Saturday, July 16, 2016

Utah - Natural Bridges National Monument

Location



Description

My wife and I stumbled across Natural Bridges on our way from the Moki Dugway highway heading back to our hotel in Cortez.  We spent our early afternoon at Valley of the Gods and we were not quite ready to call it a night.  This is a great park for some hiking.


There is a park visitor center where you pay your fee (or show your park pass if you're like us and buy the annual pass).  The building has only water, so there are no cool drinks or food to buy here.  Plan accordingly.

The park itself is not very big and it consists of one road that is a one-way loop.  This makes it easy to get to all the pull-offs in one pass.

Here's the first pull-off with a view of a canyon:


As you can see from these pictures we did some free-lance hiking.  There were a billion footprints around so it appears that everybody goes around the fence for a better view.  The rocks were dry on this day, but it would be unsafe if they were wet.



The next pull-off had an actual bridge, which can be seen in the distance.  Don't let my zoom lens fool you, it's not this close:



This is more like what you will see.  At first, I didn't see the bridge itself because it's camouflaged:



Then we took the trail.  I would recommend hiking all the way down to the bottom.  We had not eaten dinner yet, so we didn't have the energy to go that far.  We did go as far as the cliff that curves around the back side of the bridge.


The trail starts on the smooth rock surface and you have to watch the markings to see if you're going the right way.


Eventually you'll come to a large staircase:


The trail will wind across this entire ridge.  There is a slot that you can see across the way.  That is the trail.


Steps:


Nooooooo!!!  This is a picture of a ladder that I just went down.  It's secured to the rock face with bolts, but it still has the feel of a rickety ladder made of tree branches.  Probably because that's what it is.




These boxes with sand in them are steps:



You can see the trail follows a ridge in the cliff from here.



This is what I like about hiking at the parks.  You don't see this scenery from the road or the lookouts:



Starting to see the back side of the natural bridge:



Here's the end of the ledge trail:




Michelle doesn't want the trail to end:


There is a split-off before you get around the ledge that leads down to the base of the canyon:


On to the next pull-off:


This is another trail that we walked that is an overlook to some cliff-dwellings:


As you can tell, this trail is rather easy.  There are a few up and down hills over rocky terrain, but there are no ladders.


All I could think of was: "This sign was created because it happened":


The lookout points are at the top of the canyon, so the viewpoints are the highest points in the park.  Also, this trail has a metal hand-railing that is mounted to rock.  Not something you want to hold onto during an electrical storm.


No barefoot hiking either:


Here come the railings:


Next up, Kachina Bridge.  We walked back up the trail and drove to the next overlook:


This is a paved path to an overlook of the bridge itself:


There is a trail that goes down to the canyon floor on this bridge too, but we didn't walk that trail either.


Here's the trail head for this trail.  We are totally going back to hike this trail some day:



Next stop is the Owachomo Bridge.  We hiked this trail to the bottom of the canyon.



There is a paved path to the overlook for those with no hiking ambitions:



Here's the beginning of the real trail:


Here's the view from the overlook.  I had to stand and look for a minute before I discovered that it was right in front, but difficult to see since the background is the same pattern as the bridge itself:

    On to the trail:



The view of the bridge is getting better:



This is why we hike to see the sights:



Here's a nice chunk of rock that must have fallen off the cliff:


Probably came from up there:

 



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