U.S. Route 163

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U.S. Route 163

US 163 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by ADOT and UDOT
Length64.62 mi[1][2] (104.00 km)
Major junctions
South end US 160 / BIA Route 591 south of Kayenta, AZ
North end US 191 in Bluff, UT
CountryUnited States
StatesArizona, Utah
CountiesAZ: Navajo
UT: San Juan
Highway system
  • Arizona State Highway System
  • Utah State Highway System
US 101US US 400
US 160AZ SR 169
SR-162UT SR-164

U.S. Route 163 (also U.S. Highway 163, US 163) is a 64-mile (103 km) U.S. Highway that runs from US 160 northward to US 191 in the U.S. states of Arizona and Utah. The southernmost 44 miles (71 km) of its length are within the Navajo Nation. The highway forms part of the Trail of the Ancients, a National Scenic Byway. The highway cuts through the heart of Monument Valley and has been featured in numerous movies and commercials.

The highway was designated in 1970, replacing Arizona State Route 464 and Utah State Route 47 as well as a portion of the old alignment of US 160 in Utah. In 1981, US 191 was routed over the northern section of US 163, effectively truncating the northern terminus to Bluff, UT, from Crescent Junction. The state of Utah briefly had plans for a different routing of US 163 north of Bluff. These plans were rejected, resulting in discrepancies between the signed route and the official designation by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials that were not resolved until 2008. The route number does not follow the numbering convention for U.S. Highways, as the number 163 would normally be used for a spur of US 63;[4] however, these two highways have never connected.

Route description

US 163 near Monument Valley, Utah


The southern terminus of US 163 is at a junction with US 160 south of Kayenta, AZ in Navajo and Navajo Nation. The road continues to the south of this junction as Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Route 591. US 163 heads north from US 160 to the west of the Kayenta Airport as it passes through the town of Kayenta, AZ. The highway curves toward the northeast in Kayenta before it curves back toward the north. As it continues north, the highway goes through an s-curve, resulting in a northeasterly heading. US 163 continues this heading as it heads toward Monument Valley and crosses into Utah.[5] The state of Arizona has designated an 18-mile (29 km) stretch of the highway, from approximately 5 miles (8 km) north of the US 160 junction to the Utah border, as a scenic route.[6]


The highway offers dramatic views.

The Utah portion of the highway begins in Monument Valley, in San Juan. Just after it enters Utah, the highway junctions with the Monument Valley Visitors center. The highway proceeds northeast until the town of Mexican Hat where the highway both crosses the San Juan River and exits the Navajo Nation. From Mexican Hat, the highway travels east crossing the Comb Ridge, toward its terminus in Bluff, UT. A significant portion of the Utah portion of the route north of the Navajo Nation is inside Bears Ears National Monument. Formerly, the route continued along what is now signed US 191 to I-70, however the portion north of Bluff was not signed after the creation of US 191 and was formally removed in 2008.[2][7][8] The length of US 163 in Utah has been designated the Bluff to Monument Valley Scenic Byway by the Utah State Legislature[9] and forms part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway.[10] All highways in Utah are codified in law; US 163 is defined at Utah Code §72-4-122(3).[11] While Monument Valley and US 163 have been featured in numerous western movies, a specific view area near Utah mile marker 13 has recently been given the nickname Forrest Gump hill, as a location from the movie Forrest Gump. It has become common for fans of the film to re-create the scene where the title character ends a cross country jogging along this point on US 163.[12]


US 163 seen toward the northeast.

The modern routing of US 163 in Utah was initially designated as State Route 47, in 1910. SR 47 extended to Monticello at a junction with then US 160.[13] In Arizona, the road appeared on maps as early as 1935, but it was an unimproved dirt road.[14] The Arizona portion was added to the state highway system in 1960 when it was designated as State Route 464.[15]

In 1970, US 163 was designated along SR 464 in Arizona and SR 47 in Utah as part of a re-alignment of U.S. highways in the Four Corners region.[3] With the re-alignment, US 160 was re-routed into Arizona instead of Utah.[16] US 163 also absorbed the former route of US 160 to its former terminus at Interstate 70 at Crescent Junction. In 1981, AASHTO approved a new iteration of US 191 that absorbed much of the alignment of US 163.[17] Utah truncated US 163 at Bluff, UT. The truncation was made without approval from AASHTO, as the AASHTO logs placed the northern terminus of US 163 at I-70 at Crescent Junction.[17]

