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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Sipapu Bridge, UT

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47 11 1
Guide 11 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southeast
Rated
3.9
3.9 of 5 by 7
 
2
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
Statistics
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,894 feet
Elevation Gain 500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 3.7
Interest Ruins & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
23  2017-10-05
Natural Bridges NM
AZWanderingBear
7  2016-04-18
Natural Bridges National Monument
trekkin_gecko
4  2014-12-28 Lucyan
13  2011-05-17 Kel1969
16  2011-04-01
Sipapu-Owachomo Loop Trail
GrottoGirl
14  2009-05-20 hippiepunkpirate
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 137
Routes 111
Photos 5,253
Trips 942 map ( 2,097 miles )
Age 38 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → Any
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:07am - 6:19pm
Official Route
 
1 Alternative
 
Water
Geology Nearby
2nd largest natural bridge in America!
by PaleoRob

Likely In-Season!
Natural Bridges National Monument is a rather small park, with no backpacking opportunities, and only a few maintained trails. Its natural, historic, and prehistoric attractions are almost out of scale, considering the monument's small size! The park contains hundreds of prehistoric Anasazi ruins, dozens of historic sites, and three of the largest natural bridges in the United States. Natural bridges are formed differently than natural arches. While natural arches, such as are common at the nearby Arches National Park, look similar, natural arches are not formed by water flowing under them. Bridges, as the name implies, span a creek or other body of flowing, or previously flowing, water.


Sipapu Bridge is the largest of the three bridges in Natural Bridges National Monument, and the second largest natural bridge, after Rainbow Bridge, in the United States. The trail to Sipapu is steep, and can be very icy during the winter.

Starting from the paved parking lot, the trail descends in easy switchbacks across a slickrock slope until reaching a slickrock bench. The trail then heads westerly along this bench until you reach the top of one of two staircases built into the cliff face. This allows access to the lower sections of the canyon, otherwise inaccessible due to a sheer cliff of about 200 feet. The trail then continues by the cliff face, shaded year-round with large pine trees, along a narrow ledge.

After a short descent the ledge flattens out again, and the trail branches by a beat-up Anasazi granary and a trail register that is no longer used. Continuing along the ledge leads to a point with a nice view of Sipapu Bridge below in the canyon. Following the trail heading down from the trail register will take you to Sipapu Bridge itself.

Below the register, the trail goes into a series of steep switchbacks to cross a talus slope. They can be narrow and rocky at times, so watch your footing. When the switchbacks end, you are on a slickrock slope again, with a nice view of Sipapu Bridge looming across the canyon in front of you. The slickrock crossing is the trickiest part of the hike, as it is often steep and can be snowy/icy/slippery during the winter. There is an seasonal spring that flows occasionally during the slickrock crossing, and algae can make this section treacherous even during warmer months when there is no ice. This is an easy place to twist an ankle.

The Park Service has installed metal railings for portions of this crossing, and you would be well advised to use them. There are also three log ladders in place to help with steep sections of slickrock and overhangs. They can be slightly unnerving, but rest assured that they are sturdy enough for most people.

The final ladder sets you down in a grove of Gamble Oak directly below Sipapu Bridge. Looking up through the leaves is a neat sight. The trail heads towards the center of the bridge, where a sandbar clear of trees allows for a clearer view of the size of the span. Sit back, have lunch, enjoy Armstrong Creek running across the boulders and sand. Done relaxing? Then hit the trail either back to the trailhead, or downcanyon on a hike to either Horsecollar Ruin or one of the other natural bridges.

While there is a small spring on the slopes above Sipapu, and Armstrong Creek runs frequently, it is recommended to fill all your bottles of water at the Visitor's Center.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2007-12-23 PaleoRob
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Sipapu Bridge
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Natural Bridges NM
    Day 2 of my 14-day found me in Natural Bridges NM. I set up camp, spent some time talking to the helpful rangers and then drove the loop hitting all the overlooks. The ruins were interesting looking from the rim, but there wasn't a way to get closer that I could sleuth out.Camp was a quiet night grilling a burger and turning in early. I don't sleep well in campgrounds -too many people and noises.

    Headed out to do the Sipapu-Owachomo Loop following the ranger's good advice and leaving my vehicle at Owachomo and hiking counter clockwise starting across the mesa near sunrise. I thought the mesa portion of the hike would be boring, but it was great. There were huge areas of cryptobiotic soil, the cedar pinion forest, animal sounds, slick rock areas. Nice way to start.

    The drop into Sipapu requires ladders, got to love a hike that requires ladders. I'd read a lot about this bridge in particular and enjoyed knowing the story as I descended. It is truly impressive to be under this formation.

    The hike along the bottom of the drainage was nice. The trail isn't maintained and can be difficult to follow sometimes as it crosses and recrosses the stream bed, but you can't really get lost. Its pretty lush with cottonwoods, willows, tamarisk and two very out of place spruce trees. Some potholes of water were easily easily worked around and surrounded by deer, coyote and bobcat tracks. The ranger had warned me of extensive muddy areas, but those had largely dried and the little remaining was easily avoided. The quietness was a physical thing. I stepped on a dried cottonwood stick and the resulting loud snap seemed a violation of local protocol.

    Passed one hiker going the other way before arriving at Kachina Bridge. The abutments of Kachina are just simply massive. A couple had dropped down from the overlook above. We exchanged pleasantries as I took my lunch in the shade of the bridge.

    I was mindful of the ranger's admonition to NOT follow the White Canyon Creek drainage NW. "The next stop is Lake Powell in 50 miles. You won't make it," he said. But the trail took me upslope and I worried I was headed for the overlook and almost dropped back into the drainage below, only to realize going up was required to avoid the 80' pour off between Kachina and Owachomo. The remaining hike to Owachomo was through a narrowing canyon with the sun in my face. The trail became fainter, harder to follow until finally I saw the bridge and knew the truck was close by.

    Stopped back at the visitor center to refill my water bottles and debrief the ranger on the trail. We swapped stories for a bit and then I headed back to camp for a nap in my tent cot and one more evening before pressing on the next morning.
    Sipapu Bridge
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Natural Bridges National Monument
    Road trip :)
    Got to natural bridges national monument early afternoon
    Plenty of time to hike down to sipapu bridge and almost up to the horsecollar ruins, then down to kachina and owachomo bridges
    Great scenery on the drive up
    Moki dugway was pretty cool
    Stayed in blanding and headed for Moab on Tuesday
    Bonus hiking on a travel day and a great start to the trip
    Sipapu Bridge
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Day 3 of my May 2009 Utah trip. I'm really glad I did this hike because from the viewpoints, the bridges don't look very impressive. From the canyon floor, it's a different story. To get a better perspective on the massiveness of the bridges in this park, it is essential that one looks up at them from below. I would definitely like to come back and hike down below Kachina Bridge and Owachoma Bridge.

    Permit $$
    NPS

    Natural Bridges National Monument
    $6 per car (Good for 7 days) Entrance Fee


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Blanding, Utah, take Utah Route 95 west, following the signs to Natural Bridges National Monument. Turn left on Utah Route 275 (also signed for Natural Bridges). Enter the Monument, and stop at the visitor's center to pay the fee. Continue down the road to the T-junction and turn right on the one-way Bridge View loop road. Continue past the Sipapu Bridge overlook parking area, and turn off just down the road, on the right hand side, at the Sipapu Bridge trailhead. It is a large paved parking lot with signs at the trailhead, and parking on either side; impossible to miss. Park there, and begin your hike.
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