Driving Up the Moki Dugway

Bluff, UT

The Moki Dugway is located on Utah Route 261 just north of Mexican Hat, UT.  It was constructed in 1958 by a mining company to transport uranium ore.   Route 261 is thirty-four miles long, with most of it on a flat, nicely paved two lane road.   The tricky part is the three miles of unpaved, but well graded, switchbacks go up 1100 feet to the top of Cedar Mesa.

The term “moki” is derived from the Spanish word moqui, which was a general term used by the 18th century Spanish explorers and settlers in this region to describe the Pueblo Indians they encountered and the vanished culture which left behind the numerous ruins in the area. The term continued to be used by the pioneers who moved into southern Utah during the 1800’s and their descendants.

Be Warned!

As we approached the Dugway,  the road was nice smooth pavement.  But looking ahead we just couldn’t see where the road was going to go as we approached the Mesa wall.

While on a nicely paved road, if you see this sign . . .

. . .get ready for this.

Now we begin to head up ! !

We stopped at a turn-out to check out the view.  In the distance, we could see something in the gap between the rocks.

A zoom picture revealed some people at the next turn-out in the road enjoying the view.

As we looked around, we could hear a large vehicle coming up the road behind us.  Signs down below warned against large vehicles using the road,  but around the corner came this big boy!

We watched as the truck made its way up the road ahead of us.

We continued up-ward to the next turn-out, where the views were quite impressive.

After successfully negotiating the Moki Dugway, we continued driving north to explore Natural Bridges National Monument.  More on that adventure in our next blog.

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16 Responses to Driving Up the Moki Dugway

  1. I can’t believe the 18 wheeler. . I love the picture looking down on the switchbacks…most impressive! You sure look mighty close to the edge!

  2. We love the Moki Dugway road…
    30 years ago it wasn’t nearly so wide. Re: Natural Bridges…FYI…it’s the rattlesnake capital of Utah. If you stay in the campground, ALWAYS take a flashlight when you go out after dark. They love to crawl onto the warm pavement after the sun goes down…where several get squished by vehicles every night. The ranger programs there are terrific.
    Box Canyon Mark

  3. Annette Lamb says:

    I agree. They’ve really widened the Moki Dugway.

  4. libertatemamo says:

    Wow…can’t believe that big old truck. The Moki actually looks wider than I expected. We didn’t do the drive when we were there, but looking at the pics I think I could handle it. Love the view from the top!
    Nina

  5. Did you drive down to Muley Point, the first left at the top of the Dugway? We boondocked there, right on the rim. Of couse we didn’t drive the RV up the Dugway, but came the easy way from Natural Bridges.

  6. pmbweaver says:

    What was that crazy truckers doing on that road? Was it a shortcut between two points? I guess some signs just don’t apply to everyone.

    Great picture of you, Pam. Another lovely area.

    That dirt road actually doesn’t look too bad. You never know until you actually drive it.

  7. We’ve driven the Moki Dugway twice…in a car–not a motorhome or 5th wheel! Can’t believe that 18 wheeler going up there. It must be his own 18-wheeler shortcut. And I bet he only does it going UP!!!!

  8. P.S. It could have been a woman driving the truck. Who knows? Also, towns in the area sell T-shirts that say, “I survived the Moki Dugway.”

  9. kudos for doing that drive, even in a car. Also can’t believe the trucker doing it.

  10. Wow! That looks like a road we definitely need to check out! I’d rather the truck be in front of me than behind me.

  11. LuAnn says:

    An 18-wheeler on that road? One would need nerves of steel to do that, I would think. The views from the top look well worth the drive.

  12. Geen says:

    Very nice pictures and good description. Thanks
    I don’t get it. Why so many of you are surprised there was a truck on Moki (Mokee) Dugway. After all this road constructed in the 1950′s provided a way to haul ore from the top of Cedar Mesa to the mill somewhere down near Mexican Hat. Only later it became a tourist attraction.

    • placestheygo says:

      We are no longer surprised that trucks drive that route after taking it many times during our stay. That blog was posted after our first visit and we were still hearing comments from others about how scary the road is. We didn’t find it all that intimidating. A few of the tight curves with a fast moving truck would make your heart skip a little, though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts:)

  13. Pingback: Crazy or Callous? | Live Laugh RV

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