B online. Go through the extra trouble (Bunny hates booking anything by phone!) and give them a call to discuss your requirements. The B&B has a few rooms only so it’s best not to leave your arrangements to the last minute.
What to Do
Valley of the Gods is a small place and you will easily see all its sights in a day.
Drive the Scenic Way
There is a 17-mile circular dirt road that winds through Valley of the Gods. You can drive the loop in either direction.
If the weather is dry, it is possible to drive the road in a normal car (Bunny did!) but prepare for a dusty, bumpy ride. The good news is that you are unlikely to meet many other visitors and can stop and park wherever your heart desires along the way.
The sandstone formations in Valley of the Gods are pretty unique, with names like Castle Butte, Sitting Hen Butte, Seven Sailors Butte and Lady in the Bathtub. It is fun to try and spot them along your drive. There is no information or signs here to indicate which is which.
Go Hiking or Biking
It is also possible to cycle or hike in Valley of the Gods as there are no restrictions unlike in Monument Valley. Bunny saw a few cyclists during her visit. She did not envy them.
There are no marked hiking trails per se but you can explore on your own, hiking close to buttes that pique your interest. Just remember that there is practically no shade here.
Valley of the Gods is most definitely secluded territory. There are no gas stations, stores or services. Come prepared, Bunny says.
Gaze at the Stars
Because of its remote location, far from any light pollution, the night sky in Valley of the Gods is simply incredible! If you have a chance, spend the night here, Bunny says. You will not regret it.
Bunny set her alarm for a little past midnight (yes, people, she goes to bed early…) and was completely mesmerised upon glancing outside her cottage. So much so that she immediately proceeded to wake up Mr. Bunny, who usually prefers sleeping to almost anything else. And even Mr. Bunny was literally star-struck.
And once you are done with the stars, you will have to set another alarm for the sunrise. It’s another glorious site you do not want to miss in Valley of the Gods.
If you love gorgeous scenery but are allergic to crowds, Valley of the Gods is a perfect destination for you. It is easy to add to many Southwest road trip itineraries and one full day is plenty of time to explore the area. But Bunny strongly recommends staying the night as well.