Mexican Hat, Utah – A Special Hoodoo in the Red Rocks

March 2019 – The Utah red rocks are full of whimsical formations that are easily recognizable. One of the most charming is Mexican Hat, a rock formation that unmistakeably resembles a sombrero.

Mexican Hat Utah RV trip adventure

A Mexican sombrero caps off the landscape in Utah.

We were traveling through southeastern Utah with our RV, and before we arrived at this fantastic stone hat we found some wonderful patterns in the red rocks. We spent a little time doing some wide angle photography, playing with the colorful lines in the sandstone.

Leading lines in wide angle photo in Utah-min


As the golden hour unfolded before sunset, I was astonished to look down at my feet and see a rainbow of colors!

Wide angle photography in Utah-min

So much color right at my feet!

The red, yellow, orange and gray stripes were beautiful, and we explored these unusual patterns at dusk and again at dawn.

Sunrise with puppy in Utah-min

Buddy watched the sunrise with us.

In some cases we focused our photos on the tiny patterns at our feet, but the size and scale of these immense rock landscapes was mind boggling.

Utah landscape-min

Huge landscapes dwarf Mark and Buddy on a rock outcropping.

In many places the sandstone was solid underfoot, but in other places it gave way to patches of red beach sand and small dunes.

Red rock patterns in Utah-min

Ancient sand dunes turned to stone — lines and patterns everywhere.

Buddy loved lying in the hot sand in the heat of the day and rubbing himself in its toasty warmth.

He also got a kick out of chasing the lizards and birds that live in this exotic land. Of course, the bigger birds just stood their ground when they saw the excited puppy coming.

One crow began to tease him, flying just out of reach and squawking. Buddy took the bait and tore after the crow, running and jumping as the bird swerved and dipped his wings near him.

Suddenly Buddy took a big leap, eyes focused intently on the crow. He misjudged the uneven ground beneath him, lost his footing, and crashed into the sand chest first in a cloud of red dust.

When he stood up and shook himself off he was wearing a pink bib and gloves!

Puppy in red rock sand Utah-min

Buddy sports a peach bib and gloves after taking a flying leap after a bird and crash landing in the sand.

Rivers and waterways are responsible for the fantastic landscapes in this area, and when we drove over a bridge crossing the Colorado River we loved the contrast of the crimson cliffs and snowy mountains in the background.

Colorado River in Utah Glen Canyon-min

Snowy mountains and red rock cliffs.

The landscapes were filled with color and vibrance.

Colorful landscape at the golden hour in Utah-min

Vivid colors at the golden hour.

We crossed the San Juan River at the town of Mexican Hat. After driving over a hundred miles through vast empty landscapes, this village perched above the river was a fun surprise, and we got out to explore a bit.

Colorado River Bridge at Mexican Hat Utah-min

The village of Mexican Hat is perched along one side of the river.

Someone had put a three-legged chair in a spot with a great view of the village on the opposite bank. You never know what you’ll find out here!

Town of Mexican Hat Utah-min

Have a seat — but don’t fall over!

We continued on and the skies clouded over. Storms brewed in the distance while the sun lit portions of the land here and there. What a magical place.

Storm clouds and rain over red rock landscape in Utah-min

Storm clouds and rain drift across the red rock landscape.

Storm and dark clouds in the Utah red rocks-min

The rain never made it to us, but what a wonderfully brooding sky this was!

The village of Mexican Hat is named for the fun rock formation that looks like a Mexican sombrero. It was easy to spot and made us smile. What a perfect name for this formation and the village nearby!

Mexican Hat rock formation under storm clouds in Utah-min

Mexican Hat is impossible to miss!

Buddy decided to try it out and see how it fit.

Sombrero Mexican Hat over puppy-min

Buddy tries the hat on for size.

Catching it from different angles and zooming in, the hat really dose look like a sombrero.

Mexican Hat Utah-min

It’s a true sombrero from this angle!

Just how big is this rock formation? Enormous! There were some hikers standing at its base…

Hikers at Mexican Hat Utah-min

It doesn’t look that big until you notice the hikers!

As the afternoon wore on, the hat cast its shadow across the valley below.

Shadow of Mexican Hat rock formation in Utah-min

In the late afternoon Mexican Hat cast a shadow across the valley.

And as the sun set it became a silhouette against the sky.

Mexican Hat Utah sunset silhouette-min


And then it grew wings.

Sunset at Mexican Hat Utah-min

With colorful flying clouds!

Continuing on, we saw incredible wavy patterns in the red rocks.

Clouds over red rocks in Utah-min

We noticed vivid patterns in the distant hills.

We hopped in the RZR to drive into the landscape a little further. We rounded a bend and found a couple taking a break from their Jeep ride to enjoy a quiet moment in their camp chairs with a fabulous view.

