On our way back from Northern Utah, I wanted to take Mrs Badlandsexpeditions on the “scenic route “back through Utah. We had always driven through Moab, so it seemed like time for a change. There is so many amazing sights, and I wanted to share with Lisa all I have seen.
The plan this time was to drive to Mexican Hat via Muley Point and the Moki Dugway. That was cancelled by the heavy rain we encountered traveling through Salt Lake City. The rain was to continue all throughout southern Utah so we decided to go our usual route through Moab as there was nothing to see in the pouring rain. Some of our route was to be on dirt roads and the rain turns the red Utah dirt into a slippery sloppy mess even with four-wheel drive. The rain stopped as we got to Moab and so we settled into our comfortable hotel and planned the next day, hoping to get back on the “scenic route”. I broke out the map and we looked at our options to get back where we wanted to be, preferably on dirt roads.
As we headed out of town in the morning, we made a quick stop at the Visitors Center to pick up brochures for a friend. While there we decided to ask about the route we had planned. The staff member suggested we might modify our route to include Needles Overlook which would be new for me too. So we added those directions and continued on our way.
As we drove South on Hwy 191, we looked for the turnoff for County Rd 133 and happily turned off onto the red Utah dirt. The two track led us into the desolate desert with scrub bushes. As we drove along and splashed through a small stream and passed a corral. Like much of the Southwest, this most likely is open range with cattle roaming and grazing almost wild.
As we continued on, I saw a reflection of the sun on something and suddenly, we could see a large grouping of dwellings with solar panels. Some of these houses were built into the side of a large sandstone rock formation. There were not any No Trespassing signs but we had the sense that this was private property, so we respected the inhabitants’ privacy. We moved down the road a little to take a picture and saw a sign that said Rockland Ranch , Modern Caveman. When we got back into cell service we found the below link about this remote community.
ext up was Needles Overlook (38.2827643°N, -109.6851185°W ) . The views of the Needles District of Canyon Lands are beyond beautiful. Mother nature surely worked overtime on this amazing scenery.
Next on our scenic route was Muley Point. (37.2374° N, 109.9807° W) While most of the drive was on paved UT 191, 95 and 261 but the drive was beautiful. The remains of snow were still clinging to the north facing hillsides and under the bushes. We soon made the turn off to Muley Point and the pavement turned to red dirt. The road had dried out a little, but I could feel the Porsche slide a little and hear the A/T tires spitting mud against the fenders. The road ended with a panorama of the valley below.
South – On a clear day, you can see the towers of Monument Valley off in the distance.
South/West – The large mountain to the southwest is Navajo Mountain, above Lake Powell. Navajo Mountain is a prominent landmark that is visible from many areas of southeastern Utah.
North/West – The mountains in the distance are the Little Rockies and Henry Mountains near Hanksville.
North – The Bears Ears can often be made out in the distance.
Looking down below Muley Point is the obvious San Juan River, in the deep canyon coming out of the Goosenecks.
We drove back to UT 261 and were on the Moki Dugway. This road is dirt and narrow, and not for the faint of heart or someone scared of heights. We were lucky and had both Muley point and the Moki all to ourselves.
The Moki Dugway (also spelled Mokee or Moqui) is located on UT-261, just northwest of Valley of the Gods.
The term moki is derived from the Spanish word, moqui, a general term used by explorers in this region to describe Pueblo Indians they encountered as well as the vanished Ancestral Puebloan culture. Dugway is a term used to describe a roadway carved from a hillside.
The Moki Dugway is a staggering, graded dirt switchback road carved into the face of the cliff edge of Cedar Mesa. It consists of 3 miles of steep, unpaved, but well-graded switchbacks (11% grade), which wind 1,200 feet from Cedar Mesa to the valley floor near Valley of the Gods. This route provides breathtaking views of some of Utah’s most beautiful sites. Scenic views of Valley of the Gods and distant Monument Valley open at every turn of the dugway.
The Moki Dugway was constructed in the 1950’s to provide a way to haul ore from the Happy Jack Mine on Cedar Mesa to the mill in Halchita, near Mexican Hat.
The State of Utah recommends that only vehicles less than 28 feet and 10,000 pounds attempt to negotiate the dugway. The remainder of US-261 is paved.
I had been to both Muley point and the Moki Dugway before. Now that we are married, I wanted Lisa to see all that I’ve seen in my travels around Utah.
We had decided that we were going to RON (remain overnight) in Bluff so a consult with the map and we took a left turn into the Valley of the Gods. There is a 17-mile road that connects UT 261 and UT 163 about 17 miles from Bluff. We passed a couple of Jeeps and pickups and the looks we got, being a in Porsche, are always priceless.
We arrived at Bluff just as it got dark. It was a great day and we shared so much of God’s beauty together. As always there is more enjoyment in sharing experiences with an appreciative partner… so much nicer than traveling alone.