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Moki Dugway, a scenic road in Utah.

moki dugway
Moki Dugway

The Moki Dugway is located in the United States in the county of San Juan, in the state of Utah.

This series of switchbacks on the rampart side links the Valley of the Gods to the top of a mesa, the Cedar Mesa, which overlooks it further west. The route is part of the Trail of the Ancients.

Where is Moki Dugway road located?

The Moki Dugway is located in Utah at the end of UT261 a few miles from the Valley of the Gods and 13 miles (21 kilometers) north of Mexican Hat.

More precisely, the Moki Dugway is this road, which becomes a track during the rise of the Mesa (flat mountain) which overhangs the valley of the Gods. It is numbered 261 and turns left just north of Mexican Hat.

You can find some accommodations and places to eat at Mexican Hat, Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods Bed and Breakfast (located at the west entrance to the trail), or Bluff.

You can situate the road on the map just below:


Enlarge the map

Facts about the Moki Dugway road:

Road description:

This small unpaved portion of Route 261 climbs from the Valley of The Gods onto Cedar Mesa. Just over four kilometers (3 miles) of hairpin bends for an elevation change of 335m (1100ft). And of course at every turn, superb views of Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley. The average gradient is about 10%.

Although it is unpaved, passenger vehicles (excluding RVs) will have absolutely no problem on this road. Be careful if you have vertigo, it climbs dry with a sheer drop without barrier.

In high season or on weekends there can be a lot of people on that road. Better choose a weekday or come there earlier in the morning.

Moki is the only part of the 261 unpaved and all cars can go there (watch out for the weather though). However, the state of Utah recommends that vehicles over 8m50 and 4.5 tonnes avoid this route.

Allow two hours or more depending on your availability and your desires.

History:

The Moki Dugway, dug into the hill in 1958 by Texas Zinc, was used to transport uranium between the “Happy Jack” mine in Fry Canyon and the reprocessing plant in Halchita, near Mexican Hat.

“Moki” is derived from a Spanish word used by 18th-century European settlers and explorers to describe the Pueblo Indians of the area. English-speaking pioneers in southern Utah continued to use this expression until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Today, it is mainly tourists who use this route, whether they are coming from the south of the Valley of The Gods or coming from the north of the Natural Bridges National Monument.

Itinerary of the road

If you are about to complete the Valley of the Gods trail, at the end of the trail you take a right and you can start the climb to Moki Dugway.


If you come out of Goosenecks State Park you take a left instead of heading for Mexican Hat and you will come to the start of the switchbacks.


Finally, if you are coming from Natural Bridges National Monument, you will arrive at the top of UT 261 and you will only need to descend the switchbacks of Moki Dugway.

You visualize how to get there on this map of the drive:

Moki Dugway road attraction:

The viewpoint from Muley Point gives spectators a panorama of the Valley of the Gods in Utah, Monument Valley in Arizona, the deeply entrenched canyons of the San Juan River, and Shiprock in New Mexico.

Muley Point
Muley Point

Near the top, you will find an ideal car park for a photo stop and at the very top, another dirt road turns left. This will take you to another superb viewpoint, Muley Point Overlook.

Also, Muley Point and Moki Dugway, as well as neighboring sites in the Four Corners area (Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods, Natural Bridges National Monument, Four Corners, Hovenweep National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, Canyon de Chelly National Monument …) are all part of a historic 586 kilometers (386 miles) touristic route, the “Trail of the Ancients”. If you are sensitive to Native American history and want to spend several days in the region, this itinerary is for you.

A preview of the drive:

If you are planning your road trip to Utah, you should watch this Youtube video to have an idea of this scenic drive:

Is Moki Dugway road open?

The drive is usually always open all year round. Although, there are no facilities along the Moki Dugway. Also, there are no guard-rails on the road.

You should also be aware that the road can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow.

The Moki Dugway is an unpaved, easy switchback track of a few kilometers. In dry weather, do not hesitate to take it because it saves time on the trip between Natural Bridges and Mexican Hat.

This road is a classic one as the Million Dollar Highway in the nearby state of Colorado.

So, if you are traveling in Utah and you are in the vicinity of Monument Valley, between the Valley of the Gods Road and Goosenecks, we recommend that you go to Moki Dugway. A winding road that provides breathtaking views over the valley, and in this case, the surrounding clouds.

Pictures credits: By Andrew Smith from Seattle, WA, USA – Moki Dugway, Utah, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61091320 / CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13292829 /By Murray Foubister – https://www.flickr.com/photos/mfoubister/7334009162/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51852598


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