See arches, spectacular scenery at Natural Bridges National Monument

Getting to Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, takes a little more time and trouble than some weekend jaunts, but the rewards are also a little bigger. You’ll not only see three of the nation’s most impressive natural bridges, but on the way there, you will see some more of the Southwest’s most spectacular scenery.

Located near the Four Corners Monument where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico come together, the monument was established to protect the bridges. Although easily confused with arches, natural bridges are much rarer. They are formed in deep canyons and always by water cutting through the stone over the years. Arches are primarily created by gradual erosion.

Summer is a good time to visit, as the elevation in the park is about 6,500 feet, making its temperatures a pleasant contrast to the three-digit days expected in Southern Nevada. The park is on Cedar Mesa, and the highlight is driving and checking out the viewpoints along the 9-mile scenic loop from the visitor center.

All the bridge names evoke Native American words or concepts. Kachina Bridge was named for rock art designs that were found on the formation; the designs resemble those used in Kachina dolls. Owachomo Bridge is named for a feature on the bridge’s east side; “owachomo” means “rock mound.” The Sipapu Bridge is named for a spot where the Hopi believe their ancestors entered this world. “Sipapu” means “Place of Emergence.”

Leaving the visitor center on the scenic loop drive, the Sipapu Bridge will be the first one you reach. This bridge is at least the second-largest natural bridge in the world. It spans 268 feet and is 220 feet tall. (It is thought that the Rainbow Bridge at Lake Powell is a few feet larger, depending on who is measuring and how.)

The Kachina Bridge overlook will be the next stop. The walkway to the overlook is steep, and people using wheelchairs or other assistance devices will need help in getting to it. This bridge spans 204 feet and is 210 feet high.

Owachomo Bridge will be your final stop. This is probably the most stunning bridge, yet it is situated at such an angle that unless the sun is perfectly aligned under it, it is hard to see its virtues. This bridge is 106 feet high and spans about 180 feet.

The night skies at the monument are some of the best in the country for contemplating the universe because their beauty is uncompromised by light from any nearby town. The Dark-Sky Association designated Natural Bridges as the world’s first International Dark Sky Park. That is a special distinction and worth traveling to the place just for that reason. It would be a fine place to spend those darkest hours before the dawn on Aug. 11-13, when the Perseid Meteor Shower is expected to peak. This year’s shower is supposed to be especially easy to view because there will be only a crescent moon to compete, and it won’t rise until about dawn anyway.

There are no services in the park, but Blanding, Utah, has full services and is about 35 miles east. There are a picnic area and a campground in the park. The latter offers 13 sites, all with tent pads, grills, tables and a campground restroom. Call 435-692-1234 or visit nps.gov/nabr.

Directions

From Las Vegas, take U.S. Highway 93 south 105 miles to Kingman, Ariz. Go east on Interstate 40 for 150 miles to Flagstaff. Take Arizona 89 north for about 63 miles and turn right onto U.S. Highway 163. Follow U.S. 163 for about 100 miles to Mexican Hat, Utah. Continue through Mexican Hat a few miles and go left on Utah 261. Drive about 33 miles north to Utah 95 and go left. Drive 2 miles and go right on Utah 275 to park entrance.

Deborah Wall is the author of “Great Hikes, A Cerca Country Guide” and “Base Camp Las Vegas: Hiking the Southwestern States,” published by Stephens Press. She can be reached at deborabus@aol.com.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
Life
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like