Deciding on a Southern Utah Destination
We were looking for a new place to explore when passing through southern Utah this spring. While camped out at the Bisti Badlands with some RVing pals from Wyoming they suggested checking out the Valley of the Gods BLM area between the towns of Bluff and Mexican Hat along HWY 163. They had camped there a few months earlier and raved about the scenery and tranquil atmosphere. In fact they loved it so much they were headed back again and invited us to meet up in the same camp spot.
Cool, it’s always nice to have some firsthand knowledge about a new boondocking location before hauling our trailer into it. Especially in a location like this where every year is can change due to winter rains. Our friends had taken their 40-foot fifth wheel in there without incident so I was pretty confident we wouldn’t have a problem with our 30 foot Cougar.
Getting into the Valley of the Gods BLM Camping
I had heard about the Valley of the Gods several years earlier when visiting Goosenecks State Park and Monument Valley but had discounted it as a camping spot when I read how bad the road is for RVs. The road through the Valley of the Gods BLM area is a 17-mile dirt road from US Highway 163 to Utah Highway 261. When we visited the road was in pretty good shape with very little washboard and in most places wide enough for two vehicles to pass.
The biggest thing that limits RV travel is the multiple dips into the many dry washes the snake throughout the area. Some are very deep and you could potential drag the bum end of a longer RV causing damage or even getting it stuck out there. It is even worse for trailers.
The 17 mile loop through the Valley of the Gods is a graded gravel and clay surface road (San Juan County Road #242), that has a few sharp turns, and crosses several washes. It is suitable for passenger cars when the road conditions are dry. However, road conditions vary throughout the year with regional weather conditions. Local inquiry should be made during and after periods of inclement weather. – Valley of the Gods PDF Brochure
We ventured in around 4 ½ miles from the US 163 entrance to a nice flat fairly large camp area perched on the rim of a small canyon. The biggest challenges getting to this location were a large wash early on, a few tight, narrow corners and several blind hills. But, we took it slow and made our way in OK without any trailer bum dragging. Once past this point though things get much more hairy with deeper washes and twisty, lumpy roads.
It was a bit humorous to watch the Class “C” rental RVs cruise past our position in a big cloud of dust as they raced along the scenic drive, only to watch them come limping back once they encountered the really bad parts. Some of those rigs have a long rear overhang and I’m sure many of them got dragged. *Tip* – never buy a used rental RV that has been to Utah, hehe.
Our Primo Boondocking Spot
As we approached the free BLM camping area and saw our buddy’s rig all setup in this most picturesque red rock desert scene big smiles were on our faces. This place was right up our alley! I was so glad we took a chance and headed down the red dirt road to this sandstone cathedral. We could even see glimpses of Monument Valley in the far off distance, but really to us this place is better. It’s a mini version of the famous Monument Valley without the restrictions, camping fees and spring break crowds.
Time Spent Enjoying the Valley of the Gods, Utah
We spent 4 wonderful days camped here in the Valley of the Gods and enjoyed the heck out of every minute. Camping with our Wyoming friends was a blast, we enjoyed several happy hours, long chats about RVing and playing with the dogs who loved the off leash freedom. The weather was great for early April with warm sunny days and starry nights.
There were a few windy periods, as can be expected in such an open spot. We still have the red Utah dust on and in our rig to prove it. Looking back it’s worth every grain of it though.
We also did quite a bit of hiking and of course photography in the Valley of the Gods. It was fun to hike down to explore the green cottonwood tree-lined washes and canyons or climb up into the sandstone rocks, hills and ledges to get a better view of the amazing terrain. Spotting animals or their telltale tracks was another fun pastime. And being so close to a natural spring we found in a nearby canyon the wildlife was plentiful.
The area is home to scads of bunnies, chipmunks, desert mice, little lizards, hawks, snakes, scorpions, coyotes, bobcats, etc. It was easy to see the comings and goings by tracks made in the sandy orange dunes close to the watering hole.
Most of the time we just sat and relaxed in our camp chairs and drank in the incredible landscape and peacefulness of the place. The contrast of the blue sky, red rock, and green plant life was remarkable. I’ve only seen it this intense once before when visiting Sedona, Arizona.
As the sun traveled across the sky the red sandstone buttes, spires and cliff sides would be in a constant state of color change. As the day wore on they would begin to light up and longer shadows would enhance the textures. Eventually, they would all be silhouettes in the setting sun. What a place, I can’t wait to go back and spend more time, we have lots more left to explore.
Video Highlights from the Valley of the Gods
VOTG Photo Gallery
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