DescriptionNatural Bridges National Monument, 42 miles west of Blanding via SR 95, covers 7,780 acres. Along the winding corridors of White and Armstrong canyons, water has eroded the stone walls over time to form three massive natural bridges. They remained known only to the Anasazi and other Native American tribes until 1883, when a gold prospector at a remote mining camp on the Colorado River discovered the region.
The name of each bridge was derived from a Hopi Indian term that described its characteristics. The Sipapu Bridge, the longest and highest, is 268 feet long, 31 feet wide, 53 feet thick and 220 feet high. The second largest natural bridge in the world, Sipapu represents a mature stage in the evolution of natural bridge formation.
Kachina Bridge, 2.5 miles away at the junction of Armstrong and White canyons, straddles a stream bed at a height of 210 feet. The most massive of the three, Kachina is 204 feet long, 44 feet wide and 93 feet thick. Owachomo Bridge, the smallest and oldest, is a narrow strip of rock only 9 feet thick in the center and 27 feet wide. Spanning 180 feet, Owachomo is in a late stage of erosion and is heading toward the day when weather and gravity will bring it crashing to the canyon floor.
All three bridges are accessible by short hikes off Bridge View Drive, a scenic, 9-mile (one way) loop drive that begins and ends near the monument visitor center. A trail leads down to each bridge, and an 8.6-mile (round trip) trail connects the bridges. Horse Collar Ruin, an ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling, is visible from the Bridge View Drive overlook. Pets and bicycles are not permitted on trails or off-road areas. Hiking on the bridges is not permitted.
Camping is available, but there is a 26-foot limit for RVs and any vehicles pulling them and the closest gas stations are in Mexican Hat, 44 miles south, and Blanding, 38 miles east.
Visitors can view a slide show at the monument headquarters visitor center, which also has exhibits about the area's history and geology. The monument is open all year (weather permitting); the best time to visit is late April to late October. The visitor center is open daily 8-6, mid-May to mid-Sept.; 8-5, mid-Apr. to mid-May; 9-5, mid-Sept. through Nov. 30; 9-4:30, rest of year. Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission (good for 7 consecutive calendar days from the date of purchase) is $10 (per private vehicle); $5 (per person arriving by other means). Annual local pass (also includes entry to Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Hovenweep National Monument in Colorado) $50. The monument camping fee is $10.
For additional information contact the Superintendent, Natural Bridges National Monument, HC-60, Box 1, Lake Powell, UT 84533; phone (435) 692-1234.
GEM DescriptionThree massive 511345l bridges, formed over time by erosion caused by the flow of water, are the focal points of this national monument.