I love winding roads. From the Moki Dugway (see what the heck is a Moki Dugway), to crossing the Andes, descending toward Cerro Castillo and finally ascending to Machu Picchu. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I loved riding on the roads.
Some roads in South America are noted for their zigzags with good reason. You simply don’t want to take the fast way down. Here are a couple. The first is the main highway from Santiago that crosses over the Andes and takes you to Mendoza. Raeski took this photo from the bus window. The second dirt road takes you to Machu Piccu. If you are like most, you wish the bus driver would take it a little slower.
After a stop at Utah’s Goosenecks State Park, Raeski and I continued driving up route UT-261 to reach Natural Bridges National Monument. I didn’t know if we would be able to go this route because of an obstacle called the Moki Dugway. This is a portion of the highway that goes from pavement to dirt and our topless Miss Mini Cooper much prefers the nice paved roads she was built to drive on instead of rough dirt roads.
As you approach the dugway the first road sign the state of Utah deems to warn the casual driver of is impending doom and destruction if you are in something they consider oversize or overweight. I guess they are leaving it up to you to decide if you fall in that category. In the photo you can see the next sign warns you about 5mph switchbacks and 10% grades which means you’re in for a steep road that gains 10 feet in elevation for every 100 feet you travel.
Upon reaching the dusty dirt portion of the road we find it is in very good condition and not rough at all but with some rain it could be a very different story. Wooly loves roads that are like spaghetti. The switchbacks reminded us of our trip between Santiago Chile and Mendoza Argentina. However the Moki doesn’t have 29 switchbacks like that road. As you climb the views are impressive and fortunately there are wide spots in the road where you can stop and sneak in a photo or two.
There is one vista where you can pull completely off the road and are greeted with a view of the road below and some of the switchbacks and the plateau below. It was a bit of fortune that I was able to shoot a photo of a truck pulling a horse trailer up the road that gives size perspective. This seems to be a popular stopping point because if you look online you will find many photos taken from this spot and now I’m adding mine to the mix.
While it’s not Mt. Everest, when you get to the top the views makes it
seem like you are on top of the world. Looking east you see a portion of Monument Valley and to the south you see the twisted canyon of the San Juan River. To the north you enter a forest of Juniper trees, open range, and cattle standing in the middle of the road. Yes, we literally had to make our way around a cow standing in the middle of the road.
Okay, so how in the world did ‘they’ (the ever present unidentified corporate they) come up with the name Moki Dugway?
In deference to our Spanish speaking friends, it should really be spelled Moqui which was
a term the Spanish explorers used to describe the Pueblo Indians they met in the area. Of course Americans being Americans have to change the word to something more pronounceable to their tongue instead of learning the rules of Spanish pronunciation. So you get the new name of Moki. But wouldn’t Mokee have served that purpose better? Maybe they were just lazy and didn’t want to use an extra vowel.
And a dugway is a road or path excavated from a high land form for means of transport. From this you get the name Moki Dugway as the road cuts through roughly 1,100 feet of the sheer walls of Cedar Mesa.