Natural Bridges National Monument is our next stop between Canyonlands and Hite / Lake Powell where we will eventually set up camp for the night. Natural Bridges has a great one-way road that takes you to each of the overlooks in the park. The road is a well-maintained (with a couple of spots of light, loose gravel) 9-mile loop; the type of road I’d like to hold a TT-style race on.
Natural Bridges was Utah’s first National Monument, so decreed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.
So, we’ve seen Arches, Canyonlands and all that, what’s the deal with these “bridges?” Aren’t they just arches? Yeah, kinda! But, there’s a difference. Bridges are still arches, but arches aren’t always bridges. They become bridges when a current of water clearly was a major agent in the formation of the opening or currently flows through the opening or it has a flat top—like a man-made bridge would.
So let’s get those cameras out and take some photos! KEVIN! CAMERA!
Sipapu is the largest and most spectacular of the three bridges in the Monument. It is considered middle aged, older than Kachina but younger than Owachomo. Its rounded opening and smooth sides are evidence of countless floods bearing scouring rocks and sand. This bridge, whose opening would almost house the dome of the United States Capitol, has taken thousands of years to form but will someday collapse and erode as part of the endless cycles of time and change.
In Hopi religion, the sipapu is the gateway through which one’s spirit enters and leaves this world.
There is a nice overlook with a horseshoe bend below.
Photo by Michael O’Neill (IG: @stolenmatches)
Horse Collar Ruin
After Sipapu, the next site is Horsecollar Ruin. Here, you can see an ancient Puebloan site.
Named because the doorways to two structures resemble horse collars, the site was abandoned more than 700 years ago. Its remarkable state of preservation, including an undisturbed kiva with the original roof and interior, is likely due to the isolation of Natural Bridges: few visitors ever made the journey down these canyons.
Kachina bridge is the second of the three bridges and the middle in size.
Owachomo bridge, the smallest, thinnest and oldest of all the bridges, almost disappears against the backdrop. We all said it reminded us of the leap of faith that Indiana Jones takes in the Last Crusade.
Goodbye Natural Bridges National Monument!
As Aaron displays above, it will be smiles for miles between Natural Bridges National Monument and Hite / Lake Powell. Utah Route 95 is a fantastic road with incredible sights. All that coming up in the next blog post!