VALLEY OF THE GODS: Next on the Western tour agenda was to visit the Valley of the Gods. Truly a wondrous place. We stayed at our favorite place in Bluff, Utah called the Cottonwood RV Park . It is a sweet little picturesque place run by a family. It is a small friendly community. Right behind the camp are gorgeous sandstone bluffs next to the San Juan River which designates the land where the Navaho reservation is. I was sad to hear the owner tell of how she has lost 17 of her friends due to Covid.
This little town is a great base to visit the Valley of the Gods which is only a few minutes down Rt. 163 south. We passed the entrance to the Valley twice we could not believe this was really a passable road. I would say a regular car on this road even a minivan might have a hard time. You need something with large tires like a truck or an SUV or 4-wheel drive. Coming from the East Entrance, the first half is fairly easy the road becomes more challenging as you progress. It is worth the effort though. I was spellbound by the monumental red-rock formations. Buttes and towering pinnacles of deep reds, pinks and orange colors due to the oxidized iron delight the eye. The Cedar Mesa sandstone dates back over 250 million years. I love the names they have been given such as: Seven Sailors Butte, Castle Butte, Sitting Hen Butte, and Lady in the Bathtub. The Navajo interpretation of the Valley of the Gods rock formations means that they “are places of power in which spirits reside.” They believe that these buttes are Navajo warriors frozen in stone, who can be appealed to for protection – they are guardians whose power and strength aid young servicemen and women going to war.”
Our favorite place to eat is at the Twin Rocks Cafe located at 913 East Navajo Twins Dr. The location is spectacular. You can see why it got it’s name. Just up the road from the cafe is the upscale Desert Rose Resort & Cabins. My daughters would love to stay here as they hate camping. I noticed there is a new school in Bluff which is very good thing. I hope that they do not change the character too much though because right now it is just a nice mix of the old and the new.
The wind was fierce and in no way could you set up an easel, so I worked from the front of the truck sketching. “These monumental formations are sculpted from Cedar Mesa sandstone dating to the Permian period, around 250 million years ago. Eroded by water, wind and ice over millions of years, the rock was carved into the unique buttes, monoliths (single massive stone or rock), pinnacles and other geological features as seen today.”
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.
Above are directions to tour the Valley of the Gods and beyond. There is so much to do and see in this area. I loved Goosenecks State Park but I would not advise going on the Moki Dugway unless you have made your will first. We went on the “Moki” the last time out and trust me it is not for the faint of heart! Extrememly narrow road with many switchbacks and you feel like you are going to fall right off into the abyss but I will say the views were incredible. I prayed the whole time that we would make it down safely.
Your work is magnificent. I hope to see someof the places you have been .
I want to go paint in JAPAN where I was born. Applying to Fulbright U.S. Scholar program to paint”36 Views of Kyushu.”
Thank you. I hope you make it out there some day