Explore Natural Bridges National Monument On Your Utah Road Trip

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Natural Bridges National Monument was the one place I kept telling myself I was going to go to last year and I never did.  This year on our way home from camping in Bears Ears we finally decided to stop.  I mean, they are on the same road so we didn’t really have an excuse to not go.  So go, we did.

The first bridge we came to was Sipapu so we decided we might as well hike down to it.  Little did I know (just kidding, I actually knew) it was the steepest hike in the park with an elevation change of 500 feet.  


Only 500, but it feels like a lot more than that on the way up, let me tell you that now.  AND it’s the second largest natural bridge in the US right after Rainbow Bridge on Lake Powell.  

If you happen to be going from Moab to Lake Powell or are taking the scenic way to Capitol Reef, which I would highly recommend, this is the perfect stop to break up the drive.


Back to the hike, the way down was good, nice and not tough.  At the bottom, we wandered around a little in the wash that goes under the bridge (making it a bridge, not an arch) before heading back up.  

We found a dead lizard in the water being eaten by tadpoles.  I saw a cactus with a bright yellow flower, which I never see out here, and get really excited about it.  We found a lens hood thing, too.  I really enjoyed it down there and got so many pictures of the bridge above.  I love those.


Then, unfortunately, it was time to go back up.  It wasn’t the worst hike up ever, but it certainly was tough.  It doesn’t help that I’m not in the best shape I could be.  I had to stop more than I would have like and it didn’t help that it was like, a thousand degrees, blazing sun, with no wind.

But, I did make it up, and it was glorious getting back to the parking lot and climbing into the 2000 degree car.  We continued on to the next bridge, the Kachina bridge.  This one was harder to spot and looked more like am amphitheater type thing.  We skipped the hike down to this one and kept going.


The final bridge was Owachomo.  This one is pretty thin at only 9 feet thick at the middle of the bridge.  This one has the most possibility to collapse, but it’s hard to say when.  

It’s really cool to see things like this, these huge bridges and arches that can stretch hundreds of feet across and hundreds of feet high.  Obviously, some are cooler than others, but I think they’re all pretty impressive.  

Overall, I liked the park and am definitely glad I went, but I’m not dying to go back.  I thinks it’s an awesome place to stop between other parks and to see some pretty cool bridges.


National Park Goodies


Where is Natural Bridges National Monument?

Natural Bridges National Monument is on Cedar Mesa along Highway 95. Its right by Bears Ears and not far from the turn to Halls Crossing or the Moki Dugway. It’s about 40 minutes from Blanding, one hour and forty minutes from Monument Valley.


How long is the hike to Sipapu Bridge?

The Sipapu Bridge hike is just 1.2 miles round-trip but it has 360 feet of elevation gain. You hike down on the way there and then back up all 360 on the way out. So it’s not long but it’s a good amount of elevation for just over half a mile one way.


Hikes in Natural Bridges National Monument

Sipapu Bridge (1.2 miles), Kachina Bridge (1.3 miles), and Owachomo Bridge (0.7) are the three main trails but you can make a loop out of two or all three of them if you’re up for a longer hike.

The Sipapu to Kachina loop is 5.8 miles and the loop to all three is almost nine miles round-trip. There are a couple non-bridge trails, too that I just learned about!

The first is the 0.6 mile Horse Collar Ruin trail and the other is Collins Spring to the Narrows which is 3.9 miles. There are also short (less than 0.5 miles) walks to bridge overlooks.


Is the Sipapu Bridge trail worth it?

Yes! This was the only longer hike we did here but it was really cool to hike down under the bridge. I’m glad we chose this one and while it was a lot of work hiking back out (ok, not that much) it was definitely worth it. I liked it a lot.


Is visiting Natural Bridges worth it?

Yes! Even though it’s not my number one park, it’s still really cool to see and it’s pretty small so you don’t need tons of time there, maybe half a day as you pass through.


Other things to do near Natural Bridges

There are SO many hikes near Natural Bridges, you could stay busy for years. II absolutely love the whole Cedar Mesa area, it’s incredible. This is a great area if you like rock art and ruins.

Some things you could do near Natural Bridges are hike to House on Fire, see the Halls Crossing Ruins, visit Edge of the Cedars in Blanding, see Five Kiva Pueblo, or hike to Butler Wash Ruins.

Driving down the Moki Dugway with a stop at Muley Overlook on the way down to Valley of the Gods and Goosenecks State Park is a great choice, too.


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Have you been to Natural Bridges?  What did you think of it?  What’s the coolest arch or bridge you’ve seen?

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