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Muley Point Lookout at Cedar Mesa, Utah

Braving the Switchbacks of the Moki Dugway


Moki Dugway to Muley Point

Moki Dugway to Muley Point

Copyright: Elizabeth R. Rose
Updated June 03, 2009
Not far from Mexican Hat, awaits an experience you will never forget. Muley Point Lookout on Cedar Mesa is worth the steep drive, breaking out into a cold sweat as you navigate the switchbacks, and watching for lightning storms as you brave the outcroppings of the vista point.

Sounds scary, right? So why go? Well, Muley Point is the only way to see impressive vistas including Monument Valley in the distance. And, besides, it's an adventure!

Our photos will show you what it's like and, hopefully, will entice you to visit Muley Point Lookout as well.

Getting to Cedar Mesa and Muley Point - The Moki Dugway

From Monument Valley or Mexican Hat look for UT 261 whicb branches off northwards off US 163, starting with a near-straight ten mile road. Now here's the fun part. The road temporarily turns to gravel with steep inclines and 180 degree switchbacks as it ascends 1,200 feet to the top of a Cedar Mesa.

This part is named the Moki (Moqui) Dugway. The exciting road was constructed in 1958 by Texas Zinc, a mining company, to transport uranium ore from the "Happy Jack" mine in Fry Canyon, UT. to the processing mill in Mexican Hat. You will see signs recommending that only vehicles less than 28 feet in length and 10,000 pounds in weight attempt to negotiate this steep (10% grade)road with switchbacks. However, when I was there I saw RV's and pick-up trucks doing rather well. Just go slow, is what I would recommend, and stop at curves to honk your horn just in case someone is coming down the road.

Getting to the Lookout

At the top of the long and winding road look for a 5 mile gravel road leading southwest through BLM land to Muley Point overlook. This is your destination. You'll see amazing sweeping views south over the canyons of the San Juan River. the expanse of Navajo Nation land and on to Monument Valley in the distance. I've heard that you can camp here and certainly it's worth a stop for a picnic and photographs. It's also a great place to recover from the ride up! Enjoy this quiet place where you can watch the birds soar and hear the wind.

Leaving the Lookout and Driving on Along Highway 261 to I-95 to Natural Bridges, Utah

There are two options once you are high on the mesa. One is to return to the valley floor the way you came via winding Moki Dugway (we did this) or drive on along Highway 261 to the intersection with I-95 and the Natural Briges National Monument area. Directions to Natural Bridges.

Things to Know before Attempting the Moki Dugway
  • Know your vehicle and it's capacity for narrow winding climbs and descents
  • Know your passengers and their tolerance of heights
  • Don't attempt this climb in icy or wet weather
  • Don't start a climb when storm clouds are moving in
  • Take the drive slowly and enjoy the scenery (well maybe the passengers can enjoy the scenery!)
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