While we were visiting the National Monuments of Southeast Utah last month it rained a lot. Which of course put a damper in our hiking plans for the trip. This kept us from being able to hike to all three of the bridges in Natural Bridges National Monument, but on our last day we were able to hike to what is arguably the most impressive of the three: Owachomo Bridge.
What You Will See at Owachomo Bridge
What makes Owachomo the most impressive of the bridges is largely due to its thin span which makes it look very bridge-like. This comes as a matter of time. According to geologists Owachomo is likely the oldest of the three bridges and therefore has experienced the most erosion giving it the largest opening.
The bridge is impressive even from the overlook point (which is fully accessible to wheelchairs and strollers). But it becomes even more awesome as you walk down the trail to the bridge itself. The trail is just to the right as you come towards the look out point.
Because you are descending into a canyon the trail is fairly steep, but it is well maintained and not difficult to walk on. It also is not very long. Looking at the bridge from the lookout point we were skeptical that the trail was only half a mile round trip. But it turns out that the view was deceptive. We didn’t even hike very fast and it did not take us long at all to reach the bridge.
As we made our way down we kept wondering where the trail would stop. I think this was largely due to our previous experience with Landscape Arch in Arches National Park. You are not allowed to get very close to Landscape Arch anymore, but that turned out not to be the case at all with Owachomo Bridge. We were able to walk right out under the bridge. This is really nice because it helps you to grasp the sheer enormity of the geological wonder.
You can walk under the bridge, but under no circumstances can you walk on the bridge. Despite the picture of Teddy Roosevelt riding a horse across the Owachomo Bridge, in order to preserve it you cannot climb on it. Please respect this rule when visiting any natural wonder.
How to Get to the Owachomo Bridge Trail
Owachomo Bridge is the last of the bridges on the one way loop that makes up Natural Bridges National Monument. We arrived at the National Monument from Blanding, Utah by taking Highway 95 to the west. You are on this road for quite a while even though the total distance is not that far you go up and down a lot. Be careful driving this road as it is quite steep in some places, don’t burn out your brakes on the downhills.
You will see signs directing you toward the National Monument, but at the turnoff itself you will oddly only see sign telling how far it is to Lake Powell. Once you reach the turnoff you still have to drive for a bit on that road before reaching the Visitors’ Center.
After paying your fee ($10) or showing your pass at the Visitors Center, continue on the only road in the park. If you are going to do other hikes you will want to do them in order since the road is one way only. Owachomo Bridge will be the last hike you do, for us it was the only one we could do. There is a pretty good sized parking lot at the trailhead. Nobody else was in the park when we were there, so I can’t speak to how crowded it might get on busy days.
The hike to Owachomo Bridge is short, fairly easy, and spectacular. I am really glad that we were able to do this hike. The natural bridge phenomenon can’t be seen in very many places in the world and this bridge is one of the most impressive examples anywhere. We highly recommend this hike.