Stand Beneath Utah’s Natural Bridges

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Exploring Trails at Natural bridges

Exploring Teddy's Bridges

The road to Natural Bridges National Monument from the east is long and twisting.  If you are exploring this area in the twilight hours, you are in for a rare treat.  The light is nothing short of magical.  It touches the rocks of Utah's land, unleashing color and beauty.

Utah's first monument has three natural bridges.  They are named Sipapu, Kachina, and Owachomo (the Hopi word for "rock mound").  They are something to behold, immense and imposing.  The rock itself is sandstone.   Over eons, running water shaped these bridges.

Colors of orange, black, and red appear to drip down these canyon bridges.  This desert varnish adds to the mystical appearance of these ancient formations.  In fact, the Hopi word Sipapu means "path of emergence" and refers to a gateway between worlds.

You can easily view the monuments from the convenience of your car.  As always though, you are barely scratching the surface if you stay in your comfort zone.  To really see these dramatic icons of the west, you must go exploring.  Get out of your vehicle and walk.

Each bridge is unique from the other.  Sipapu is the largest.  Kachina is in the middle.  Owachomo is smaller and thinner.  The loop trail connects the three.

Our Experience

It was mid-afternoon as we set out west toward Natural Bridges National Monument.  The trip was an afterthought.  We had passed a sign on the road and decided to come this way.

The loop around the park is neat and tidy, providing ample space to pull in and visit each bridge.  This is all well and good, but we wanted more.  So we decided to hike down to Sipapu.

Sipapu Bridge

Straight out of the gate, this hike is fun.  It is technical with ladders, chain, and narrow stairs.  Immediately our view of Sipapu is more intimate.  We start to see it from different angles.  Every time we stop walking and take a glance, it looks a little altered and fresh.

At the foot of a stairway, we come to a ledge.  Hopi ruins are tucked underneath it.  They are round and crumbling, a relic of the civilization that once dwelled in this very place.  They are not much to look at, and we can not help but wonder what it used to look like when it was first constructed.  Moreover, what did they do here?  What did they think of this beautiful place?

After descending multiple ladders over smooth, slippery rocks, we come to the bottom.  We are beneath the bridge now.  Unable to fit the whole thing in the frame of our camera.  We decided to get innovative, taking a vertical and arching panoramic photo.  At the top, it is easy to take them the bridge for granted.  But if you do the work, you appreciate the scale of this monument.

At the top, it is easy to take the bridge for granted.  But after doing the work, we were able to appreciate the scale of this natural work of art in a way impossible from the road.

We leave this wonder and travel to Capitol Reef National Park for some more hiking click here.

Hiker Tips:

For great road trip ideas, click here.

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