Located on UT-261, the Moki Dugway is a staggering flight of switchbacks that stretch down a steep gravel path, winding its way 1,200 feet from Cedar Mesa to the Valley of the Gods. The Dugway descent is an 11% grade angle from the mesa top to the valley floor. This rugged route provides breathtaking views of some of Utah’s most cherished monuments and ancient ruins.
From the overlook near the top of this adventurous path visitors can spot the Four Corners region, with the Sleeping Ute Mountain peaking up from the horizon on the east. Southeast viewers can catch a glimpse of Shiprock in New Mexico, and the vista from further south reveals the Carrizo Mountains which sprawl along the Arizona and New Mexico border. The majesty of Monument Valley stands southwest of the scenic overlook, while views further east spot Pyramid Peak, the Seven Sailors, Rooster Butte, and Setting Hen Butte.
Alhambra Rock can be spotted rising abruptly in the distant sky. This igneous slab of hard volcanic material was forced up by nature through settling sandstone.
The Moki Dugway was constructed in the 1950s provide a way to haul ore from the Happy Jack Mine on Cedar Mesa to the mill in Halchita, near Mexican Hat.
Gooseneck State Park
It’s a magical place where nature meets the passage of time. At Gooseneck State Park visitors experience the geological results of 300 million years, where the San Juan River winds its way through the desert 1,000 feet below. Providing astonishing views over a distance of one and a half miles of dessert rock that cradles six miles of river rapids.
Visitors can enjoy camping under the stars, picnic areas, and an observation shelter. The area is a haven for night photography, as the stars that blink their way through the night sky are luminous enough to read by. It’s hot spot for stargazing.
The experience at Gooseneck State Park is quite primitive. The area provides no drinking water, no maintained trails, and no river access. It’s truly an experience back in time.
Another scenic route along UT 261 is Muley Point. This alternative passage through the wondrous desert landscape branches off northwards from US 163, and continues down a ten mile stretch along the edge of the Valley of the Gods on the valley floor. The passage ascends 1,200 feet to the top of a high, Cedar Mesa plateau, and from the top of the cliffs viewers can take-in the immense vistas of the Navajo Reservation.
From the top of the cliffs there stretches an immense vista southwards over the lonely plains of the Navajo Reservation, with Monument Valley visible in the rugged distance, and scatter spotting of buttes, cliffs and volcanic spires.
The Muley Point Overlook provides viewers with a panorama of the entrenched canyons of the San Juan River, and the vast, sweeping valleys of the barren desert wilderness. A relatively unknown getaway, the end of ancient path takes drivers to the enterance of Glen Canyon, and further west visitors pass a deep tributary of the San Juan River.