Know why bridges are different than arches? Bridges are carved by running water – streams beneath their expanse that erodes the rock into a “bridge” spanning the distance across, which grows wider as the stream cuts lower into the canyon bottom. Arches are formed by erosion with softer rock around harder rock. I didn’t know that until we visited Natural Bridges National Monument. Lots of folks either skip this park or simply drive the 9 mile rim loop, stopping at viewpoints above (where btw, there’s not much to see…), leaving without enjoying the true natural beauty of this place.
As you may know, “Utah unplugged “means I haven’t had a chance to do any regular updates to TrailerTraveler.net. This is totally out of order, but I can’t resist showing some photos of our Natural Bridges National Monument hike two days ago. The Sipapu Loop involves descending into the canyon at the first natural bridge, then hiking the canyon floor to Kachina, ascending, then walking the mesa trail back to the car – a distance of just short of 6 miles. The loop actually continues to Owachomo bridge, but then it’s almost 9 miles and we had a second hike to do after Natural Bridges… Photos? Of course!
Why don’t more people enjoy the loop hike? Maybe they’re scared off by the ladders and stairs involved to reach the canyon floor? Taking our time, it was no problem … going up might have been a bit more rigorous ….
The view from the top isn’t nearly as nice as the view from below … you can barely make out Sipapu in this viewpoint photo from the road. Another reason to brave the loop hike!
The canyon loop hike has more than just the bridges! Even the canyon bottom is pretty, especially since this is the first canyon we’ve been in since Zion that actually has WATER!
Then the middle bridge, immense Kachina. It’s also the youngest .. in geologic time, not human time!
And lots of wildflowers thanks to the water in the canyon, I’m sure.
Part of the way out of the canyon. After the climb, we still had 2 miles across the mesa to hike back to rendezvous with our 4 Runner. But the mesa top was interesting too, just not as interesting as the canyon and bridges.
After reaching the car, we drove to the final bridge, Owachomo, the oldest and least stable. Don’t mind that crack in the middle! Say WHAT? 🙂
So is the crack fatal? Or will Owachomo stand for several more centuries. There’s no way to know. That’s one reason I’m glad we could do this hike now … so we get to see three bridges and not just two. On to hike to the Ancient Anasazi ruins in another canyon – over 1000 years old, that’s OLD!
Anyone been to Natural Bridges? Did I miss anything? Please leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan