Look Back in Time: In 1984 a Boeing B-52G plane crashed into Hunts Mesa. 2 of the 7 crew members were killed in the accident.
Hunts Mesa is an extraordinary place within the Monument Valley Tribal Park. It requires some planning and foresight to visit. There are two routes to get to the top of the Mesa. The dirt road takes a total of 4 hours round trip. So most one day trips take a total of 6 hours to complete. There are overnight trips offered which are a total of 18 hours. The road is a 1950s route that was carved out of the Mesa by uranium mining crews to extract the ore from the tops of the Mesa. There are over 1,500 uranium mines within the Monument Valley area. The road is a very rough trail that requires a knowledgeable driver to navigate. There are many roads that explore the desert area and it’s easy to get lost. The road is bumpy and goes over rough and smooth sandstone and a lot of sand dunes. We recommend that you bring Dramamine or other medication if you get car sick easily. There are many stops along the way in and out where you will get to see anasazi ruins and natural sandstone arches.
The second route is an old hiking route that takes you from within the valley on a 2.5 mile hike to the top. This typically take a total of 6 hours as well. You must drive from the visitor center to the back of the restricted section of the park (1 hour). You then park near the big hogan arch and begin the hike to the top. The highlight of this hike is the 30ft rope ladder that takes you up the side of a small cliff. There are a few places in which you need to scramble. If heights or steep elevation gains on slick rock (sandstone) are not your expertise we recommend booking a hike to the top of Mitchell Mesa. If you are okay with this, you follow a finger of the Mesa up and up. At the top is a steep sand dune that you must climb and then you are at the top. There are no amenities and you must bring all your snacks and drinks. Once at the top most people spend about 1 hour and begin the hike back down the same way you came up.
Uranium Mining on Hunts Mesa
There were two significant mines located on top of Hunts Mesa. Although Hunts Mesa is an inhospitable and difficult location to reach the copper-uranium deposits were large enough to warrant the extraction and building of a road to the summit.
The deposits or channels were named Hunts Mesa No. 1 and No. 2. The first channel was believed to be 300 feet wide by 50 ft deep. The second was smaller at 50 feet wide by 20 feet deep.
On the night of October 16th 1984 a routine low elevation training mission was flying over Monument Valley. The plane experienced intermittent snow and flew into the west side of Hunts Mesa clipping an engine and a portion of its wing. On board the B-52G Stratofortress, 6 of the 7 crew members were successfully ejected from the plane. Sgt. David W. Felix, 1 of the 6 ejected had a malfunction with his parachute and died upon impact with the ground. Col. William L. Ivy went down with the plane died upon impact. The remaining 5 crew members were extracted by helicopter. Parts of the 225 ton plan are still visible on Hunts Mesa. The majority was cleaned up by a military crew 1 year later.