RoadRUNNER’s Bucket List Roads: U.S.-163 Red Rocks Rhapsody

May 10, 2014 View Comments by

RoadRUNNER's Bucket List Roads: U.S.-163 Red Rocks RhapsodyThis may not have been where the west was won, but it certainly was where many of John Ford’s iconic westerns, starring John Wayne, were filmed, including Stagecoach, The Searchers, and others. Films shot in Monument Valley by other directors range from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) to National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983). Route U.S.-163 departs U.S.-191 in Utah, passes through Mexican Hat, UT, on the banks of the San Juan River, and on to Monument Valley before crossing into Arizona and terminating at U.S.-160 in the Navajo town of Kayenta. This is a remote area. The best bet for obtaining gas and food along the route is Mexican Hat, UT.

Scenery: Motoring south on U.S.-163 from Mexican Hat, riders will see, in the far distance, the much-photographed, straight-as-an-arrow tarmac leading to the majestic sandstone formations of Monument Valley. (See “Destinations” in this month’s newsletter for more information on Monument Valley and RoadFOOD.) Traveling along U.S.-163, riders are surrounded by wind sculpted sandstone spires, hoodoos, buttes, and mesas, reaching skyward from the high desert plain—a magical feast for the eyes.

Curves: Elevation changes, sharp curves, and long sweepers.

Traffic: Usually light

Distance: Approximately 123 miles

Time Required: Three hours to all day, depending on stops

Technical Difficulty: Moderate

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