Mexican Hat Rock: A Desert Oddity. 👒

Typically a stop on any good Four Corners or Southwest-inspired road trip itinerary, Mexican Hat Rock is geological oddity named for its obvious sombrero shape. Believed to be around 250 million years old, it’s located just outside of beautiful Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park., approximately 10 minutes past famous “Forest Gump Point” on Highway 163. In fact, many who visit one site visit the other. It can be either a quick photo-op or an extended hiking and rock-climbing adventure. Regardless of your plans, Mexican Hat Rock is well worth the stop (especially since it’s free 🙃).

Perched 300 feet high, Mexican Hat Rock is a vibrant reddish-orange color and measures 60-foot wide (18 m) by 12-foot tall (3.7 m). The first recorded climb was in 1962; however, a pole found on top was later discovered to have been left by two local Navajo men, who had used a ladder to ascend first. Today, there are two rock-climbing routes ascending to the rock, the Robbins–Turner Route and the Bandito Route, with the latter being the standard route used today. In fact, the popular hiking app AllTrails shows only one, the Bandito Route.

The Bandito Route is a 0.7 mile, out-and-back trail rated as “hard”. There’s an elevation gain of 183 feet and areas that require some Class III scramble – i.e., using one’s hands to climb up steep, rocky terrain. There are also sheer drop-offs the further you ascend. Per those who’ve climbed it, it’s easy in the beginning, becomes harder in the middle with a lot of loose rock, and then finally comes the scramble. Those who are afraid of heights are advised not to attempt.

Camping is allowed, although there are no restroom facilities located at Mexican Hat Rock. The closest 24/7 Exxon gas station/bathroom is back in Mexican Hat (the town), located about 2.5 miles south.

Had to grab my hat 🤪

Overall, if you’re ever taking a Four Corners (Four Corners National Monument.) or American Southwest roadie, I highly recommend carving out 15 to 20 minutes to enjoy one of nature’s odder creations. If you have more time and feel skilled enough, give the hike and climb a go! Either way, no road trip in the area would be complete with a stop at Mexican Hat Rock. 👒

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