Just after dropping down from Cedar Mesa via the Moki Dugway, I found the unmarked road for Valley of the Gods. It was almost sunset, and a tiny sign informed me that I was headed onto a 17 mile dirt road. Even though I knew I was probably too late to properly enjoy (and photograph) the Valley of the Gods, I went ahead and checked it out.
Valley of the Gods is often called a “little” Monument Valley — the famous collection of distinctive buttes that you’ve seen a thousand times before in western pictures. Monument Valley is about 30 miles from here via US 163. Since I had seen it during my 2004 trip to the area, I was content to settle for the “little” version this time.
Valley of the Gods road is unremarkable for the first few miles. At first, the road takes you away from Cedar Mesa, and only a few small features can be seen.
The road does eventually turn back to the north, and makes its way closer to some more interesting hills.
About halfway through the 17-mile drive, the road gets very interesting, as it passes formations with names like Battleship Rock and Castle Butte. I’m not sure which one is which, or if the ones I photographed even have names.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the road travels north through Valley of the Gods, then turns south — so I probably ended up taking pictures of many of the same formations, only from different angles.
The road makes its big turn as it circles around Castle Butte. Shortly after, as the road parallels the West Fork of Lime Creek, you’ll see this formation, which I think looks like a torch.
Some sunlight found its way through the thick, grey clouds that were gathering overhead, and managed to light up one particular rock fin…
… as well as Setting Hen Butte (left) and Rooster Butte (right).
I found one more nice picture of the sunset, before hitting US 163.
US 163 ends at the junction with US 191, which heads north into Blanding. Along the way, there isn’t much in the way of businesses, except for the Twin Rocks Trading Post in Bluff, Utah. As I took the picture, I realized this was the first open business I had passed all day, since leaving my motel at Torrey, nearly 300 miles ago. That is why I called this the “Loneliest” trip.