Nestled in south eastern Utah, Natural Bridges National Monument holds three ancient and wondrous natural bridges. Kachina, Owachomo and Sipapu were created by destructive winds, rains and freezing temperatures in the area. The original residents of the area left around 1270 and early Europeans discovered it in 1883. Shortly after in 1908 it became Utah's first national monument.
The natural bridges are on their third round of names.
- President, Senator and Congressman
- Augusta, Caroline and Edwin
- (current) Hopi names: Sipapu, Kachina, and Owachomo
Hiking Through the Ancient Natural Bridges
If you are exploring Monument Valley, then venturing to Natural Bridges National Monument is a must. It is a beautiful day trip to experience history.
Start your exploring at the visitor's center. There is a small fee to enter the national monument unless you have one of the national park passes. The visitor center offers a lot of great information, maps and restrooms before you start the day.
Sipapu Natural Bridge is your first bridge. Sipapu means "place of emergence" and the name is very fitting. This natural bridge is the second largest in the world and once you get to the bottom to view the entire bridge, it is pretty amazing. There is absolutely no climbing and do not deface the rock.
There are a couple ladders and steps to make your way down. Enjoy the little adventure this hike provides.
Kachina Natural Bridge is your next bridge. The youngest of the three bridges determined by its thickness, it was my favorite. It is still this thick after 4,000 tons of rock feel back in the early 90s. If you get to this rock you notice there is a small amount of vandalism. Don't be a jerk, no one cares about your initials or what your name is, especially the rock. If you really want people to know, carve it on yourself. Quit defacing nature and history.
The third and final bridge is Owachomo Natural Bridge. Owachomo means "rock mount" in Hopi. The bridge got the name from the rock formation on the top of the bridge. Take some time to really look around an explore.
The road to get from Monument Valley to Natural Bridges National Monument is pretty spectacular! It's famous and is named Moki Dugway. It's a 10% grade, lose gravel road with steep drop offs. It is considered one of Utah's most dangerous roads. There are multiple warnings to not drive anything over 10,000 lbs. So find someone with a capable vehicle and make your way up.
There is also tons of free camping in the area of Valley of the Gods/Monument Valley/Mexican Hat. Take your pick.