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    A summary of what Natural Bridges NM has to offer.

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Natural Bridges National Monument - Orientation

Getting Around, Basic Info,...

While Natural Bridges National Monument is a fairly small park, it's packed with awesome things to see and do. Take a minute to look through the tabs below to gather a better orientation of the park and its offerings.

Overview

Natural Bridges National Monument is a relatively small park. A 9 mile paved road runs along the mesa above the bridges. There are numerous lookouts over the canyons with views of the bridges. Views for some of the bridges requires a short walk. There is also a nice overlook of some well-preserved cliff dwellings high on a canyon wall. Binoculars are helpful. Trails lead down to the base of each of the bridges. If you have time, such a hike is greatly encouraged to give you a better sense of these remarkable structures. Information on these trails can be found in Natural Bridges Hiking.

The Scenic Drive

A 9 mile paved loop road runs along the mesa above the bridges.You should plan on stopping for a view of each bridge and the Indian cliff dwellings, for which binoculars are useful. You should also try to make time to hike down to at least one bridge to gain a much better appreciation for the beauty of these structures.

The Bridges

The three bridges represent three different stages in the life of a natural bridge.

Sipapu is a middle aged bridge, with a smooth, strong span. With a height of 220 feet and span of 268 feet, it is the largest of the three and the 2nd largest natural bridge in the world. Only Rainbow Bridge at Lake Powell is larger.

Kachina is a young bridge, with a thick chunky look. It measures 210 feet by 204 feet.

Owachomo is an older graceful bridge, time having reduced its span to a precariously thin 9 foot thick ribbon. In geological time, it hasn't long to live. At 106 by 180 feet, it is the smallest of the three.

Hiking Trails

There is a separate trail down to each bridge. The steep Sipapu Bridge Trail (1.2 miles round-trip) descends 600 feet to the base of Sipapu Bridge.The equally steep Kachina Bridge Trail (1-1/2 mile round-trip) drops 650 feet to the Kachina Bridge. The Owachomo Bridge Trail is an easy (.5 mile) walk. Elevation change is less than 200 feet.

The Natural Bridges Loop Trail also runs along the canyon bottoms between the bridges. Most hikers hike down the Sipapu Bridge Trail and come up the Owachomo Bridge Trail, since the grade up from Owachomo Bridge is considerably easier than the others. The round-trip distance of 8.2 miles includes a 2-1/2 mile trail through woodland along the top of the canyon back to the Sipapu Bridge trailhead. (It can be eliminated by using a car shuttle.) Many hikers omit the Owachomo Bridge segment and climb up the Kachina Bridge Trail. This shortens the loop to 5.4 miles, which includes a 2 mile hike on the mesa top.

Other Information

The park is opened year round, but the most pleasant time to visit is from late April through October. It's hot in the summer, but not oppressive. In winter, snow sometimes temporarily blocks access, but the park remains open.

The modern visitor center is opened daily from 8-5 from Mar-May and in Oct; 8-6 from Jun-Sep; and 9-4:30 in winter. The gates to the scenic drive stay open from dawn to dusk. An entrance fee of $6 per vehicle is charged, unless you have a National Park Pass.

For more information, contact: Superintendent, Natural Bridges National Monument, Box 1, Lake Powell, UT 84533; 435-692-1234.

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