Mexican Hat Utah is a destination that travelers shouldn’t overlook when planning trips through the American Southwest. This small town of less than 100 residents sits on the banks of the San Juan River and is only 22 miles from beautiful Monument Valley. Even closer is a state park, an excellent overlook, and the scenic Valley of the Gods area, which all adds up to plenty to both see and do while in the area.
Mexican Hat Utah mainly serves as a stopping point for travelers who are headed to Monument Valley, and a finer stopping point there could hardly be. Impressive rock formations, some of which were carved out by the San Juan River, surround the town. They include Mexican Hat Rock, which is a rocky outcropping that resembles a sombrero that has been overturned. Specifically, you can find Mexican Hat’s namesake rock formation to the near north of town, and there are two rock climbing routes that ascend up the jagged sides of its base.
The rock is magnificent and surprisingly large, at 60 feet wide and 12 feet thick, and the sombrero-shaped formation is impressively balanced as well, on a fine point at the top of a larger rock formation. Every year on March 8, Mexican Hat residents meet at Mexican Hat Rock to celebrate their census-designated status. It is common to wear sombreros during the celebration, which is fitting and extra festive, as when you explore the area you’ll see that there are no other Mexican hats to be found.
When Mexican Hat Utah visitors aren’t venturing off to Monument Valley, exploring the Valley of the Gods, or checking out the rock formation that gives the town its name, they can enjoy a number of other fun activities. Wonderful vistas of the San Juan River can be seen from both the Muley Point Overlook and the lookout at Goosenecks State Park, for example, while those who want to get a closer look at the river can always look to arrange a rafting adventure.
In addition to rafting, some of the great outdoor activities to try around Mexican Hat including fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and riding ATVs. Outdoor enthusiasts can also go camping in the area. Nearby Bluff has at least two RV parks for those who are interested, and there are primitive campsites in Goosenecks State Park. One more option is the campground at Goulding’s Lodge, which is just six miles outside the Monument Valley Tribal Park.
If camping isn’t part of the plan, there are other Mexican Hat lodging options. At least two Mexican Hat inns are available, for example: the delightful Hat Rock Inn and the highly affordable San Juan Inn. As for other Mexican Hat hotels, there’s the Mexican Hat Lodge, which offers motel-style rooms to go with its restaurant, which specializes in excellent steaks. Also available if you just want a simple room at a very good price is the Canyonlands Motel. Outside of town, the Valley of the Gods Bed and Breakfasts provides what is easily one of the best lodging options around. Also, nearby Bluff offers up the inviting Decker House B&B and the well-priced Recapture Lodge.
As a side note, anyone who is visiting the Mexican Hat area is encouraged to familiarize themselves with both the Goulding’s Lodge and the View Hotel. These are quite simply the two best bases for Monument Valley escapes. As mentioned earlier, the Goulding’s Lodge is just six miles from the Navajo Tribal Park, while the View Hotel can actually be found within the park boundaries. Guests at both of these Monument Valley hotels enjoy amazing views of some of the area’s most renowned landmarks, and it’s hard to find fault with the guest units, the general facilities, and the activity options.