On the drive from Monument Valley to the Valley of the Gods there’s a rock that looks like a giant sombrero. It’s called Mexican Hat Rock and is a geologic oddity.
It’s a 60-foot wide, 12-foot tall rock sitting precariously atop a much smaller rock, giving it the look of a man wearing a sombrero. The giant hoodoo rising up next to the San Juan River is pretty much in the middle of nowhere in southeast Utah. It kind of pops out of nowhere along Highway 163, about 24 miles west of the tiny town of Bluff. You can see it from the highway, but you’ll have to take the dirt road for a closer view, which is what my friend Lisa and I did.
Driving from Monument Valley, we came upon the small town of Mexican Hat first. The settlement was founded by E.L. Goodridge, who established an unproductive oil claim in 1908. The town sits on the San Juan River and today is a take-out point for river trips. The scenery is filled with red and grey rocks twisted into strange convoluted formations including Mexican Hat Rock.
If you’re a climber, there are two routes to the top: the more popular Bandito route and more difficult Royal Robbins route. From the top, you would be able to see the Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley, San Juan River, and the Comb Ridge Anticline. Apparently, there are some interesting relics in the summit cairn. We didn’t climb. We just marvel at the sandstone sombrero from the dirt road, which gave us a better view of the remnant of the Halgaito Formation which formed when sediments deposited on a coastal plain during Late Pennsylvanian time. The ridge line in the distance is the crest of the Raplee Anticline, a long narrow fold upward that formed during the Laramide Orogeny about 70 to 50 million years ago.