This morning we drove to Natural Bridges National Monument, a beautiful area in a white sandstone canyon where three natural bridges stand. There is a 9-mile loop among the bridges where nice walkways go to the lookouts. The bridges are formed from the washing of water over rock that forms a small hole which over time becomes larger and larger. Thus, the oldest bridge becomes the thinnest. The oldest, delicate bridge is Owachome Bridge which rises over 100 feet, but only 9 feet thick. The Kachina Bridge is the youngest, stands 220 feet and is 93 feet thick. Sipapu Bridge is 220 feet high and 53 feet thick. In 1908 Theodore Roosevelt established Natural Bridges National Monument, creating Utah’s first National Park System area.
Leaving there we came down the Moki Dugway which is a roughly paved hairpin-turn-filled section of Hwy 260 that descends 1100 feet in just 3 miles. Miners “dug out” the extreme switchbacks in the 1950’s to transport uranium ore. It seemed to be a busy highway and the narrow corners make it difficult to see oncoming traffic. Obviously, no Motor homes or trailers are allowed, but we were only in the truck. Sights of the Monument Valley are visible on the way down.
The town of Mexican Hat is named for the sombrero shaped rock that sits on the hill about 20 miles north of Monument Valley.
Monument Valley was our next stop. Land owned by the Navajos has been turned it into a tourist attraction, charging $5 a person to enter. The Valley is made up of buttes, mesas and free-standing rock formations that have been given names by the Navajos. You are encouraged to park your vehicle and ride with one of the Navajos in the back of his pick-up truck that has been converted to an open-air “Navajo tour bus”. Of course, that’s another fee, but not possible with us because we had the dogs. The roads are unpaved, rut-filled, sandy, dusty, and hard to drive on. We made it in our truck and felt sorry for the people bouncing in the backs of the pickup trucks going much faster than we were. We saw people holding scarves or handkerchiefs over their faces to try to protect themselves from the dirt they were eating. It was quite an experience. Once back outside we found a convenience store - gas station with a carwash and we rinsed off the truck immediately.