Natural Bridges National Monument

Published: June 14th 2018
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Okay, so we are actually home from our month in Utah and Colorado. It is so nice to have a good Wi-Fi connection and lots of electricity to charge computers etc. Now, to complete the blogs I should have been able to do on the road.

Next up on our agenda was Natural Bridges National Monument. We discovered that the difference between a National Park and a National Monument is that only the U.S. Congress can set up a National Park but the President can establish a national Monument on his own.

Anasazi State Park

Before we got to Natural Bridges we ran into Anasazi State Park in Boulder, Utah. In this area of Utah there were many groups of village dwelling farmers up to the end of the 12th century. The museum discussed their life style with replicas of their buildings.

Natural Bridges Park and Campground

The trip to Natural Bridges is a bit longer than our last move and the campground is pretty small. When we got there, there was no room in the inn. Bummer.


The park rangers are pretty familiar with this situation and had a preprinted form showing
Anasazi MuseumAnasazi MuseumAnasazi Museum

This is the view from inside the underground dwelling.
alternative camping locations near the park. The Bureau of Land Management manages the area surrounding the park and, usually, the BLM camp sites are a reasonable alternative to the park sites. They usually have outhouses which are acceptable as the sites are also usually free. Unfortunately, the areas around Natural Bridges didn’t and were pretty sandy. This means when the wind comes up (and it always does) the dust can be a problem, especially for contact wearers.

There was one site that was quite nice but, again, no outhouses. This is not a problem for RVers and there were quite a few in the nice site we looked at. We pressed on to Blanding. We hadn’t planned to spend any time there but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We pulled into the first commercial campground we came to and Dianne said “We’re staying here regardless of what it costs”. Turned out to be less than the National Monument campground and was quite nice. Spotty Wi-Fi but free showers and nice laundry. We booked in for one night but upped it to two even before we set up camp.

Back to Natural Bridges

From aboveFrom aboveFrom above

What I found interesting is that we saw the same type of housing in a museum when we lived in Kamloops.
next day we headed back to Natural Bridges to look at… the Natural Bridges! There are three main bridges in the park. You can take short trails to the overlooks or longer trails down into the canyons to look up at the bridges. We chose two overlooks and one trail down to the canyon floor. I think we made the right choice. The pictures say it way better than I can.

Dianne had planned a picnic lunch and we set up in the shade behind the visitor centre. There were three or four tables but no one was there. By the time we got our wraps put together, the tables were full. We were joined at our very large table by a group of about 8 people. They were a small “tour” group from New Mexico. They had a guide/driver who we think was with his wife and the rest were women in their 80s who travelled all over the place (including Vancouver Island) in a 15 passenger van with this ”younger” couple. It was pretty interesting to listen to them talk about their experiences.

Butler Wash

We had passed the sign to Butler Wash Indian Ruins
Elevation gain?Elevation gain?Elevation gain?

We did find ourselves short of breath on occasion. This could explain why. The combination of elevation and dryness didn't do our sinuses any favour.
on our way to Blanding but after chatting with the rangers at the Visitor Centre decided to pay them a visit. The hike from the parking lot to the ruins wasn’t that long but it was over some interesting terrain. Much of the trail was over rock which doesn’t indicate the trail very well. This was our first experience with the use of cairns to mark the trail. Sometimes it was small piles of rock, other times it was rocks laid out in rows to show you where to go. We became very familiar with this technique in the coming days.

The ruins were fascinating. There are many overhangs in the canyons in Utah and the Puebloans made excellent use of these for shade as well as protection from the torrential rains (when they did get them). These were some of the best examples of Indian ruins.

Edge of the Cedars State Park

If we hadn’t had to camp in Blanding we never would have found this state park which is actually inside the city. A very nice museum with a bunch of ruins outside that you can tour after the museum closed. Well worth the visit.
Between Natural Bridges and BlandingBetween Natural Bridges and BlandingBetween Natural Bridges and Blanding

As we drove we were quite taken by the rock structures.

Off to Mesa Verde

After our two night stay in Blanding we headed to Colorado. We had rearranged our schedule because we didn’t want to be looking for a first-come, first served campsite on the American Memorial Day weekend. This change would put us at the National Park early on Thursday. The saga of our finding campsites is ToBeContinued.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 25


Muffin topMuffin top
Muffin top

A variation in colour and style!

Everywhere we saw different vistas.
Lonely roadLonely road
Lonely road

Notice the "heavy" traffic along these scenic roads!

On our way to Blanding we had to go up a long hill where the road curved through this huge notch someone cut into the hill.
Bridge over quiet watersBridge over quiet waters
Bridge over quiet waters

We finally got to the Colorado River. It was pretty big here but also pretty quiet. Nothing like the canyons further downstream.
We saw a lot of this sort of thingWe saw a lot of this sort of thing
We saw a lot of this sort of thing

Many miles of twisting, winding roads; up and down; back and forth
Rugged sceneryRugged scenery
Rugged scenery

Mile after mile of unbelievable ruggedness.
Home on the Range.Home on the Range.
Home on the Range.

We saw these signs all over Utah but never an animal in sight. I commented to Dianne that I would really like to see at least one. About 5 minutes later....
Be careful what you ask for.Be careful what you ask for.
Be careful what you ask for.

Almost as soon as I made a comment about not seeing cattle, we found some. Luckily we had lots of warning.
Sipapu bridgeSipapu bridge
Sipapu bridge

We chose to see this from the viewpoint as the hike down to the bridge included several ladders and very rough terrain.
More ruinsMore ruins
More ruins

built under an overhang but near the mesas where they did their farming.
Kachina bridgeKachina bridge
Kachina bridge

Another challenging hike to get to the bridge so we enjoyed it from the viewpoint!
Owachomo bridgeOwachomo bridge
Owachomo bridge

We were glad we had chosen to walk down into the canyon to view this one. It was spectacular. We sat under it and enjoyed a snack.
Mini ArchMini Arch
Mini Arch

Rarely seen mini-arch with local wildlife for perspective!

Dianne says this is a holiday trail, not trial.
Maintenance needed?Maintenance needed?
Maintenance needed?

This fence seems to be in need of a bit of repair.

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