Valley of the Gods
By David Gjestson

Remote in southeast Utah, this beautiful collection of sandstone monoliths, mesas, pinnacles, and spires cover 152 square miles. This gem was 250 million years in the making and is managed as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern by the Bureau of Land Management. A 17-mile dirt/gravel looped road provides free vehicle access and offers permit-free camping anywhere along the route.

Located 15 miles west of Bluff, Utah and seven miles east of Mexican Hat, Utah, there is no easy way to get here for recreation. Utah access by air is to Salt Lake City and then enduring a six-hour cross-country drive through Moab and south. Arizona access by plane is to Phoenix and then by auto north two hours to Flagstaff and then northeast another fours to the Valley of the Gods trailhead.

Since I was located in southern Arizona at Rio Rico, my best route was north through Phoenix to Flagstaff in five hours and staying overnight there before continuing on to my destination. Because I would pass through the huge Navaho Nation Reservation and the Monument Valley Park, I took advantage of the two-for opportunity and will include the park in a separate narrative.

Road view The Navaho Reservation covers one-third of the
130,000 square miles of the Colorado Plateau

Arriving at the Valley of the Gods east access, I was a bit nervous driving my Honda CRV on the 17-mile rugged dirt/ gravel road because of the trailhead warning sign encouraging four-wheel drive use and a clear caution not to drive at all in wet conditions. However, while gutting out driving over standing water in a stream bed at the start, I found the road graded and well maintained for the duration of my visit.

The 17-mile access road was graded and well maintained.

All of the bluffs, mesas and spires along the way were
massive and stunningly beautiful!

Can you tell what this pinnacle is called?

Now you should clearly see that this is called the Lady in the bathtub.

Even at its 4,300-foot elevation, hiking is easy in this relatively flat terrain and I had no worries about rattlesnakes on my trip because it was 46 degrees at the time (rattlesnakes are denned up when temperatures dip below 60 degrees). While I saw plenty of deer and lizard tracks, I didnt see any wildlife in the three hours I spent in the area. No doubt because animals in this stark environment are very aware of human disturbances and avoid the road area or hide well before people show up.

While I enjoyed a few short exploring hikes, trekkers have an unlimited
opportunity to poke around miles of trackless terrain.

If camping isnt your thing, I was rather surprised to discover an old ranch, bed and breakfast establishment about one half mile before I exited the west entrance. If you looking for a quiet stay away from people, traffic, lawnmowers, and the Internet in favor of a beautiful mountain environment, bird songs and solitude, then Google up, Valley of the Gods Bed and Breakfast or the funky motel in nearby Mexican Hat.