TWO UP RIDERS

Classic American West – US Highway 163

Spectacular Monument Valley on US Highway 193

Highway 163

The area around US Highway 163 is an amazing assortment of dramatic roadways and incredible landscapes. Such was our experience through this classic area. We combined the Mokai Dugway (a 1,200 foot, near vertical descent down the face of a vibrantly colored sandstone cliff), Goosenecks State Park, and Monument Valley into one epic journey through the desert.

Monument Valley

As if our day didn’t have enough packed into it, we traveled down that long lonesome highway (Highway 163) through Monument Valley, perhaps the place that inspired the creators of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. You’ve seen it many times in photographs, the iconic long, straight, desert road that seems to go on forever, with giant buttes off in the distance. Why does “Hotel California” keep coming to mind? It is such a beautiful place, so unique is its place in the world. Desolate but yet so inviting. Perhaps it’s because one can just get lost on purpose out there but still feel as if they are with other beings, even if they are giant towers made of stone.

Mokai Dugway

OK there are lots of spellings of the road name, but this is the one we’re sticking with. The Mokai Dugway is part of UT 261 that connects to Highway 163 just north of Mexican Hat, UT (isn’t that a cool name for a town?). There are 6 hair pin turns on this gravel road that took us from 6,400 feet to 5,200 feet in just 3 miles. The road is actually pretty safe if you take it slow, but there is no guardrail and incredibly steep drop offs. There are plenty of warning signs as you approach the road, which is good since it turns from nicely paved asphalt to gravel in an instant. At the top of the Dugway, the views seemingly go on forever. Distant tiny lines in the desert are roads that crisscross the landscape. The geology in view is stunning. Some of the landforms have such striking features, like huge sandstone beds plunging into the ground, while just a few miles away the classic flat lying mesas suggest something radical happened there in the geologic past. As we drove down the pass, the view changed constantly. It was hard to keep our eyes on the road, though our lives depended on it. Truly an unknown bucket list road to try!

Goosenecks State Park

Another in a long line of awesome Utah State Parks, Goosenecks is sublime. Three hairpin bends in the San Juan River create two awesome goosenecks that rival Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point. The river has cut slowly over millions of years through nearly perfectly level sedimentary layers. The symmetry around each bend almost defies natural laws. One just has to sit at the edge of the mesa overlooking this grand view to be reminded of Mother Nature’s awesome beauty and power. The persistence of the downcutting of the river is inspiring to the human spirit and stirs up feelings of invincibility. To think of the vast amount of time it took to produce the layers of sandstone, siltstone, and limestone, lift them up to over 5,000 feet, and then to cut down over 1,000 feet through the hardened rock, it is almost incomprehensible. What we saw before us was 300,000,000 years in the making!

Monument Valley

As if our day didn’t have enough packed into it, we traveled down that long lonesome highway (Highway 163) through Monument Valley, perhaps the place that inspired the creators of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. You’ve seen it many times in photographs, the iconic long, straight, desert road that seems to go on forever, with giant buttes off in the distance. Why does “Hotel California” keep coming to mind? It is such a beautiful place, so unique is its place in the world. Desolate but yet so inviting. Perhaps it’s because one can just get lost on purpose out there but still feel as if they are with other beings, even if they are giant towers made of stone.

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