Julie United States 12 Comments

If you are visiting the American southwest and are looking for scenic drive, consider Valley of the Gods. Located near Monument Valley, this area is filled with buttes and mesas and tall rock formations. It doesn’t quite pack the “wow” punch like Monument Valley, but the Valley of the Gods is still a worthwhile visit.

Entrance to the Valley of the Gods is free. This land is owned by the BLM, the Bureau of Land Management. A 17-mile loop courses through the Valley of the Gods, taking visitors past rock formations with names like the Seven Sailors Butte, Castle Butte, Sitting Hen Butte, and Lady in the Bathtub.


Valley of the Gods is visited by just a fraction of the people who tour Monument Valley. So it’s quiet, uncrowded, and a bit more “wild” feeling. You can drive the entire loop in about hour if you are quick or go slower, enjoy the many scenic views as the terrain changes. Camping overnight in the Valley of the Gods is also an option.

While in Valley of the Gods, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

Is Valley of the Gods Worth It?

We visited Valley of the Gods as a quick excursion from Monument Valley. With a name like Valley of the Gods, it sounded pretty spectacular. Is it as awesome as it sounds?

We enjoyed our drive through the Valley of the Gods. The scenery was beautiful and we liked feeling like we were out on our own, but it can be a small letdown after amazing Monument Valley. Monument Valley is the big winner when it comes to jaw-dropping vistas and iconic American landscapes.

However, if you like leaving tour groups behind and want a quieter experience, put Valley of the Gods on your list as a place to visit. Just a handful of people seem to make it here, providing a much different experience than the constant stream of cars touring Monument Valley.

Old Tree

Getting Here

The Valley of the Gods is located in Utah, just north of Mexican Hat. From Monument Valley, it is 32 miles away, about a half hour of driving.

From Monument Valley, drive north on US-163. The entrance into the park is just a few miles north of Mexican Hat.

There are two entrances into the Valley of the Gods. The east entrance is on US-163. The west entrance is on US-261. A dirt connects these two entrances. You can drive through the Valley of the Gods in either direction. We chose to start at the east entrance from US-163.

Road Conditions

The 17 mile road through the Valley of the Gods is a graded gravel and dirt road. You can do this drive in a car. A 4×4 is not necessary.

During wet conditions, this road may be impassable, even if you have a 4×4.

We had an SUV with 4×4, which was necessary for other roads we would drive during our road trip through Utah and Arizona.

4x4 Valley of the Gods

What to See Along the Way

Many of the buttes and mesas are named. If you want a full driving guide, check out this post which gives a map and driving directions through the park.

The best part of the drive is around Castle Butte, when you are closer the mesa walls and the rock formations tower above you. In general, the desert scenery is stunning. On a clear day you can see Monument Valley on the horizon.

Desert Landscape Utah

Valley of the Gods Utah

Valley of the Gods Drive

Castle Butte

Valley of the Gods Road

Side View Mirror

Utah Travel Guide

Other Attractions Near Valley of the Gods

Goosenecks State Park. Goosenecks State Park has an overlook with not one, but two “Horseshoe Bends” side by side. It’s just a 5 to 10 minute drive from Valley of the Gods.



Mexican Hat. This rock formation is named for its Mexican Sombrero-like appearance. You can see it from US-163 on the drive to the Valley of the Gods. If you want, you can hike up onto the formation. If you have rock climbing equipment, it is possible to climb to the top of Mexican Hat.

Mexican Hat

Hiking Mexican Hat

Tim hiking Mexican Hat


Forrest Gump Point. Located on US-163, the famous view of Monument Valley featured in the movie Forrest Gump is not to be missed. GPS coordinates: 37.101393, -109.990973.

Forrest Gump Point

Monument Valley. Of course, there’s the stunning and very popular Monument Valley just down the road.

More Information about Utah & Arizona

AMERICAN SOUTHWEST ITINERARY: On the ultimate road trip through the American Southwest, visit the Grand Canyon, Utah’s Mighty 5, and several awesome state parks. Get the full details in our American Southwest Itinerary.

MONUMENT VALLEY: Get the details on what to do and how to plan your visit in our Guide to Monument Valley. We also have information on Teardrop Arch and a sunrise photography tour of Monument Valley.

GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE: In Grand Staircase-Escalante, drive Cottonwood Canyon Road, hike Willis Creek, and hike through Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Gulches.

USA ROAD TRIPS: Planning your next big adventure in the USA? Check our our USA Road Trip Guide for travel ideas and sample itineraries.


Planning a trip through the United States? Read all of our articles about Utah in our Utah Travel Guide and the USA in our United States Travel Guide.



Valley of the gods Utah


All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 12

  1. Avatar for Eric
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I don’t know for sure. We have no experience driving an RV and if the roads are wet, they can be impassable, even for a 4×4.

    2. Avatar for Dave
  2. Avatar for Mike Hirshfield
    Mike Hirshfield

    This was a great drive, even with some rain in the morning that dried up by afternoon. We did it coming back from Natural Bridges, after going up then down the Moki Dugway. The road was fine for a semi high clearance 2wd SUV, probably OK for a sedan. We loved being able to just stop in the middle of the road and get out to take picture, it was that empty.

  3. Avatar for Bryn Joynes
    Bryn Joynes

    Did you get to drive the Moki Dugway? I rode through this area in February 2020, all around the four corners. Also spent Christmas day at Goulding’s lodge. There is something that keeps bringing me back, all the way from TN..

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Bryn. Thanks for writing in. No, we missed Moki Dugway. In fact, this is the first I have heard of it (thank you so much!!). We have driven right through here 2 times in the past 3 years, but we will be back soon. I totally agree…we live in Maryland and cannot stay away from Utah and Arizona. It is an amazing place! Happy travels! Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Valley of Gods
  5. Avatar for Christian

    I’ve been wanting to come here for a long time. I have a Volkswagen Golf GTI, do you think this could handle the roads there? Would I really need a higher-clearance vehicle? Also how was the weather there late March? Whats the situation with dogs? Would really appreciate your responses

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Yes, you do not need a 4×4 to drive here. However, if it rains, the roads can be impassable even for a 4×4. We were here in May, with daytime temps in the 70’s (Fahrnenheit) and lows in the 30’s. It will be cooler in March but the weather can still be very pleasant. Since it’s a state park, you might be able to bring your dog. Check the official website to confirm this. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for JoeS

    Not an ‘unbeaten path’ anymore. On a recent weekday in April 2018 nearly every pullout had campers, and in the am a train of 12 trucks and Jeep’s came through. I counted 20 in the space of thirty minutes, and this was before 9 am.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Wow!! We visited almost exactly one year ago today, midday, and there were only a handful of cars. Crazy!!

    2. Avatar for Dean

      It’s not off the beaten path anymore because people publicize it on facebook, instagram, and websites like this one. A surefire way to make something popular is to advertise it.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *