Moki Dugway to Muley Point

2016_UT-207-Pano

Looking down on the lower half of the Moki Dugway and the San Juan River valley. (Click on image for larger version).

It was back up the Moki Dugway, that love-it-or-fear-it stretch of Utah Highway 261 that goes from the San Juan River valley floor near Mexican Hat up onto Cedar Mesa. Up 1,100 feet in elevation in just three miles of unpaved road.

Almost to the top of the Moki Dugway...

Almost to the top of the Moki Dugway…

But once you’re familiar with it, most people come to love it. How spectacular!

Utah Hwy. 261, just below the Moki Dugway and Cedar Mesa.

Utah Hwy. 261, just below the Moki Dugway and Cedar Mesa.

From the bottom, it’s challenging to look at that all-but-sheer cliff face and wonder: how does a road go up THERE? Where? Is there such a thing as an elevator for cars?

The red cliffs of the southern escarpment of Cedar Mesa, from the Moki Dugway looking down onto Valley Of The Gods.

The red cliffs of the southern escarpment of Cedar Mesa, from the Moki Dugway looking down onto Valley Of The Gods.

There is plenty of warning that the otherwise very gentle and beautifully paved Highway 261 is going to be interrupted by something requiring caution. A series of signs at either end of the Dugway attempts to discourage drivers of large vehicles. And for passenger cars, what about “steep mountain curves, 5 MPH (etc.) do you not get?

Moki Dugway warning sign.

Moki Dugway warning sign, one of several on either end of the approach to the Dugway.

Once on top of Cedar Mesa, I took the dirt road out to Muley Point, one of my favorite spots. The country road crew had even plowed it open.

The uppermost switchback curve on the Moki Dugway.

The uppermost switchback curve on the Moki Dugway. Yep, you started way down there….

Looking down onto the Goosenecks of the San Juan River from high above was especially attractive now that they had snow on them. I like to get some shots of the rim of Cedar Mesa when I can, to give the scene some sense of scale.

Afternoon sunlight on the southern edge of Cedar Mesa, above the Goosenecks.

Afternoon sunlight on the southern edge of Cedar Mesa, above the Goosenecks.

Snow on all the layers and meanders of the Goosenecks is almost dizzying to contemplate.

Goosenecks of the San Juan River, from Muley Point.

Goosenecks of the San Juan River, from Muley Point.

Photo location: San Juan County near Mexican Hat, Utah.

Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

 

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