Planning a trip to Monument Valley and wondering if you'll actually be seeing Valley of the Gods at the same time?
Utah and Arizona are home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the American Southwest. From canyons and valleys to hoodoos and buttes, you'll encounter so many different kinds of landscapes!
Among all the famous natural attractions, there are two names that prospective travelers typically stumble upon: "Monument Valley" and "Valley of the Gods." Are they the same place?
Short Answer: No, Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley are not the same place.
Long Answer: The Valley of the Gods is a sandstone valley in southeast Utah near Mexican Hat, Utah. It is part of the Bears Ears National Monument. On the other hand, Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau, on the border between Arizona and Utah, known for its spectacularly tall sandstone buttes.
Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley are two separate places that are very different, yet so similar! Read on to learn more about these two locations and their differences.
What Is Valley of the Gods Like?
The Valley of the Gods is a remote and rugged area filled with red rock formations and memorable landscapes. It offers plenty of opportunities for exploration, such as hiking trails, camping grounds, and ancient ruins. The valley is home to many species of wildlife, including mountain lions, bobcats, and bighorn sheep.
Here are a few things you can experience at Valley of the Gods:
Spectacular Views of the Surrounding Area
When at the heart of Valley of the Gods, you'll see buttes, mesas, and other rock formations around you. The geography here is incredibly varied!
Wilderness Ripe for Exploration
Valley of the Gods doesn't have any designated campgrounds or trails, so you can get out and explore the backcountry to your heart's content.
A Quiet and Serene Environment
This valley is far away from big cities and has a peaceful atmosphere. It's also much more lowkey than Monument Valley, so you don't have to worry about crowds.
What Is Monument Valley Like?
Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau, located both in southeastern Utah and northern Arizona. There's lots to see in Monument Valley, including tall sandstone buttes and mesas that have been featured in plenty of films.
The valley is home to two national parks, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (in Utah) and Tse Bii' Ndzisgaii National Monument (in Arizona). On a trip to Monument Valley, you'll be met with:
Magnificent Red Rock Formations
Like Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley has a varied landscape, including large rock formations known as buttes. The ones at Monument Valley are more spectacular and are some of the most recognizable rock formations in the world!
A Variety of Trails and Observation Areas
Monument Valley offers trails that range from easy to challenging. Most trails require a Navajo guide, but there is one (the Wildcat Trail) that can be hiked independently. Visitors can admire the valley's unique landscape from various overlooks and lookout points, as well.
Opportunities to Explore Native American Culture
Monument Valley is home to the Navajo Nation, and visitors can learn about their culture through guided tours. There is also a museum within the Valley, Goulding's Trading Post Museum. There are a variety of exhibits, including ones about Native American culture.
How Valley of the Gods is Different from Monument Valley
Valley of the Gods is sometimes called "mini Monument Valley" but just how similar are the two? When you get into it, they're really quite different! Here are nine key differences between Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley.
When compared to Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods features fewer buttes and mesas, making it less dramatic in terms of landscape. It also has fewer roads and trails. Depending on what kind of hiker you are, that could be a good or bad thing!
Valley of the Gods is located in southeast Utah. Monument Valley extends across Arizona and Utah, about an hour's drive south of Valley of the Gods.
Monument Valley covers an area of almost 1,100 square miles (2850 square kilometers). Valley of the Gods really is a "mini" Monument Valley, as it's just a fraction of that size.
The Valley of the Gods offers plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. Monument Valley isn't completely deserted but is somewhat void of animal life.
Monument Valley has been home to Native American tribes for centuries and is considered sacred by many. The Valley of the Gods has no such cultural significance.
Monument Valley is a very popular tourist destination, while the Valley of the Gods is a hidden gem. If you're visiting the area in peak season and want to avoid crowds, Valley of the Gods might be the choice for you.
Monument Valley is on Navajo Land, so a permit is required in order to hike around the backcountry there. You can still tour much of Monument Valley on your own, though.
Valley of the Gods has no such restrictions. You can make your own opportunities, which also means that you have to be very self-sufficient.
Monument Valley has several campsites. Valley of the Gods doesn't have any designated campgrounds but there are some informal gathering spots.
The Valley of the Gods offers some of the darkest night skies in North America. You can get awesome views of the stars here!
Monument Valley is not as ideal due to being closer to cities and light pollution. It is still, however, quite good for stargazing, especially if you go out into restricted areas with a Navajo guide.
The Bottom Line
Though they're close to each other and are quite similar on the surface, Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods are actually quite different. Ultimately, they offer two distinct experiences for travelers with different interests.
The differences between the Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley make them each unique places to visit and explore. You could visit both but, if you only have time for one, it's up to you to decide which one is worth it, depending on your individual needs and interests.
Monument Valley is an iconic tourist destination for a reason, but the rugged beauty of the Valley of the Gods still awaits discovery. No matter which one you choose, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences!