Southeast Utah has many national monuments. North and west of here are the five major national parks most people visit: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion. I am here to visit the national monuments.
Utah weather has been mild, my campground is quiet at night; wonderful sleeping! After breakfast, I drove to Bears Ears and Natural Bridges, both National Monuments. I contemplated driving a 6 mile dirt road to between the bears ears, but decided not. My van is not a 4-wheel drive vehicle, so I wanted to choose which dirt roads I’ll drive and that just seemed an extra.
You drive through Bears Ears National Monument with possible stops at various viewpoints, ruins, or washes. Eventually you arrive at Natural Bridges National Monument. It has a 9 mile, one-way, paved, scenic loop drive with overlooks/hikes to each of the natural bridges. This national monument is managed by the US Park Service whereas Bears Ears is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and I believe five American Indian tribes. All the natural bridges have Hopi names.
Three popular natural bridges, but there really are many more, at Natural Bridges National Monument:
Sipapu Bridge: means “place of emergence”.
Kachina Bridge: named for symbols used on kachina dolls.
Owachomo Bridge: means “ rock mound” because it has a feature atop the bridge’s east side. I hiked the furthest on the trail near this bridge. I hiked down into Armstrong Canyon and there were some pools of water. Pleasant surprise … while talking with a woman at the Owachomo Bridge, I discover she is camped next to me at Devil’s Canyon campground! Small world!
There is plenty of early human history and natural history to become aware of while you visit this area. One major reminder for me was the difference between natural bridges and arches. Natural bridges are formed by moving water eroding the rock. Arches form from other erosional forces, frost and seeping moisture, which also will enlarge natural bridges in time.
If you are in the area, visit national parks and national monuments! Lots of beautiful landscape to see in southeast Utah!