Saturday, February 24, 2024

Valley of the Gods – Visiting Utah’s Backcountry • PhotoTraces


Valley of the Gods was unplanned and, kind of, unintended discovery that occurred just a few years in the past throughout one in every of my earlier journeys to the southwest. I used to be conscious of the realm and even flagged it on the map, however I used to be completely sure that I might not have time to swing by the valley. 

Valley of the Gods (Utah)- Visiting Utah's Backcountry

That yr I had two huge targets to perform in jap Arizona: to swing by the elusive Canyon de Chelly and to go to the Monument Valley in Utah for the primary time.

Once I arrived on the Canyon de Chelly early within the morning, my plan was to dedicate a complete day to photographing the lesser-known Nationwide Monument. After sundown, the plan was to drive to the motel in Bluff to organize for the subsequent day’s journey to Monument Valley. 

After mountain climbing half the day in Canyon de Chelly and having fun with the right summer season climate, the Canyon was hit by a sudden and really sturdy storm within the early night. The wind was so highly effective that I used to be afraid of flipping my rental SUV. I had no selection however to depart the realm early and begin driving towards Bluff. 

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As I approached Bluff, I spotted that the change in plans left me with none concepts for a sundown location. I wanted to decide quick. It simply so occurred that the Valley of the Gods was the closest flagged location on my customized Google Map. So, with out anticipating a lot, I drove to the valley. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 1
Rudolph and Santa Claus rock formation

A lot to my shock, the Valley of the Gods grew to become essentially the most attention-grabbing discovery of my complete journey. 

What’s the Valley of the Gods?

The Valley of the Gods is a backcountry scenic space in southeast Utah. It’s positioned south of the Bears Ears Nationwide Monument and east of Monument Valley. 

Valley of the Gods
Valley of the Gods

It’s well-known for its scenic rock formations, that are much like Monument Valley and are unfold round a comparatively small space of public land. It’s managed by the Bureau of Land Administration and, consequently, provides some benefits in comparison with different locations positioned on Indian reservations. 

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For instance, each Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly are positioned on the Navajo Nation land and visiting each parks comes with many tribal restrictions. Essentially the most vital restriction for adventurous vacationers is that you simply can’t discover the realm by yourself; you should be accompanied by a Navajo information. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 2
Jap a part of the Valley of the Gods

The Valley of the Gods doesn’t have such restrictions. Entrance into the valley is free. You do not want a allow to go to the Valley and you’ll discover the realm by yourself, any manner you need.

Since solely a tiny portion of vacationers who come to Monument Valley is conscious of the Valley of the Gods, it provides a way of remoteness and solitude. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 3
Tornado gravel street of the Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods (Utah) Dust Highway

The one strategy to discover the Valley of the Gods is to take the grime street that connects Freeway 163 and Freeway 261. It’s a 17-mile clay and graded gravel street that’s comparatively flat and broad. It doesn’t require a excessive clearance or 4×4 car. You possibly can drive it with any rental automobile.

Valley of the Gods Dirt Road
2×4 Rental SUV

However, like most clay roads in Utah, it turns into impassable when it’s moist. It’s prudent to cease at any Bureau of Land Administration workplace to inquire about street situations and the climate forecast. 

You possibly can enter the Valley of the Gods from both Freeway 163 or Freeway 261 and drive it clockwise or counterclockwise. I’ve pushed each instructions and don’t see any benefits to 1 over the opposite. 

Valley of the Gods Dirt Road (gravel and clay)
Valley of the Gods Dust Highway (gravel and clay)

Valley of the Gods Tenting

You might be allowed to camp within the Valley of the Gods; you don’t want a allow. Tenting is just permitted in beforehand impacted areas. Don’t forget that it’s dispersed tenting with out water or amenities, which implies you should be ready and totally self-sufficient. 

Canine are allowed however campfires will not be. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 4

Valley of the Gods Climbing

Climbing is permitted wherever within the Valley of the Gods. The problem with this freedom is that the valley doesn’t have any established trails. You need to create your personal itinerary. 

In my case, it was a collection of quick walks from the aspect of the street towards attention-grabbing mesas and buttes. Generally, I walked across the formations looking for the very best perspective for my pictures. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 5
You might be free to stroll as much as the Woman within the Bathtub rock formation

Valley of the Gods Map

Once I drove alongside the Valley of the Gods grime street for the primary time, I had no thought what to anticipate so I merely tried to get pleasure from the brand new expertise. Solely later did I uncover that nearly each mesa, butte, and cliff within the Valley of the Gods has its personal title, comparable to Setting Hen Butte, Rooster Butte, Seven Sailors Butte, De Gaulle and His Troops, and Woman within the Bathtub. 

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I returned to the valley as soon as extra to make sure I captured essentially the most attention-grabbing landmarks. Later, I mapped them into Google Maps, which I’ve shared right here that will help you plan your journey to the valley. 

Here’s a map with essentially the most attention-grabbing rock formations within the Valley of the Gods. 

Locations to See Across the Valley of the Gods

In the event you plan to make the Valley of the Gods a part of your subsequent journey itinerary, you also needs to make time to go to two different attention-grabbing spots close by. 

Moki Dugway

Moki Dugway is positioned a mile from the western entrance to the Valley of the Gods. It’s three miles of 11% gravel switchbacks that climb the Cedar Mesa. It was initially a part of an ore mining operation however now serves as a public mountain crossing. 

Moki Dugway (Utah)
Moki Dugway

From the highest of the Moki Dugway, you’ll get pleasure from a wide ranging view of the Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley within the distance.

You possibly can spot all of the named mesas and buttes within the valley and see the winding grime street you simply traversed. 

Valley of the Gods - Visiting Utah's Backcountry 6
View of the Valley of the Gods from Moki Dugway

Goosenecks State Park

Goosenecks State Park is positioned 9 miles from the western entrance to the Valley of the Gods. It’s most likely the smallest state park I ever visited. 

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The primary attraction of the park is the overlook on two big bends of the San Juan River. The dimensions of the view is superb and unprecedented. 

Goosenecks State Park
Goosenecks State Park

The go to to Goosenecks State Park will take an hour, at most, however it’s a must-see vacation spot.

Valley of the Gods | Ultimate Ideas

The Valley of the Gods in Utah is a formidable and distinctive panorama that needs to be explored by anybody searching for a really fascinating expertise. Highlighted by its pink sandstone buttes, mesas, and hoodoos, this area is among the most gorgeous locations within the Southwest. Whether or not you intend on tenting, mountain climbing, or just taking within the views, the Valley of the Gods provides one thing for everybody.

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