I know this has been a burning question for thousands of you out there.
Well, fret no more. I have the answer.
Campsite Number 4.
Here it is:
The best part? The view!
There are only 13 sites at Natural Bridges, so you really can’t end up with a “bad” site. We arrived on the Friday before the Columbus Day holiday, and the state of Utah had just made a deal with the federal government to temporarily cover the cost of opening the National Parks in the state during the shutdown. Because of our lucky timing, there were only a couple of other campers sharing the campground with us that night.
Natural Bridges is a little nugget of a park, perfect for exploring in a few days. But it’s worth a longer stay, since its location on Cedar Mesa is right smack in the middle of hundreds of canyons that are chock full of fascinating Anasazi ruins.
And the night skies! Here’s a photo from the Park Service website, showing the incredible stars over Owachomo Bridge:
We sat around the fire and watched the Big Dipper circle around the North Star, imagining what the folks who lived on this mesa a thousand years ago would make of the shooting stars or the Milky Way.
The best way to see the park is to the hike the Loop Trail, an 8 1/2 mile trip that goes by all three bridges, beginning at the Sipapu Bridge trailhead.
Photographing the bridges was a challenge for me. The Sipapu Bridge looks tiny from the trailhead….see it there to the right of center in in this picture?
As you get closer you get a better sense of how massive these things are.
I tried a number of different angles, hoping to give a sense of what it feels like to stands under such a huge natural structure.
Somehow the bridges just don’t seem as impressive when you step back to get the whole thing in the picture.
There are ruins in the canyons you hike as well as bridges. It takes a bit of clambering to reach Horsecollar Ruins, but it’s worth it.
There are also some dandy petroglyphs on this mushroom shaped rock, to the right of the trail before you reach Owachomo Bridge.
The trail climbs out of the canyon at Owachomo Bridge and heads 2 miles across the mesa top back to the trailhead at Sipapu Bridge. You then get to go back to wonderful campsite number 4!