Utah is one of the most beautiful states in America. It has such a diverse landscape that it attracts visitors far and wide for both the beauty and cultural significance. Recently a section of Utah has come under close scrutiny as current and past presidents appear to be under different influences concerning its designation. The future of the Valley of the Gods has never been as threatened as it is today.
The Bear Ears area of Utah is known for its unique geology and mesmerizing landscapes. Within the Bear Ears area lies the Valley of the Gods a site that is covered in tall red rock formations that appear like sculptures on the Earth formed by nature. For years cultures and writers have been in awe of these formations. The Navajoes hold them in a close place and believe that the location of the Valley of the Gods is as significant to them as Christians believe the Garden of Eden is in their religion. In more modern times writes have waxed lyrically about the beauty of such a place with one writer comparing the formations to Egyptian deities.
Yet despite their beauty and importance to the Navajo people, their future is not secured. This area of Utah is also a key mining area and many businesses would like to use the land for mining purposes. During his term, and in his final month as president, Obama put a stop to this by protecting a large area of Bear Ears and declaring it a national monument. This was important for two reasons. The first reason was that it legally recognized the cultural significance of the Navajo people who have been ignored for too long. The second is that it put a stop to any mining efforts in the area and effectively protected the incredible site for future generations. Or at least that was the aim.
Only a year later, in 2017, Trump came into power and immediately undone Obama’s good work. He shrank the Bear Ears monument classification by 85% and a second site in Utah by 47%. This was part of a larger movement which the government explained as trying to correct the overreach of previous governments. That sounds reasonable. However, it was widely reported at the time that a mining firm interested in uranium had actively lobbied to reduce the land area and had actually indicated which parcels of land they wanted to work on.
Soon after the change took place the new land was leased to mining firms for oil and gas and areas that were previously only open to cattle grazing were now open to mining as well. The Valley of the Gods was in the area that was protected and then opened up. Luckily there was a separate legal document that preceded Obama’s that still protected the Valley of the Dolls. However, the area surrounding it is in trouble and who knows what the future of the Valley of Gods will be.
The Valley of the Gods is a special place to visit and you should try and go there before it either becomes a mining site or becomes a tourist haven. At present, so many parts of Utah have been turned into parks with full tour busses arriving and rules and regulations in place. The Valley of the Gods is currently still a part of the wilderness. You can camp there and if you do you likely won’t meet another person during your entire stay. It is a quiet desolate place that leaves you alone with your thoughts, something we don’t do enough of. If you imagine the most star-filled sky you have ever seen than prepare to see a better one as nothing compares with the Valley of the Gods.