In my opinion, there are few areas in the continental United States that are as jam-packed with incredible landscapes and adventure opportunities than the American Southwest. The area is chalk-full of incredible slot canyons, mesa-filled valleys, amazing rock formations, and some of the most beautiful vistas your eyes will ever see. One of my favorite spots in the Southwest United States is the breathtaking Valley of the Gods in Southern Utah. With this Valley of the Gods guide in hand, you can be certain your trip to this enchanting place will be one you will never forget.
As you drive thru this spectacular desert valley, you will be mesmerized by the gigantic rock mesas that rise above the valley floor. The valley is infamous for being one of the most remote and beautiful spots in all of the United States, with thousands of hikers, campers, and outdoor adventurers flocking to its remote trails and rough roads each year to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life and get in touch with the most beautiful scenery that nature has to offer.
In my Valley of the Gods guide, I will provide you will all of the information that you will need to plan a fun and memorable trip to visit this incredible place. I explain the best way for travelers to get to the valley from outside the state or outside the country, outline the best times to visit, highlight the top things to see and do while you are there and give you my suggestions on the best things to see and do outside of the valley while on your trip. With this information in hand, it will be easy to plan a trip to see the Valley of the Gods that you will remember for a lifetime.
How to Get There
The Valley of the Gods is located in the southern part of the state of Utah in the American Southwest. If you are planning on travelling to the area from elsewhere in the United States or from outside of the country, there are a number of cities in the region that have large international airports. The closest international airports in the region are either the Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) in Albuquerque, NM or the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) in Phoenix, AZ. However, depending on what else you plan to see on your trip, there are other airports in the area that are within a day’s drive of the Valley of the Gods. For more information on airport options, I have included a regional map for you to review in my Valley of the Gods guide below.
For travelers who will be in the southern Utah or northern Arizona or Nevada area and would like to add a visit to the Valley of the Gods to the travel itinerary, I have included a map and table in my Valley of the Gods guide below that outlines some of the key cities in the area to assist in making your travel plans.
|Moab, UT||122 miles||1hrs 30min|
|Durango, CO||143 miles||3hrs|
|Grand Junction, CO||235 miles||4hrs 15min|
|Albuquerque, NM||302 miles||5hrs 15min|
|St. George, UT||309 miles||5hrs 30min|
|Santa Fe, NM||329 miles||5hrs 30min|
|Phoenix, AZ||400 miles||7hrs|
|Las Vegas, NV||427 miles||7hrs 20min|
|Denver, CO||477 miles||8hrs|
|Colorado Springs, CO||456 miles||8hrs 15min|
Top Things to See and Do
One thing that the Valley of the Gods is definitely not in short supply of is incredible things to see and do. In addition to its many amazing views, the park is also a great place to do some hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and camping. Whether you like to get out and be active in your travel explorations or just enjoy seeing the beautiful views from the comforts of your car, there is plenty to do for all types of travelers. If you are starting to plan your trip and would like to know which sights and activities in the Valley of the Gods to add to your itinerary, I have included my picks for the top things to see and do in my Valley of the Gods guide below.
Drive the Valley of the Gods Loop
One of the most popular things to do when visiting the Valley of the Gods is to drive the loop road and take in all of the breathtaking views of the valley. The 17-mile loop road is made of primarily gravel and clay, so be sure that you are prepared and access the conditions of the road before setting off. When the weather is dry, the road is typically graded enough that it isn’t an issue for most vehicles to traverse the road. However, after heavy rains, the road can get quite rough and may only be passable with a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance.
The road can be accessed from either Utah Highway 261 (roughly 10 miles northeast of Mexican Hat, Utah) or via U.S. Highway 163 (about 15 miles west of the town of Bluff, Utah). Be prepared to spend between 1-2 hours driving the loop road, depending on how many times you want to stop to admire the incredible buttes that you will pass. For more details on the loop road, please refer to the map that I have included in my Valley of the Gods guide below.
While there are no marked trails within the Valley of the Gods, it is an absolutely beautiful place for backcountry hiking if you have the knowledge and experience with pathfinding and navigation. From the road, there are several incredible buttes within the valley that you can hike to and explore. The valley is located on BLM land, so backcountry hiking is permitted. However, you should always be respectful when hiking and practice leave no trace measures to ensure this beautiful landscape stays beautiful for future hikers.
Because the Valley of the Gods is so remote, the area offers some of the absolute best stargazing in the continental United States. For this reason, I would strongly recommend camping out near the valley if you like to camp and are able. At night, the desert comes to life with the sounds of wildlife and the nighttime skies are typically breathtaking. However, you should be aware that you are at altitude, so the nighttime temps can get quite chilly, even during the summer months when the daytime temperatures are hot.
Try Mountain Biking
If you like to mountain bike, then I can think of very few places more beautiful to set off on your bike than the incredible Valley of the Gods. The 17-mile loop road may not be challenging from an elevation gain standpoint, but the views you will encounter are unparalleled. For those who have their bikes and are looking for a fun early morning or evening activity, biking the loop road within the Valley of the Gods is a great adventure.
Drive the Mosi Dugway
For those who have the nerve to drive it, one of the most incredible segments of road that you will ever encounter is located adjacent to the Valley of the Gods. The Moki Dugway is a 3-mile long, unpaved road that was dug directly out of the gigantic Cedar Mesa. The road is very steep, with 11% grade in certain segments, and is white knuckle inducing during even the best weather.
However, for those brave enough to navigate the dugway, some of the most incredible views of the Valley of the Gods can be seen from the viewpoint on top. This is also the quickest way to get from the Valley of the Gods to Natural Bridges National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument and vice versa. Believe me, if you take your time and drive carefully, the views are absolutely worth it!
Best Time to Visit
Average Temperature (°F)
Southern Utah is a unique environment because most of the area, including the Valley of the Gods, is on a high desert plateau. Some parts of Southern Utah, including Cedar Breaks National Monument, are over 10,000-feet (3,048-meters) in elevation. While the Valley of the Gods isn’t quite that high, at 4,300-feet (1,310-meters) it is still much higher than sea level. This means that the area gets extremely hot during the summer months and can be quite cold during the winter.
For instance, during the summer months of June thru August, the high temperatures can reach 100’s Fahrenheit. During the winter months of December thru February, it isn’t uncommon to have low temperatures below freezing. So, if you are planning your trip to the Valley of the Gods, you will want to review the temperature chart in my Valley of the Gods guide below to know what type of temperatures to expect when you visit.
Average Precipitation (Inches)
While understanding the average temperatures of the area is important when planning a trip to see the Valley of the Gods, it is even more important for you to understand the average precipitation levels before planning your trip. As is true with any region that has slot canyons and washes, avoiding the times of the year when the area gets the most rain is critical. Rain can cause flash floods in slot canyons, which turns them into death traps, and can make the gravel roads in the area virtually impassable. For that reason, I would strongly recommend avoiding the late summer and early autumn months of July thru October if you want to have the best chance of avoiding the rain. Instead, I would target the early spring months of April and May.
Where to Stay
When visiting the national parks, monuments, and other areas of interest in the United States, it is a really neat experience to camp out during your visit. Some of the best campgrounds in America can be found inside the country’s national parks, monuments, recreation areas, and surrounding areas. This is especially true in Southern Utah. The extra dark skies in the area make it a great place to stargaze. If you are interested in camping out during your visit, I have included a map and list of some recommended campgrounds for you to review in my Valley of the Gods Guide below.
If camping is not your speed, you need not worry as there are a variety of good hotels for you to choose from in the area as well. In fact, nearby cities like Kayenta, Blanding, and others have a wealth of reasonably priced hotel options for you to choose from. If you are in the process of planning your trip to Southern Utah to see the Valley of the Gods, then you are in luck. I have included a map and list of recommended hotels at different price points for you to review in my Valley of the Gods Guide below.
Other Things to See
Few areas in North America are as beautiful as the canyon-filled deserts of the American Southwest. Not only is there a seemingly endless supply of incredible landscapes to marvel at, but there is no shortage of amazing activities in the area to keep you busy as well. If you are planning an extended trip to Southern Utah and are looking for some additional stops to add to your itinerary after you have visited the Valley of the Gods, I have included links to some guides that you might find interesting in my Valley of the Gods guide below.
|Monument Valley Visitor Guide|
|Leprechaun Canyon Trail Guide|
|Comprehensive Antelope Canyon Guide|
The Valley of the Gods is a very beautiful and picturesque place. If you are interested in seeing more of this beautiful place, I have included some of my favorite photographs that I took during my visit in a gallery for you to review in my Valley of the Gods guide below.
If you would like to view some more of my top photos from this trip, as well as photos from some of my many other travel adventures, make sure you are following me on Instagram as well!