Thursday, June 18, 2009

Utah's Moki Dugway

I've driven down the Moki Dugway twice. Both times at the end of a Lake Powell Houseboating Roadtrip with Mexican Hat's San Juan Inn as that day's pitstop.

The Moki Dugway is, by far, the scariest piece of road I've ever driven. Glacier National Park's Going to the Sun Road is easy to drive, compared to the Moki Dugway. So is Colorado's Million Dollar Highway.

You start getting Moki Dugway warning signs as soon as you turn off UT-95 on to UT-261. The first warning sign says "10% Grades, Switchbacks, Narrow Gravel Road, 23 miles ahead."

A little further down the road is another warning sign. That one says "NOT Recommended for Trucks over 10,000 lbs., RVs, Buses, Vehicles Towing."

When you are almost to the Moki Dugway there is a sign letting you know that the pavement ends in 800 ft.

My first time down the Moki Dugway we were in two vans. The driver in the 2nd van was very scared of mountain type roads. He had a total panic attack when we stopped at the Muley Point Lookout at the top of Cedar Mesa and he could see the narrow switchbacks leading to the valley floor.

The person having the panic attack wanted to backtrack and take a long detour to get to Mexican Hat. Eventually it was agreed that a driver from my vehicle would drive the other van down the Moki Dugway. The person having the panic attack then quickly drank a lot of liquid courage and put a pillow case over his head so he couldn't see the road.

I found it all very amusing.

On the way down the Moki Dugway you do see a car or two that have gone off the cliff. That is a bit unsettling. Meeting a vehicle heading up the Dugway is a bit dicey.

As you head down the escarpment you can see Monument Valley to the south, with Valley of the Gods slightly to the north. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River is between the Moki Dugway and Mexican Hat.

Indians had long had trails up to the top of Cedar Mesa. Then in 1958, Texas Zinc, a mining company, built the Moki Dugway, in its current form, so they could carry uranium ore from the Happy Jack Mine in Fry Canyon, Utah to a processing mill in Mexican Hat.

The Moki Dugway descends 1,100 feet in 3 miles. It is the slowest 3 miles you will ever drive.

As you can see on the sign at the top, there are various spellings of Moki, actually there are 3 variations, Moki, Mokee and Moqui.

Below is a good YouTube video of a truck driving down the Moki Dugway....


Anonymous said...

made the trip a few years ago (25) in a 27'class c RV.

Anonymous said...

I made the trip down the Moki last year on my ST1100 Honda M/C. Great view's neat road, I'm from Portland Oregon I'm looking forward to doing the route again.

Anonymous said...

Made this trip a couple days ago with some friends. I totally freaked out. I may have had a panic attack actually, which is not common for me on roadways. But THIS ROAD is unlike anything I've ever seen. Where are the guardrails? Where is the warning sign that says "ENTER IF YOU DARE: 1000 FOOT NON-GUARD-RAILED DROP OFF AHEAD" Seriously, kudos to those of you who drive this with no sweat in a truck. GEEEEZ.

Anonymous said...

awesome road....very scenic and fun to drive....

Anonymous said...

Biggest surprise on my 5000 mile motorcycle trip from Victoria BC Canada to Tombstone AZ and back. Rode up from valley floor and was terrified all the way - too afraid to stop on gravel and just about pissed my pants when I met cars coming down on switchbacks. Taking my son on it this year (June 2012) so we can bond by being terrified together. Happy Fathers Day!

Anonymous said...

Next time use a better camera person!