Discover San Juan County Excursions
Excursion H: Natural Bridges National Monument – Viewing of Bears Ears
(Limited to 30 participants)
The amazing force of water cut three spectacular natural bridges in White Canyon at Natural Bridges National Monument. A pair of towering buttes stand against beautiful scenery. The twin buttes are so distinctive that in each of the native languages of the region their name is the same: Hoon’Naqvut, Shash Jáa, Kwiyagatu Nukavachi, Ansh An Lashokdiwe, or in English: Bears Ears. This is the best location to view the Bears Ears. These stunning rock bridges have Hopi Indian names: delicate Owachomo means ‘rock mounds,’ massive Kachina means “dancer,” while Sipapu, the second largest natural bridge in the state, means “place of emergence.” A nine-mile scenic drive has overlooks of the bridges, canyons and a touch of history with ancient Puebloan ruins.
There is ample evidence that ancient people occupied this complex system of canyons from about 500 B.C. until around 1270 A.D.. The earliest inhabitants probably lived in pit houses on the mesa tops, while the later Ancestral Puebloans built cliff dwellings that can still be seen today. They likely formed on the broad mesas, not in the narrow canyons. (source: BLM)
Hiking Instructions: Moderate to difficult trails, some with metal stairs, lead down to each bridge. A longer trail follows the stream bed beneath all three bridges.