Utah – Visit Natural Bridges
During our trip to Utah, I wanted to include a day-long activity. I looked into whitewater rafting (will HAVE to do next time we visit) and longer hikes. The problem with longer hikes in the middle of summer is the amount of gear required and lack of shade. After our hike to Murphy Point at 9 am, we knew an all-day hike would be unbearable in the heat. Instead, we decided to make the drive to Monument Valley. Aiming to get there in the late afternoon, we took a detour to visit Natural Bridges National Monument. Absolutely visit if you are looking for an escape from crowds and do not yet have arch-fatigue.
Before you decide to visit Natural Bridges, take a look at the map to see the location, because it is not close to anything really. It took us about an hour or 1.5 hours to reach Monument Valley after Natural Bridges. But I am super happy we took the detour because it was beautiful, geologically intriguing, and serene without any tour buses or many other people. We were not alone, but there were perhaps only 20 other people in the area with us.
The National Monument is setup in one giant circle. The circle is large enough that I wouldn’t want to go around twice, so be sure to stop at all the major overlooks when you see them. Like Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point State Park, this national monument is located on top of a mesa, with each bridge seen from above.
At a Glance:
- Rating: 3 stars, would do it again, if in the area
- Intensity: Sandals and sundress
- Duration: 45 minutes (plus driving!)
- Cost: $10/vehicle, $5/individual
- Location: Southeast Utah, in Lake Powell county
- Restrooms: at many of the major overlooks
- Quiet and serene
- The scale of the natural bridges are quite incredible
Recommended for your visit:
- Plenty of water and snacks for the car-ride, since it is not super close to anything
Visit Natural Bridges
There are three natural bridges to see with fantastic names: Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu in honor of the Native Americans that once made this area their home. The difference between arches and bridges? Arches stand on the skyline, whereas bridges form at the bottom of canyons. Running water carves these natural bridges. There are hikes at each natural bridge. We had gorgeous (still super hot) weather, but it would have been neat to visit Natural Bridges in the springtime when water is flowing.
We spent about 10 minutes mins at the first two arches and about 20 mins at the last arch. Due to timing, we did not walk down to the bottom of the third arch, which would have been a stunning view.
One neat thing about our detour before Monument Valley was our dive south on HWY 95. On this drive you reach the edge of a giant plateau, which you zigzag down. It is an incredible view, but bit of hair raising experience for Rebecca. Once down, you see the entire face of the plateau. See the pictures below for what I am talking about. This detour also broke up the monotony of driving straight to Monument Valley and back to Moab.
What national monuments have you visited that were much better than you expected?