More than just a peculiar name, Mexican Hat, Utah is of significance to lovers of the Southwest for being next to Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley, Goosenecks State Park and a beautiful stretch of the San Juan River.
But how’d it get its name anyway?
The answer comes from an easily recognizable rock formation that resembles a person’s head with a large sombrero on it. Some people might say it’s a sombrero sitting upside down.
Either way, it’s easily recognizable when traveling by on Highway 163 between Bluff, Utah and Monument Valley. The rock structure is about two miles north of town, or a few miles past the turn-off for Valley of the Gods if you’re driving southbound on 163.
There’s a short loop road around Mexican Hat rock that holds several primitive camping sites, including a few along the San Juan River. But if you’re camping in the area, you’re way better off settling down at Valley of the Gods.
The town of Mexican Hat was first established in the late 1800s when an American settler discovered oil in the area. Later the town went through another boom and bust period in the middle of the 20th century because of uranium mining. While it’s population once reached 1,000 people, today the population is less than 50 permanent residents.
The stone sombrero is also a destination for rock climbers, and river rafting trips frequently use the local boat launch site.