Valley of the Gods
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Majestic sandstone monoliths just miles from Bluff
Valley of the Gods is a scenic sandstone valley that features stunning geologic formations. The statuesque formations are sculpted from Cedar Mesa sandstone dating to the Permian period, around 250 million years ago. Eroded by water, wind and ice over millions of years, the rock was carved into the unique buttes, monoliths (single massive stone or rock), pinnacles and other geological features seen today.
Painted with the territory’s famous red dirt, this geological masterpiece, though a quarter of the size of its celebrated neighbor, Monument Valley, boasts a royalty of rich colors and fantastic formations. The formations have been given names such as Rooster Butte, Setting Hen Butte, Balanced Rock/Lady in a Tub by locals. As you drive through Valley of the Gods, think about the names you would give these formations.
The valley’s magic is in its subtlety, as the variety and brilliance of color surprises visitors at every turn, layered with silver brush and sundried desert greens. The Valley of the Gods is truly a geological masterpiece, rightfully earning its reputation as “a photographer’s paradise.”
Tourists will find many scenic locations to stop and explore the landscape, camp among its shadows, and wonder over the ancient cliffs that form the northern boundary of the valley. With Monument Valley taking first prize for fame, visitors encounter fewer tourists while meandering in this vast and open land thus providing a more peresonal experience.
A small cavern at the base of the famously red cliffs running along the north side of the valley provided the location for a helicopter to land in Airwolf (a 1980s TV series) making the spot a notorious location of speculation.
Touring Valley of the Gods
Valley of the Gods is toured via a 17-mile, unpaved loop. The east entrance is accessed off US-163 approximately 15 miles west of Bluff. The west entrance is accessed of US-261. Nearby attractions include the Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park, Moki Dugway and Muley Point.
The 17-mile loop is unpaved, but the graded gravel and clay surface road is suitable for cars when the road is dry. The road has a few sharp turns and crosses several washes.
Valley of the Gods is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Monticello Field Office, Monticello, Utah. Telephone: 435-587-1500.
Driving the Valley of the Gods Loop from the East Entrance on US Highway 163
|0.5 miles||Scenic pull off. The SEVEN SAILORS formation is on your left (west). The SEVEN SAILORS appear to have flat sailor caps.|
|1.5 miles||SETTING HEN BUTTE can be viewed straight in front of you.|
|5 miles||BATTLESHIP ROCK is on your left (southwest).|
|5.7 miles||If you pull over at this point, look in your rear view mirror. The ROOSTER BUTTE, a monolith, will be visible to the south.|
|7 miles||At this point, you begin to circle CASTLE BUTTE on your left.|
|8 miles||The drive around CASTLE BUTTE is complete.|
|15.5 miles||VALLEY OF THE GODS BED AND BREAKFAST/LEE’S RANCH is at this point.|
|16 miles||You have reached Utah Highway 261. Turn left to go to the Goosenecks State Park, US 163, Mexican Hat and Monument Valley. Turn right to go up the Moki Dugway, and access Muley Point and Cedar Mesa. Utah Highway 95 is also to the right, which leads you to Natural Bridges National Monument.|
Driving the Valley of the Gods Loop from the West Entrance on Utah Highway 261.
|Entrance||On your left (north), note Cedar Mesa which rises 1,100 feet above you.|
|Less than 0.5 miles||You have reached VALLEY OF THE GODS BED AND BREAKFAST/LEE’S RANCH.|
|2.5-3.5 miles||The tall monolith to the left (north) is BALANCED ROCK.|
|7.5 – 8.5 miles||The tall monolith to the north is CASTLE BUTTE.|
|9 – 9.5 miles||ROOSTER BUTTE becomes visible to the south and BATTLESHIP ROCK is on the right (southwest).|
|13.5 miles||To your right, you will be passing SETTING HEN BUTTE.|
|15 miles||The SEVEN SAILORS formation with their flat, sailor caps are on the right (west).|
|16 miles||Cross LIME CREEK to reach US Highway 163. Bluff is to the left. Mexican Hat is to the right.|
Source: The Bureau of Land Management’s Valley of the Gods brochure. LINK. Accessed October 17, 2012.