View of Monument Valley in Utah, looking south on US 163

The state of Utah signed a joint intent with the Navajo Nation and San Juan in 1986 to construct a new highway to connect Bluff, UT with Montezuma Creek. Businesses in Monument Valley asked the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to request extensions of US 163 and US 666 using this new road.[18] The proposal would have US 163 run from Cedar City to US 160 near Cortez, Colorado along the routes of State Route 14, U.S. Route 89, Arizona State Route 98, US 160, the current US 163, the new road from Bluff to Montezuma Creek, and Colorado State Highway 41. The proposal for US 666 would extend to Richfield via upgrades to State Route 95 and State Route 24.[18] UDOT submitted the proposal for US 666 to AASHTO, which was rejected. AASHTO cited that the route was not direct, and SR-24 was not built to U.S. Highway standards.[18] UDOT did not pursue the extension of US 163, even though the Utah state legislature had approved the new road from Bluff to Montezuma creek as route 163.[17]

With this extension, the Utah definition of US 163 conflicted with the AASHTO definition. UDOT resolved this discrepancy by signing the extended portion as State Route 163. In 2004, the plan to extend US 163 was abandoned, and the extension was renumbered SR-162 to "make the state route numbers run synonymous with the U.S. route designation."[17] Although the state changed the definition of US 163 back to match the national definition in 2004, the portion north of Bluff remained unsigned.[17][19] In October 2008, UDOT requested and obtained approval to truncate US 163 to the junction with US 191 resolving the discrepancy.[7]

The highway corridor became controversial in 2016 with the designation of Bears Ears National Monument. The area near where US 163 crosses the Comb Ridge was included in some versions of the monument proposal, but excluded as a concession to local concerns in other versions. The proclamation signed by President Obama in 2016 did not include the Comb Ridge area,[20] however, was included with subsequent boundary changes by succeeding presidents.[21]

Junction list

US 160 / BIA Route 591 south – Tuba City, Four Corners
Southern terminus; highway continues as BIA Route 591
State line
UtahSan JuanMonument Valley0.4580.737 BIA Route 42 – Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitors Center
Mexican Hat24.84739.987
SR-261 north – Goosenecks State Park
41.40566.635 US 191 (Trail of the Ancients) – Bluff, Mexican WaterNorthern terminus; highway continues as US 191 north
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also


  1. ^ a b Arizona Department of Transportation. "2006 ADOT Highway Log" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 25, 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c "Highway Reference Online - US-163". Utah Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 3, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Arizona DOT Right-of-Way Resolutions". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 30, 2008.
  4. ^ "FreightWaves Classics: National Highway System helps commerce move from coast-to-coast". Freightwaves Inc. February 23, 2021. Retrieved June 18, 2021.
  5. ^ Google (April 30, 2008). "overview map of US 163 in Arizona" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved April 30, 2008.
  6. ^ Arizona Department of Transportation. "ADOT Right-of-Way Resolution 1996-06-A-031". Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  7. ^ a b Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (October 17, 2008). "Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering Meeting Minutes" (Report). Washington, DC: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Archived from the original (DOC) on October 16, 2017. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  8. ^ "US Route 163 Utah- Application for truncation". AASHTO. 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  9. ^ "Utah Office of Tourism". Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  10. ^ "Trail of the Ancients". U.S. Department of Transportation National Scenic Byway program. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
  11. ^ "Utah Code Annotated § 72-4-122(3)". State of Utah. Archived from the original on July 11, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  12. ^ MacArthur, Ron (October 17, 2019). "A must see: Forrest Gump's famous scene in Monument Valley". Cape Gazette. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  13. ^ "State Road Resolutions SR-47.pdf". Utah Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 7, 2008.
  14. ^ Road Map of Arizona (Map). Arizona State Highway Department. 1935. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  15. ^ Arizona Department of Transportation. "ADOT Right-of-Way Resolution 1961-041". Retrieved April 30, 2008.
  16. ^ Rookhuyzen, David (January 20, 2020). "Highway History: From Navajo Route 1 to US 160". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 25, 2023.
  17. ^ a b c d e "State Road Resolutions SR-163.pdf". Utah Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 7, 2008.
  18. ^ a b c "State Road Resolutions SR-666.pdf". Utah Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 7, 2008.
  19. ^ Dale Sanderson. "Images of current and historical signs at junction of US 163, US 191, US 6, US 50 and I-70 at Crescent Junction". Archived from the original on November 22, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  20. ^ Thompson, Jonathan (December 29, 2016). "Bears Ears a go — but here's where Obama drew the line: The designation's concessions are unlikely to appease ardent opponents". High Country News. Paonia, Colorado: Paul Larmer. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  21. ^ "A Proclamation on Bears Ears National Monument". The White House. 2021-10-08. Retrieved 2021-10-21.

External links