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Learn 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!

Sunbelt Solitude - Valley of the Gods, Utah

by Henry Scammell

"Valley of the Gods"

Some of the best travel dreams begin at airplane windows. Thatís 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 Utahís quadrant of the remote Four Corners, itís 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 (thatís over 500 square miles), which includes one of the worldís 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, isnít terrific, but thereís 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 100į, 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 verandahís 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 youíre not likely to see another footprint besides your own. Be sure to take lots of water, a gallon per hiker isnít 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 cooling shadow.

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 visitorís 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 regionís 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 Dorganís website at, write them at PO Box 310307, Mexican Hat, Utah 84531, or leave a message at 970-749-1164 and theyíll return your call. Rates for the year 2000 are only $95 per room.

Places to Stay, Eat and Other Contact Information

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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 information.