Destinations

Discover Natural Bridges Monument

November 21, 2014 by

Sipapu Bridge

Sipapu Bridge

 

The Natural Bridges National Monument, in southeast Utah, offers an interesting destination for nature photographers and outdoor enthusiasts. (However commercial photographers must get a special permit).

It features stunning vistas including three stream-carved natural bridges as well as an interesting concentration of Anasazi Indian ruins. Visitors can view the multi-colored bridges from overlooks found along a 8.6-milepaved loop road that runs through the monument or they can hike along one of the many trails for an up-close experience.

Three Natural Bridges

The three natural bridges have Hopi Indian names:

Owachomo: means “rock mound”

Owachomo is the smallest and thinnest of the three natural bridges located here. It is commonly believed to be the oldest of the three. However, no one knows for sure because the bridges have eroded at different rates.

Regardless of its age, visitors can be certain it is the most fragile and elegant of the three.

Kachina Bridge

Kachina Bridge

Sipapu: means “the place of emergence”

Sipapu has the distinction of being the largest and most spectacular of the three bridges in the Monument. It fact it is the second largest natural bridge in the world.

Among the three, it is thought to be older than Kachina and younger than Owachomo. It features a smooth rounded opening and sides caused by scouring effect of countless floods over thousands of years.

Kachina: means “dancer”

Kachina is “the middle bridge.” It spans the canyon and is equidistant from the Owachomo and Sipapu bridges.

A short trail slopes from the parking area along the rim drive to the foundation of Kachina bridge. The trail offers handrails and features uneven stone steps, switchbacks, and steep sections of slickrock.

Horsecollar Ruins

Horsecollar Ruins

Ancient Ruins

The Anasazi Indians once lived in this part of Utah somewhere between 2,000 to 650 years ago and they left behind cliff dwellings and pictographs. From here trails lead to each bridge and to important archaeological sites.

For those who don’t want to walk the trails, these sites can be viewed from the overlooks. However the moderate hiking trails provide closer access to each bridge, and both the overlooks and short trails delight kids as well as adults. The easiest trail is the one to Owachomo.

Dark Sky Park

Natural Bridges is also known for its dark skies. In fact they have one of the darkest night skies in the US, with almost no light pollution. So if you’re looking for a destination that lets you really get away from it all this is it. Camping is first come first serve.

Visit their website to learn more and to find other lodging options and what tours available.

Photo credits: nps.gov, nps.gov, nps.gov



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1 comment

  1. Ruby T. says:

    So amazing that we can visit these beautiful places not far from home.


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