Found midway between Bluff and the Monument Valley Navajo Park, Valley of the Gods is far more pristine and less commercial than the legendary tribal landscape and movie mecca that straddles the Utah and Arizona border. Since early March and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, all Navajo parks have been closed to visitors. Most people who wander into the Valley of the Gods as an alternative to the tribal park agree the scenery equals or exceeds the grandeur of its more famous neighbor to the west.
The towers, pinnacles, and monuments in the Valley of the Gods are free and open to the public year-round. Under the care of the Bureau of Land Management, the area is designated a wilderness location where people are welcome to camp, hike, and explore with no fees attached.
The area was part of the Bears Ears National Monument until the entire 1.35-million-acre designation originally allocated by President Obama was reduced to a small fraction of that size by the Trump administration. There is camping, but visitors must be prepared and self-sufficient; no restrooms, food services, or other amenities are located here. The only development in the area is the charming and world-renowned Valley of the Gods Bed and Breakfast.
A 17-mile gravel and graded dirt road passes through the monuments and buttes. This road is negotiable in passenger cars during dry weather. There are a few sharp curves and hills, but we routinely see giant RVs that find beautiful locations and set up for weeks. The entrance on the east side is from Hwy. 163 near Mexican Hat, and the western end is on Hwy. 261 at the base of the Moki Dugway.
One of the most colorful and fun events of the year in the valley occurs during the Bluff International Balloon Festival, held over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend in January. If the winds and weather cooperate, the BLM allows hot air balloons to launch and land in the Valley of the Gods, a sight that is not soon forgotten. A visit to this remote and beautiful area should be on everyone’s bucket list.