Exploring Mexican Hat, UT Area
After an enjoyable few days in Canyon de Chelly, I left on Sunday, May 19. Having spent the last six months in Arizona, I am bound for southeastern Utah around the town of Mexican Hat.
This is my first visit to the area. After making the 120 mile drive, I found a camp on BLM land just off Hwy 163. The rock and sandstone formations in the area are phenomenal.
The landscape in this area was stunning. The desert and much of the sandstone formations are orange. Mixed in are pastel bands of yellow, white, and red, then the blue of the sky. And with all the rain this spring, the desert plants are very green and the wildflowers are blooming. Pictures just don’t do it justice.
There were Horned Larks around my camp and I was able to get this photo that shows how they came by the name.
Moki Dugway and Muley Point
The section of Hwy 261 that climbs up Cedar Mesa is called the Moki Dugway. It is a dirt/gravel road that switchbacks steeply up the side of the mesa. Right at the top of the mesa a dirt road to the left leads out to Muley Point at the southern tip of Cedar Mesa.
There are a few overlooks along the road to Muley Point.
The dirt road that is visible below the mesa is Johns Canyon Road.
Looking north along the western side of Cedar Mesa, Johns Canyon Road continues along the mesa. It is a tiny speck, but there is a grader on the road in about the center of the photo. I was thinking of driving out the road. After seeing the grader out there, I figured if he could make it then I can too!
A visit to Monument Valley was high on my to do list while here. The valley straddles the Utah/Arizona state line and is a part of the Navajo Nation. Visitors may drive the 17-mile road around the valley, or there are guided tours available. Access to some areas is only open to the guided tours.
As one approaches the valley from the north along Hwy 163, there are numerous scenic pull offs. One of the first is at the place where the scene in Forrest Gump was filmed when he ended his cross country run, as the sign says…
The buttes and mesas of the valley are the iconic western landscape. John Ford was the first to shoot a movie here in 1939 – Stagecoach starring John Wayne. He filmed several more westerns here.
Perhaps the best known formations are the West and East Mitten Buttes.
More to come on the rest of my stay here in Utah.