Thursday, April 19, 2007

Moki Dugway

Where this was about to take us?

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 the region to describe the Pueblo Indians they encountered.

What is the Moki Dugway? To me, it is an experience, one of performing the impossible.

Actually, it is just a road, or part of one (Hwy 261)...but a very steep (10% grade) and winding road. It was built by a mining company (Texas Zinc) in 1958 to transport uranium ore to Mexican Hat for processing. Three miles of unpaved switchbacks take you 1100 feet up to the top of Cedar Mesa. That's what you see in the distance in the photo below.

Cedar Mesa rises 1,100 feet above the plain.
Unbelievably, we were about to ascend it.
N37.24441 W109.91474

We began the ascent.

After several hundred feet the asphalt pavement disappeared, replaced by dusty gravel. We could never see very far ahead, and several times I thought we were nearing the end, only to be surprised again at the next turn. The views looking down on the tableland below became more and more interesting.

Looking back at where we came from, but still 200 feet from the top

Reaching the top of the mesa (6,418 feet above sea level) the air was cooler and there was much more vegetation. Trees! Our trip was entering a new phase...Welcome to Utah.

N 37.27673 W109.93604

Next: Utah Hwy 95: A Great Scenic Road

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