Natural Bridges
Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument is located about 45 minutes from Blanding, Utah. The monument is best known for its three natural bridges, Kachina, Owachomo, and the largest, Sipapu, which is also the second largest natural bridge in the world. The bridge names come from the Hopi tribe, which once dominated the region. Sipapu, for example, is the Hopi word for the gateway which souls pass through to the spirit world, and Kachina is named for traditional Hopi spirit dancers. Owachomo Bridge is defined by a rock formation at one end, and aptly named with the Hopi word for 'rock mound.'

Natural Bridges National Monument is located on a tree-covered mesa surrounded by white canyons. A great way to explore the monument is by driving the nine-mile scenic loop which leads to overlooks for all three bridges. A short walking trail at each scenic stop leads to the viewing points.

To get the most from any visit to Natural Bridges National Monument, moderate trails (all under 1.5 miles roundtrip) lead to the base of each bridge. Owachomo Trail is the shortest, about a half-mile roundtrip with some rocky steps. The trail to Sipapu Bridge is steep and rocky but there are stairs and wooden ladders to aid hikers. There is a ledge about halfway down the trail that offers an excellent view of Sipapu. Kachina is the “youngest” bridge with a relatively small opening compared to Sipapu and Owachomo. In 1992, about 4,000 tons of rock fell from Kachina, as evidenced by a huge pile of boulders near the bridge’s base.

Other trails in Natural Bridges National Monument are the Loop Trail, which passes all three bridges, and Horsecollar Ruin Overlook Trail, a fairly level trail that crosses the mesa to the edge of White Canyon. The overlook features a view of an ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling.


Dark Sky Program

Owachomo Home to some of the darkest skies in the country, in 2007 Natural Bridges became the world's first 'International Dark Sky Park' certified by the International Dark Sky Association. Natural Bridges has made protecting its dark sky a priority so that in some areas, it's possible to see up to 15,000 stars throughout the night. In contrast, fewer than 500 stars may be visible from more urban environments.
Astronomy programs are held at dusk in front of the visitor center Wednesday & Thursday nights, May- October. Visitors are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket to sit on. Please contact the park before your visit to verify times and dates.

 

A natural bridge is formed primarily by water erosion. Water shapes the streambeds at the base of the canyons, eventually eroding enough of the canyon walls so that it flows beneath it to create a natural bridge. Evidence shows that at least two more natural bridges once existed here. The bridges in Natural Bridges National Monument are carved from Cedar Mesa white sandstone, remnants of ancient sand dunes from the Permian period, around 250 million years ago. Nearby White Canyon also gets its name from the white Cedar Mesa sandstone.

Natural Bridges National Monument’s elevation ranges from 5,500 feet to 6,500 feet. Flora throughout much of the park is typical of the high-desert vegetation found throughout much of southern Utah, although willow and cottonwood trees flourish near the streams along the canyon floor. Off-road vehicles are heavily restricted within the monument boundaries, allowing much of the native vegetation and cryptobiotic soils to thrive.

Natural Bridges National Monument services include a visitor center with ranger-guided walks and interpretive programs. A 13-site campground is available on a first-come basis. The monument is open daily year-round. The visitor center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Mexican Hat, Bluff, Blanding, and Monticello offer convenient access to the monument, as well as gas, food, and lodging. Head north on Highway 261 to Highway 95 from Mexican Hat. Head north on US Highway 191 from Bluff, or head south on US Highway 191 to reach the monument from Monticello or Blanding. Stay on Highway 95 for about 30 miles and turn right onto Highway 275. The entrance to Natural Bridges National Monument is at the end of Highway 275.

Natural Bridges: http://www.nps.gov/nabr/index.htm

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July, 2016

Apr 16, 2016 - Oct 01, 2016
Dark Sky Program at Hovenweep National Monument
Jul 30, 2016
Stars & S'mores
Jul 30, 2016 - Jul 31, 2016
Amateur Golf Tournament

August, 2016

Apr 16, 2016 - Oct 01, 2016
Dark Sky Program at Hovenweep National Monument
Aug 04, 2016
Children's Hip Hop artist Mr. Kneel
Aug 05, 2016 - Aug 06, 2016
Abajo Enduro
Aug 05, 2016 - Aug 13, 2016
San Juan County Fair
Aug 05, 2016
Monticello Outdoor Movies at the Park- Happy Feet
Aug 11, 2016
Keith Anderson Concert at the San Juan County Fair
Aug 13, 2016
Stars & S'mores
Aug 19, 2016
Monticello Outdoor Movies at the Park- Cheaper By the Dozen
Aug 20, 2016
Canyon Country Discovery Center Grand Opening Celebration
Aug 26, 2016
Stars & S'mores
Aug 27, 2016
Lecture: Re-Excavating Ancient Textiles- Laurie Webster

September, 2016

Apr 16, 2016 - Oct 01, 2016
Dark Sky Program at Hovenweep National Monument
Sep 03, 2016
Stars & S'mores
Sep 05, 2016 - Sep 11, 2016
Lessons From the River with Rabbi Shefa Gold
Sep 09, 2016
Monticello Outdoor Movies at the Park- Muppets Take Manhattan
Sep 10, 2016
Indian Summer Festival
Sep 10, 2016
4th Annual Blue Mountain Chase
Sep 10, 2016
Stars & S'mores
Sep 14, 2016 - Sep 18, 2016
Utah Navajo Fair
Sep 15, 2016 - Sep 17, 2016
San Juan ATV Safari
Sep 17, 2016
Lecture: Chaco Canyon and the Rise of Complexity in the Middle & Northern San Juan Regions
Sep 18, 2016 - Sep 24, 2016
Archaeological Survey & Mapping in Southeast Utah
Sep 23, 2016
Monticello Outdoor Movies at the Park- Romancing the Stone

October, 2016

Apr 16, 2016 - Oct 01, 2016
Dark Sky Program at Hovenweep National Monument
Oct 02, 2016 - Oct 08, 2016
Hiking and Archaeology Adventure on Lake Powell
Oct 06, 2016 - Oct 09, 2016
Cedar Mesa/Comb Ridge Utah Archaeology with Canyonlands Field Institute
Oct 22, 2016
Lecture: The Lens of History: Documenting Impacts to Archaeological Sites on Cedar Mesa

November, 2016

Nov 18, 2016 - Nov 20, 2016
Monument Valley Balloon Event