Skip to main content

2016 Fall Mountain Trip Part 19; US Route 163 through Monument Valley

After completing Utah State Route 261 over the Moki Dugway I turned on US Route 163 headed south through Monument Valley towards Arizona.


This blog serves as Part 19 of the 2016 Mountain Trip Series, Part 18 can be found below:

2016 Fall Mountain Trip Part 18; Utah State Route 261 over the Moki Dugway

US Route 163 is a 64 mile US Route running from US 191 in Bluff of San Juan County, Utah southward to Kayenta of Navajo County, Arizona.  The majority of US 163 is located within the Navajo Nation and is highly scenic with notable features being; Valley of the Gods, the Mexican Hat, San Juan River and most notably Monument Valley.  US 163 is part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway.

US 163 is a relatively new US Route and a complete violation of the US Route numbering convention.  US 163 was plotted out over existing State Highways in 1970 when it ran from I-70/US 50/US 6 in Crescent Junction south to US 160 in Kayenta.  The route of US 163 was created from the following highways:

-  US 160 from Crescent Junction south to Monticello.
-  UT 47 to the Arizona State Line through Monument Valley.
-  AZ 464 from the Utah State line to Kayenta.

Interestingly UT 47 appears to have been maintained as a State Highway between Monticello and the Arizona State Line all the way back to 1910, although I'm not certain when it was first signed.  AZ 464 was first picked up as a State Highway in 1962 according arizonaroads.com.  The below map shows the route of UT 47 in 1950.

1950 Utah State Highway Map 

The stub about AZ 464 on arizonaroads.com can be found here:

arizonaroads.com on AZ 464

In 1983 US 163 had it's north terminus cut back to Monticello.  US 163 was further cut back to it's current north terminus in Bluff at US 191 in 1985.  Following the truncation of US 163 the State of Utah proposed extending it via what is now UT 162 and CO 41 but it was ultimately rejected.  More regarding the historic endpoints of US 163 can be found at USends.com.

USends.com on US 163

The majority of  my photos of US 163 were taken between 2013 to 2016.  In 2016 I didn't complete all of US 163 but started a couple miles from the north terminus at UT 261.  From the south terminus of UT 261 I turned south on US 163.



From the junction of US 163 and UT 261 the Valley of the Gods in addition to Cedar Mesa can seen directly to the north.





Traveling south on US 163 towards the community of Mexican Hat the namesake rock formation can be seen looking east towards the San Juan River.  The Mexican Hat is a sombrero shape rock formation that is 60x12 feet in dimension.


In Mexican Hat US 163 crosses over the 1953 San Juan River Bridge where it enters the Navajo Nation.  This photo below was from 2013.


After crossing the San Juan River the sandstone bluffs of Monument Valley are almost immediately apparent.  These photos date back to the winter of 2016 at Mile Marker 16.


Over the years I found that Mile Marker 13 was most likely the location that car magazines take pictures of Monument Valley.  This photo below dates back to 2015 when I clinched the entirety of US 163 for the second time.  Apparently Mile Marker 13 of US 163 is known as "Forest Gump Point" due to it being the location the final running scene of the movie was shot at.


Mile Marker 13 of Monument Valley is also the location of a Navajo Trading Post where there is a highly scenic overlook.  Monument Valley is a collection of weather sandstone buttes with the highest reaching over 1,000 feet in height.  Monument Valley has been the backdrop of all sorts of popular media since the 1930s and currently is part of the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.






When I was driving through Monument Valley in 2015 US 163 was being repaved.




In 2013 the bluffs of Monument Valley were covered in snow. 


There is a scenic view of Monument Valley even from the Arizona State Line on US 163.



Upon entering Arizona the path of US 163 southward ascends over a small pass before entering Kayenta where it has junction with Bureau of Indian Affairs Route 106.


US 163 ends at US 160 in Kayenta.  I turned west on US 160 towards the Grand Canyon.


Part 20 of this series covers US 160 in Arizona.

2016 Fall Mountain Trip Part 20; US Route 160 in Arizona



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

One Long Drive - Allegheny County's Orange Belt

When I trace my early interest in traveling and the hobby of roadgeeking, I always go back to where I grew up. Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA 48, and the Orange Belt. I grew up on Route 48 in Elizabeth Township on the Orange Belt. One of my family's favorite stories of me growing up is when I was around three years old - so 1980 - I told one of my aunts, "It's not that hard to get to our house - we live on the Orange Belt!"  The Allegheny County Belt System is one of the many things that are uniquely Pittsburgh. A series of existing roadways - minor and major - developed in post-World War II Allegheny County to navigate the region. Never intended to be a "beltway" in the modern sense - a full freeway encircling a city - the Allegheny County system is more like a wayfinding system connecting you throughout the county. It is uniquely Pittsburgh - it's been asked about , written about , and videoed .  On a recent visit home, I decided to drive the entire

Mosquito Road Bridge

The Mosquito Road Bridge is a wooden suspension span crossing the South Fork American River of El Dorado County.  The Mosquito Road Bridge incorporates elements in it's foundation which date back to 1867 making it likely the oldest highway bridge in California still is in service for it's original purpose.  The Mosquito Road Bridge can be found approximately 6.5 miles northeast of downtown Placerville.    Author's Note; Gribblenation's 2,000th published blog This blog serves as the 2,000th published entry on the Gribblenation blog site.  Ironically the the 2,000th blog entry closely aligns with the 20th anniversary of Gribblenation.  Adam and Doug recently discussed the history of Gribblenation on the Gribblenation 20th Anniversary Podcast: https://anchor.fm/gribblenation/episodes/Gribblenation-20th-Anniversary-Podcast-ep2nh8 For my own part I (Tom) have been part of Gribblenation since late 2016, it has been an honor to be part of one of the longest lived highway pages