Moki Dugway

Moki Dugway & Muley Point on Scenic Byway 261

Mexican Hat, a census designated place, population 88 (2000), gets its name from Mexican Hat Rock at the edge of town.  A photo of the rock is in the gallery

Moki Dugway is in scenic southeastern Utah on Utah state highway 261 on the Trail of the Ancients, 24 miles northeast of the Utah and Arizona border on US163, and 12.5 miles north of Mexican Hat, Utah.  Moki Dugway drops 1,200' (365+ m) off the edge of Cedar Mesa Escarpment on graded 11% switchbacks into the Valley of the Gods.  Muley Point, the point at the far end of the escarpment in the photo above, offers outstanding views across the incised meanders of the San Juan into Monument Valley on the horizon.  If not recently graded, washboard sections of Moki Dugway will make it easier to descend the switchbacks from the north rather than climbing them from the south.  It was so rough on my last trip that I would have turned around, if I could have, and come down the switchbacks from the north a day or two later in the trip.

The term moki (also mokee) is derived from the Spanish word, moqui, a general term used by explorers in this region to describe the Pueblo Indians they encountered as well as the vanished Ancestral Puebloan culture.  The Dictionary of the American West defines a dugway as, A road or trail going through a high land form which is dug out of or excavated into the land form to provide a path for transport.

The United States Geological Survey, Federal source for Science about the Earth, its natural and living resources, natural hazards, and the environment

From the USGSMoki Dugway was built in 1958 for trucks hauling uranium ore.  The Moki Dugway is a gravel road, part of Highway 26 (sic), about 24 miles south of Natural Bridges National Monument.  The ancient inhabitants of this region had no such "highway" for travelling up and down the mesa.  Carved hand- and foot-holds and worn step-like paths of ancient American Indians can be found leading up cliffs and steep escarptments (sic) to food storage areas, dwellings, springs, or up steep escarpments . . like the Cedar Mesa escarpment in the right third of the photo above.

Outstanding scenic panoramic views are visible from Muley Point on the edge of the Cedar Mesa escarpment, at/near the point visible in the background, reached by a dirt road off U261 just north of Moki Dugway.  This back road to Mulely Point is faintly visible above the top of Moki Dugway on the U261/US163 map.  Many people stop at the first overlook on the edge of the escarpment, which many call Muley Point, the road west to Muley Point, which is on the edge of the point, is significantly smaller and rougher.  From either point, Monumnent Valley is on the horizon behind Raplee Ridge, Goosenecks State Park is not far away, and the goosenecks of the San Juan River west of the park are immediately below the point.

Nearby are Natural Bridges National Monument, Ancestral Pueobloan ruins throughout Cedar Mesa, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Comb Ridge moncline, the Cockscomb monocline, Waterpocket Fold monocline (Capitol Reef National Park), scenic vistas, scenic byways, canyons and extremely narrow slot canyons, geologic formations, and primitive and wilderness areas.

The Photo Gallery includes an auto-show of Moki Dugway photos that include the approach to the switchbacks, the Valley of the Gods from a switchback pullout, views of the switchbacks and from Muley Point, and Mexican Hat Rock in front of Raplee Ridge (lower right corner of the US163/U261 map).