Dust Storm

Sometimes
Life moves at a pace
I cannot keep

Or rather
Life moves
I simply do not

And in my disastrous stillness
The dust storm rolls in
Without hesitation

To Roll
Over
Me

Move or don’t move
Retreat or don’t retreat
Seek cover or…

Let
The dust
Take me

Comes the Dust
Moki Dugway
Utah State Highway 261
Utah, United States of America

Taken during travels, 2022

“Moki” is a local word for the ancient Puebloan people who lived here hundreds of years ago. “Dugway” describes a road carved from a hillside.

Moki Dugway is a short section of unpaved Utah State Highway 261 that climbs 1200 feet nearly straight up over several switchbacks to the crest of Cedar Mesa, near Mexican Hat, Utah, at a grade of about 12%. There are just a few guardrails, but it’s fairly well graded dirt road with some bits of chewed up asphalt on a couple switchbacks. I drove a 35′ 5th wheel RV up it in 1996, which is discouraged by signage at both the top and bottom of the Mesa, but, it’s definitely doable. And, yeah, that’s Highway 261 running south at the bottom of the mesa.

The view from the top is, well, you don’t even have to imagine — it’s every bit as spectacular as this video suggests. It’s also more expansive than it seems here. I shot this timelapse with a fisheye lens. Within that frame is a 180 degree view, so I’ve scrunched a scene which spans from fingertip to fingertip with arms stretched out to your sides into a picture frame.
I love this part of the world. So many exquisite landscapes in the area, and I haven’t visited but a small fraction of them, but here are a few I have photographed, more-or-less visible from Moki Dugway. On the far right of the video frame, off the tip of mesa jutting into the scene, you can just make out the shadow of Monument Valley on the horizon. Look for it early in the video, because by the end it’s completely obscured by the dust storm that’s rolling in.  Goosenecks State Park is this side of Monument Valley, but a bit further to the left from the Mesa. You can’t see it at all as the feature is too far away and the canyon walls cut steeply into the plateau. Valley of the Gods is to the left.