Did you know that Monument Valley has a little sister called Valley of the Gods? You must be thinking “All right, even if it does exist, who knows in what remote corner of America this mysterious Valley of the Gods must be”! What if I told you it is 30 minutes or less from Monument Valley? Then, what if I also told you that visiting it is completely free and that the restrictions the Navajo impose in Monument Valley are not enforced here? I know, I know, the description is intriguing indeed, especially if you consider that these are just some of the advantages of visiting Valley of the Gods.
In this article, we want to tell you all about Valley of the Gods, an authentic hidden gem of Utah. We will show you how to get there, what to do, the limitations you may experience when visiting the valley and with what other points of interest you can add to your road trip.
Monument Valley to Valley of the Gods: Directions
To visit the Valley of the Gods you must reach the spectacular Valley of the Gods Road, a dirt road that is well-maintained, preferably in a 4×4, but you can also drive on it with other vehicles if the terrain is in good condition. Here are the directions to get there:
- Most likely, you will decide to go to the Valley of the Gods while on a West Coast road trip, after visiting Monument Valley. Those coming from Page or the Grand Canyon should use Kayenta as a reference point, a small town southwest of the Valley of the Gods. From here, take US-163 and follow it for 50 miles, passing Monument Valley. The junction to the Valley of the Gods is here, 7.5 miles after the tiny town of Mexican Hat, famous for the sombrero shaped rock formation nearby.
- If you are coming from the northeast, maybe after having gone on a tour of the parks in Utah around Moab, you must travel 17 miles past Bluff. Drive a short distance on US-191 and at the first fork, continue straight on US-163 (you will know you are on the right road if you see the signs for Mexican Hat). 12 miles from the fork, turn onto Valley of the Gods Road on your right. Here you will begin your adventure in the heart of the Valley of the Gods.
Valley of the Gods Road: What to See?
Valley of the Gods Road is a 17-mile long dirt road that weaves through the heart of a desert territory where rock formations similar to those found in the Monument Valley – which are much better known – are clearly visible, such as mesas, pinnacles, monoliths and rocks shaped by erosion and by the elements over millennia that started 250 million years ago.
Along this road, it is possible to stop at various overlooks, which offer splendid views. In addition, unlike the Monument Valley, you can walk into the valley and get a closer look at the various rock formations – which are at some distance from the road – although the area is not guarded and the trails are not marked. One of the most fascinating advantages of visiting Valley of the Gods is that there are few tourists, nothing in comparison to the number of tourists that visit Monument Valley. Here you can get out of the car, sit on the rocks and observe the view in absolute silence, interrupted only by the sound of wind. It is very unlikely that you will hear any cars pass by.
For those who plan on camping, you can pitch a tent in the Valley of the Gods and sleep under the stars. The Navajo gods and goddesses will watch over you. However, you must be completely self-sufficient, whether you sleep in the valley or not! Bring water and food, because there are no visitor centers or other facilities along this route.
Valley of the Gods Utah Map
Visiting the park is very simple, just drive along the main road (Valley of the Gods Road) to visit the following viewpoints one by one, where you can stop to take some pictures:
- Seven Sailors Butte: the seven sailors of the Valley of the Gods will be the first to greet you;
- Setting Hen Butte and Rooster Butte: you’ll see these gnarled rock formations towering in the valley 3 miles from the start of the road;
- Franklin Butte: after another 2 miles, you’ll see it on the left. It looks like sentinel that is on guard, defending the entire valley;
- Battleship Rock: still on a military theme, the Battleship Rock really looks like a majestic red rock warship… You’ll notice it on the left, a mile from Franklin Butte;
- Castle Butte: after 1.86 miles, you will find Castle Butte, and the name speaks for itself…it resembles a castle in the middle of the desert!
- Lady in the Bathtub Butte: last but not least, on the right side of the road you will see in the distance the rocky outline of a woman taking a bath in the tub.
After this butte, for the last 5 miles, the panorama will be more boring and the road continues until it connects with SR-261.
Attractions Near Valley of the Gods
The Valley of the Gods Road is not a loop, so when it finishes, unless you want to drive all the way back, you’ll have to go back another way. You’ll do it by turning left into UT-261 southbound. After a few miles, you will get back onto US-163 S and head towards Kayenta, Monument Valley or, before reaching these destinations, to Goosenecks State Park, another natural wonder of the area not to be overlooked.
Moki Dugway and Muley Point Overlook: Only for the Brave…
If you have time and you’re up for it, in addition to visiting the Valley of the Gods, you can drive along… Moki Dugway, a marvelous panoramic road that is known to be daunting, perhaps even dangerous. Watch this video to get an idea. When you come to the end of Valley of the Gods Road, turn right. After about a mile or so, you will start driving up the Cedar Mesa on a very steep, narrow dirt road without guardrails (if you come from the north, you will have to go downhill on the Moki Dugway, which may be an even more thrilling experience).
Consequently, it will be very challenging to travel on this road in cars without four-wheel drive, especially if the road conditions are compromised by rain or snow. However, if you are driving a 4×4 or a tall car, you can drive it to the top and reach also Muley Point Overlook, a viewpoint not too far away, from which you can enjoy exceptional views of the San Juan River, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Monument Valley and see as far as Arizona and Colorado.
Where to Stay near Valley of the Gods
If you plan to stay in the area, you can find accommodations in one of the locations we have already mentioned in our article about where to stay in Monument Valley. If you are headed north to visit the parks of Utah (Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef…), you can look for accommodations in Monticello or Moab, depending on how close you want to get.