My fellow photographer and frequent partner-in-crime Ty Cook and I found ourselves enjoying our trip a bit too much. We had tarried that day at the attractions along the way to Muley Point. The sun was setting fast, and in the parlance of the Hollywood cinematographer, we were burning daylight. We had to make it to the overlook before the last traces of good light disappeared, since we lacked the thermonuclear device that would have been necessary to illuminate a vast array of natural wonders spread over hundreds of square miles.
A few miles out of Mexican Hat, Utah State 261 turns into dirt and heads up through a section known only as the Moki Dugway. You might have heard of the Moki Dugway: It’s frequently written up in articles with titles like “Deadliest Roads in the World.” It’s only about three miles, but those miles are carved into Cedar Mesa with more switchbacks than a swing state senator in a contested election. In those three miles, the road climbs 1,100 feet. Ominous signs showing out-of-control trucks warn of 10% grades.
And we were burning daylight.
Needless to say, we made it, though there were times when I wondered if the contents of Ty’s stomach would still be with us at the top. We were greeted by a panoramic view of the Valley of the Gods. Through about 270 degrees of perspective, we saw the curvature of the earth punctuated by the astounding peaks and moguls of Monument Valley, with just enough daylight to capture the pic you see above.
The trip back down was more leisurely, and Ty and I remain friends to this day.