about Valley of the Gods, Utah by reading Sunbelt Solitude - Valley
of the Gods, Utah by Henry Scammell. It features all you'll need to
know to plan your trip including objective info on the place to stay
and things to do. At the end of the article, we've provided a
summary of the contact information for your easy reference. Enjoy!
Solitude - Valley of the Gods, Utah
by Henry Scammell
"Valley of the Gods"
Some of the best travel dreams
begin at airplane windows. That’s especially likely when the sky rider
is gazing down longingly at the empty, desolate, glorious endlessness of
the American Southwest. If you happen to be flying over Utah’s quadrant
of the remote Four Corners, it’s possible you could be looking at one of
the most isolated habitations in the lower 48 states.
The Valley of the Gods Bed and Breakfast is
a rustic, stone ranch house located near the base of the thousand-foot
cliff of Cedar Mesa, in the red desert between Bluff and Mexican Hat. It
is the only home in its 360,000-acre Valley of the Gods wilderness (that’s
over 500 square miles), which includes one of the world’s most
breathtaking vistas. At almost any time you view it, the vast landscape of
cactus and sage brush, desert mesas and distant mountains, fiery sunsets
and virginal nighttime skies is yours, all yours, without the sound of
distant motors, without the smoke or haze of civilization, indeed without
another human being in sight.
The solar- and wind-powered B&B, built
by a mining company at the height of the uranium boom, with 3-foot walls,
offers only four guest rooms, all with private baths. The decor is
scrupulously southwest. They are connected to the outer world by wireless
telephone, but thankfully not by TV.
Hosts Gary and Claire Dorgan serve
delicious daily breakfasts, typically consisting of homemade cranberry
almond scones, fresh fruit and juices, yogurt, granola, and fresh-baked
pina colada bread warm from the oven. Dinners, equally delicious, are more
occasional and must be scheduled in advance. (Public dining in Mexican
Hat, only 12 miles away, isn’t terrific, but there’s also a general
store. The 30-minute drive to Bluff is more rewarding.)
Dining at the B&B is al fresco at one
end of a 75-foot verandah. Although the setting and the company are almost
always equally convivial, conversation is punctuated by long silences as
the fortunate few allow themselves to be lost in wonder. The 75-mile views
across the desert, dotted with spires, pyramids and buttes, stretch so far
into the distance that they fade to purple. The familiar landmarks of
Monument Valley adorn the southern horizon.
As the day wanes, a gentle breeze lowers
the mid-day summer highs, which can be over 100°, to the comfortable
seventies and even into the sixties. Colors fade to a night sky carpeted
with crystal stars and often punctuated with distant views of sheet and
bolt lightning, as small storm cells travel across the panorama. At dawn,
the rising sun awakens the sleeping gods, the spires and dramatic rock
formations from which the valley takes its name. Cinnamon hummingbirds
hover in the orange-colored blossoms of the trumpet vines which lace the
verandah’s pillars. Rabbits move fearlessly about their early morning
business, and lizards pause for push-ups between sips from the water
dishes set out for that purpose by the hospitable Dorgans.
The land around is scrub desert with
gullies and canyons that are watered by those occasional thunderstorms
(and sometimes flash floods.) Strips of bright green trees stand sentinel
along the beds of temporary rivers. But most of the view is the raw beauty
of Red Rock country.
For the adventurous, a dizzy, zig-zag ride
up the switchback to the top of Cedar Mesa is the start of a one-hour
drive to the entrance of Grand Gulch Primitive Area, a 51 mile canyon so
little visited that you’re not likely to see another footprint besides
your own. Be sure to take lots of water, a gallon per hiker isn’t
overdoing it. Register at the Ranger station, then begin your trek through
green, marshy meadows of wild sage and clover, sometimes in the company of
docile honeybees, descending through groves of smooth-barked,
bright-leafed trees as the walls of the canyon rise around you. At times,
the path is barely visible, marked only by the occasional cairn. After
about two hours, the cliffs tower 500 feet above you and, although the
temperature rises as the path descends, much of your journey is in their
Suddenly, just beyond a branch in the
canyon, the ruins of an Anasazi dwelling appear in the cliffs above you.
At the base are more ruins, and below them, in a scoria of rock fragment,
pot shards, bones and tiny corn cobs, is the debris of centuries of human
habitation (from the time of Christ to just before Columbus.) You can
easily climb to the lower ruins, but by design, the upper chambers remain
safely beyond the casual visitor’s reach.
Despite the solitude of their settings,
both the Valley of the Gods and Cedar Mesa Cultural and Recreational
Management Area are within easy driving distances of the region’s other
spectacular natural attractions. Besides Monument Valley, these include
Lake Powell, Mesa Verde, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, as well as
the Navajo, Hovenweep, and Natural Bridges National Monuments. Major
airports in Phoenix,
Albuquerque, and Salt Lake City are all
about 340 miles away; Moab, Durango and Flagstaff are about half as far.
The B&B is open year-round, but traffic drops in the winter months.
Visit the Dorgan’s web site at
write them at
PO Box 310307, Mexican Hat, Utah 84531, or leave a
970-749-1164 and they’ll return your call. Rates for
the year 2000 are only $95 per room.
Places to Stay, Eat and Other Contact Information
of the Gods Bed and Breakfast -
or write to PO Box 310307, Mexican Hat, Utah 84531, or leave a
message at 970-749-1164.
Notice: This information is current as of
July 2000. It is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or
visit the websites above to determine any changes to the