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Geologic Masterpiece Just Miles From Bluff

Valley of the Gods

You might ask yourself, “What is Valley of the Gods”?  Valley of the Gods is a scenic, sandstone valley with absolutely stunning geologic formations.  It is located approximately 15 miles southwest of Bluff and about 35 miles from Monument Valley (see directions below).  Valley of the Gods is now part of Bears Ears National Monument.

Visitors will find many scenic locations to stop and explore this special landscape. With nearby Monument Valley taking first prize for fame, visitors will encounter fewer tourists while meandering through Valley of the Gods and can enjoy a more personal experience.  Permits are not required and there are no fees to drive Valley of the Gods unlike Monument Valley.

Locals have given the rock formations in Valley of the Gods names such as Rooster Butte, Setting Hen Butte, and Balanced Rock/Lady in a Tub.  As you drive through Valley of the Gods, think about names you would give to these formations.

Geology

This geological masterpiece, though a quarter of the size of its celebrated neighbor, Monument Valley, boasts a royalty of rich colors and fantastic formations, and is quite stunning.  Valley of the Gods sits at the base of Cedar Mesa. 

So how was Valley of the Gods formed?  First, you should know these rock shapes are sculpted from Cedar Mesa sandstone which dates back to the Permian period, around 250 million years ago.  Second, rocks were deposited by a shallow sea which covered the area at that time.  Yes, you read that right.  There was a sea.

After the water receded, iron in the rocks mixed with oxygen to form rust with rich red and purple colors.  Then, water, wind, and ice over millions of years eroded the stone carving the unique buttes, monoliths (single massive stone or rock), and pinnacles you see today. 

The Valley of the Gods is truly a geological masterpiece, rightfully earning its reputation as “a photographer’s paradise.”

Cinematic Fame

Valley of the Gods has been used as a filming location for two episodes of the BBC television show Doctor Who. A small cavern at the base of the famously red cliffs running along the north side of the valley provided the location for the helicopter to land in Airwolf (a 1980s TV series).

Touring Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods is toured via a 17-mile, unpaved driving loop.  You should plan on at least 1 hour to drive the loop through Valley of the Gods.  See our map of Valley of the Gods Utah below.

The east entrance is accessed off US-163 approximately 15 miles west of Bluff. The west entrance is accessed from US-261. Nearby, must-see attractions include the Goosenecks 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.  After inclement weather, check conditions before trying to drive Valley of the Gods in a passenger car.  Contact the BLM in Monticello at 435-587-1500 for more information.

Permits are not required and there are no fees to drive Valley of the Gods unlike nearby Monument Valley.

Check out our Guide page for guiding companies that offer daytime and sunset tours of Valley of the Gods.

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).
  • Cross LIME CREEK to reach US Highway 163. Bluff is to the left. Mexican Hat is to the right.

Nearby Attractions

Valley of the Gods is a great stop on the way to Monument Valley. Nearby Goosenecks State Park, Mokey Dugway, and Muley Point make a spectacular scenic drive.

General Information

Hours: Valley of the Gods is managed by the BLM and is open year round.

Valley of the Gods has graded gravel and clay roads. Visitors are required to stay on the roads as no off road travel is permitted. In good weather, Valley of the Gods can be accessed by passenger cars. In inclement weather, check with the BLM office to inquire about road conditions.

Fees: None; Permits are not required.

Camping: Dispersed camping is allowed but only in previously impacted sites away from ponds and corrals. Campfires are not allowed.

Restrooms:  None

Directions from Bluff: Valley of the Gods is about 15 miles from Bluff. Head south from Bluff on Highway 191. Continue straight as the road becomes Highway 163. Continue about 12 miles and Valley of the Gods will be on your right.

Telephone: Valley of the Gods is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Monticello Field Office, in Monticello, Utah. T: 435-587-1500