Found our way to Devil’s Canyon National Forest Camping area, which served as our base camp for the next few days. While at the camping area we set out a hummingbird feeder and hummingbird wars soon ensued.
The next day (June 2th) we set out for the Natural Bridges National Monument, electing to traverse a dirt road access from Blanding, rather than using Route 95. It was a fun, windy dirt road that took us through National Forest areas. Great views, great environment, great choice!!
Once we checked out the Visitor’s Center, we took the Bridge View Drive around the park, a paved 9-mile road that provides overlook views of all three bridges (Sipapu, Kachina and Owachomo). These incredible natural bridges formed from the erosive effects of moving water on the sandstone, and each one is in a different stage of its “life”. We quickly decided to take the hike down to the canyon floor at the first bridge we came to – Sipapu Bridge. It was a 1.2 mile hike with an elevation change of 500 feet, making it the steepest trail in the park. The trail included sections of stairs, smooth rock passages, sandy trails and three wooden ladders. It was a warm day and a pretty good work-out. Along the way there were plenty of opportunities to make forays to the edge of the steep canyon walls…
Once on the canyon floor we were rewarded with awesome views of the bridge arching overhead. Sipapu Bridge is the second largest natural bridge in the world (only Rainbow Bridge at Glen Canyon is bigger).
There were other amazing sights on the canyon floor as well, including this tree, which amassed an amazing amount of downriver flotsam. It was an eerie reminder of how high the water in this canyon can rise during a downpour.
After we made our ascent back to the rim, we continued the drive to the other bridge overlooks. This is a place where you can spend a few hours or a few days of exploration. There are three individual hikes to each of the three bridges, plus longer loop hikes, which connect several of the bridges in one continuous loop, which could take the better part of a day. Pretty cool.