Natural Bridges National Monument and Navajo Desert

Our tank was more than half full and we usually don’t mind about diesel in such a situation. The next gas station was 40 miles away we were glad to take it. GPS said the following was about 200 miles away. This tells us how spectacular the next miles have been. Everywhere was desert, of course different kinds, but one day you get fed up with it. Only the overlook at Glen Canyon, the beginning of Lake Powell, was gorgeous.

Then we arrived at the cedar forests of the Natural Bridges National Monument. We got a park map at the Visitor Center and took a site at the near campground. The weather changed every half an hour and it was late afternoon. So we decided to do a hike next morning. It was pretty hot and the 8.6 miles (14 km) round trip to the three bridges takes at least 3 ½ hours.

We got up early, had a little breakfast and went to the parking lot of the Owachomo Bridge. At 9:15 am we started hiking north to the Sipapu Bridge. At steep passages with hand rails and wood leathers you climb down to the bottom of the Canyon. From the cliffs you have an awesome view at this natural bridge, which spans 268 feet and is 220 feet high. Very impressing what nature is able to create!

Then you follow a (nearly) dry washed out canyon that curves through rounded cliffs. The vegetation is completely different at bottom than on top. Parts of the path were flooded two days before and sometimes we had to search for the right way. It was a pity that too many trees denied us a good look at the Kachina Bridge (Span 204 and height 210 ft). On the following way we saw old petroglyphs from the Indian Americans living there nowadays, eagles and a bat flying around at the brightest day. Many holes in the cliffs created good homes for them.

Close to midday it got terrible hot and humid in the canyon. A long time the shade of the cliffs saved us, but then the sun rose higher. The surrounding dark cliffs absorbed the heat and pushed it into the canyon. The up and downs, also some sandy parts of the trail, made it more strenuous than expected. Bad prepared! After more than four hours we arrived at the third bridge, the Owachomo Bridge (Span 180 ft and height 106 ft). It took some time in the shade and a little break to be able to enjoy it really. Great monument!

At 1:45 pm we were back at our campground. Everybody was tired and nobody wanted to drive further 100 miles or more. We stayed suffering the heat and tried to relax. At evening we made a campfire and Peppi enjoyed the whole night looking stars on deck of the van. The cedar forest is only about three meters high, perfect up there for a great view all around. The next town is about 45 miles away and then a long distance only desert. No light pollution! Incredible how many stars are out there!

Blended by the light of the sunrise you have to get up at 7:00 am. Two coffee and cornflakes made us ready to go. Last day we missed to see the Horse Collar Ruin, some old fragments of Indian Americans living in the canyon long time ago. You just can see them from an overlook at the other side of the canyon hundred meters away. Hardly to say “Wow, interesting!” from that distance!

We went south at Highway 261 on the Moki Dugway to Mexican Hat. One unpaved three mile section which gets down hundreds of meters elevation to the flat lands of the Navajo Desert is outstanding scenic. You can see hundreds of miles far.

Mexican Hat was unexpected just a little village and the last signal for phone was nearly a week ago. We had no campsite for that night and and so continued to Kayenta Arizona, maybe to find WIFI anywhere. Many tourists had the same idea like we had: free WIFI at McDonalds. When we entered everybody was staring at their smart phone and crashed the network. With a supermarket-WIFI we found the nearest option to camp at the Navajo National Monument about 20 miles away. There are not many choices for camping  at the Navajo Tribal Lands and it is free!

 

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