Polaris RZR ride in Utah red rocks-min

We followed a jeep road into the landscape.

Exotic landscape in Utah-min

A couple relaxes in their camp chairs in the middle of their Jeep ride!

These landscapes just begged us to head off into the red rocks to take photos.

Photographer in Utah red rocks-min

Mark heads out to take some pics.

We were drawn to the swirling patterns on the hillsides and couldn’t stop our cameras from clicking away.

Swirling rock formations in Utah-min

Triangular patterns swirled across the base of the mountains.

Red rock swirl formations in Utah-min

Red rock waves.

Wave patterns in Utah red rocks-min

An undulating landscape.

Just how big are these wavy patterns? I had wandered around on foot exploring and then I looked up and noticed our RZR leaning up against this jaw-dropping landscape. Wow!

Wavy patterns in red rocks with scale shown by Polaris RZR-min

How big are those patterns? Pretty big!

With that in mind, here are a few more images taken as clouds rolled in overhead.

Wavy red rock patterns and swirls in Utah-min

Approaching clouds played with the light.

Utah red rock wavy patterns and swirls-min


We wanted to stay longer, but it was still quite cold in this part of Utah. Our fingers and toes were tired of being numb! We had been in long pants and jackets for too long and we were ready to get back to central Arizona where the temps were hovering in the high 70s. Ahhhh….!

Fifth wheel trailer RV triple tow-min

What a great area. We’ll be back!!

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22 thoughts on “Mexican Hat, Utah – A Special Hoodoo in the Red Rocks

  1. So much color and beauty! Absolutely enjoyed your photography of the landscapes. Pictures of Buddy are so fun – he seems to be an amazing little friend/traveler. I look forward to your next adventure.

    • Thank you very much, JoAnn! Buddy is a really great little companion, and he’s super fun to photograph too, especially in beautiful places like this. We really appreciate your coming along with us on our adventures via the web. Thank you for your kind words!!

  2. I am always shocked at the natural, raw beauty of the West….after I am there for a while, I long for green…..only to long for those fabulous colors when surrounded by green! I can’t make up my mind!! Your blog and photos are beautiful and awe-inspiring! Thank you!

    • We’re with you, Susan. We love the red rocks and the beautiful vegetation of the Sonoran Desert, but there is nothing like getting into the snow capped mountains and alpine lakes for a while. But then we long for the saguaro cacti and red rocks again. That’s why we haven’t settled down anywhere!! Thank you for reading.

  3. Oh ! my – how the photo workshops have brought new perspective to your work….love, love, love !!!! Such natural beauty in this landscape…”lunar” in a sense ! And Buddy, clad in his colorful dust…with his “Clint-Squint”….

    • Thank you very much, LibertyFreedomPatriot (great handle!)! Please check your email and even your junk/spam folders for emails from me on March 23 and again on April 6. You can always email me directly: emilyfagan1 < at > gmail.

  4. What a unique landscape!! I’ve never been there and thank you for sharing a snapshot of our adventures-to-be 🙂
    Beautiful pictures!! Buddy is so content wherever you take him – what a good pup!!

    • All of southern Utah is criss-crossed with unbelievably scenic roads and dramatic open landscapes. When you get to Utah you’ll be blown away by the beauty. You have some fabulous adventures ahead of you!!

    • There were two cairns on that berm, Mary, and I don’t know who put them there or why, but it sure was cute when Buddy posed next to the one and under the hat! The colors were amazing, however I have to say it took some hunting to find that array of lines with yellow and red. What luck that they pointed to the red rock formations in the distance! If it weren’t for the photography workshop I probably would have just glanced at those colorful lines and not really thought about their potential for a photo!!

  5. Emily,
    Gorgeous pictures as always. So much beauty in such a relatively small area. Love them all, but especially the one of Buddy wearing the hat. 😉

  6. Wonderful images. Thank you for sharing. We liked the southern Utah area so much that after 10 years of fulltiming we purchased our home here and only travel part of the year, now. We have been here thirteen years, never gets boring.
    By the way, we call that look that Buddy is giving you the “Clint Squint” as in “make my day”.

    • We have thought about doing exactly what you did, Mary. Maybe someday we’ll join you in that gorgeous part of the country and travel part-time. For now, though, our little Clint Squinter (love it!) gets a kick out of seeing new places and smelling new things all the time, so we’re on the go and exploring. Enjoy your piece of paradise!!

  7. Beautiful pictures make me feel like I am right there! Love this area of Utah and it’s always a pleasure to experience it through your travels. That is quite a long rig you have there with your RZR on the back!

    • Thank you, Liz. Southern Utah is absolutely exquisite, and we are always stunned by the beauty of the landscapes there. We’ll undoubtedly be back in a few months! We’re calling our rig The Train now, because it is insanely long. But the RZR is a total blast, and this is the easiest way to tote it around for now!


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