Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of the Four Corners boundary of southeast Utah, in the western United States, at the junction of White Canyon and Armstrong Canyon, part of the Colorado River drainage. It features the thirteenth largest natural bridge in the world, carved from the white Permian sandstone of the Cedar Mesa Formation that gives White Canyon its name.

The three bridges in the park are named Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu (the largest), which are all Hopi names. A natural bridge is formed through erosion by water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods, particularly, the stream undercuts the walls of rock that separate the meanders (or "goosenecks") of the stream until the rock wall within the meander is undercut and the meander is cut off and the new stream bed then flows underneath the bridge. Eventually, as erosion and gravity enlar...Read more

Natural Bridges National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of the Four Corners boundary of southeast Utah, in the western United States, at the junction of White Canyon and Armstrong Canyon, part of the Colorado River drainage. It features the thirteenth largest natural bridge in the world, carved from the white Permian sandstone of the Cedar Mesa Formation that gives White Canyon its name.

The three bridges in the park are named Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu (the largest), which are all Hopi names. A natural bridge is formed through erosion by water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods, particularly, the stream undercuts the walls of rock that separate the meanders (or "goosenecks") of the stream until the rock wall within the meander is undercut and the meander is cut off and the new stream bed then flows underneath the bridge. Eventually, as erosion and gravity enlarge the bridge's opening, the bridge collapses under its own weight. There is evidence of at least two collapsed natural bridges within the Monument.

Humans have lived in the area around Natural Bridges since as early as 7500 BCE, as shown by rock art and stone tools found at nearby sites. Around 700 CE ancestors of modern Puebloan people moved to the site, and constructed stone and mortar buildings and granaries. These structures share similarities with those found in Mesa Verde National Park, which can be seen distantly, to the east, from the Bears Ears on the park's eastern border. Like the people of Mesa Verde, the residents of Natural Bridges seem to have left the region around the year 1270.[1]

Europeans first visited the area in 1883 when gold prospector, Cass Hite followed White Canyon upstream, from the Colorado River, and found the bridges near the junction of White and Armstrong canyons. In 1904, the National Geographic Magazine publicized the bridges and the area was designated a National Monument April 16, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. It is Utah's first National Monument.

The Monument was nearly inaccessible for many decades as reflected by the visitor log kept by the Monument's superintendents. Reaching the site from Blanding, Utah, the nearest settlement, would take a three-day horseback ride. The park received little visitation until after the uranium boom of the 1950s, which resulted in the creation of new roads in the area, including modern day Utah State Route 95, which was paved in 1976.

^ "History & Culture - Natural Bridges National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)".
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