May 19, 2013
We got a late start this morning as we went out to breakfast with Jim and JoDee. Finally got away around 10:00 and then fueled up at $3.79 a gallon.
Headed south out of Moab for Blanding, we are staying in a small RV park here as it is the closest place to Natural Bridges National Monument. There are three bridges in the park Sipapu, Kachina, Owachomo, these are all Hopi names. A natural bridge is formed through erosion by water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods, particularly, the stream undercuts the walls of rock that separate the meanders (or "goosenecks") of the stream, until the rock wall within the meander is undercut and the meander is cut off; the new stream bed then flows underneath the bridge. Eventually, as erosion and gravity enlarge the bridge's opening, the bridge collapses under its own weight.
Sipapu is the largest of the bridges at 225’ in length and is the 2nd largest longest bridge in the world. The name of the arch comes from the Hopi word sipapu, a word for a symbolic portal from which the first human ancestors emerged.
Kachina is the youngest of the bridges and known as the middle bridge. Kachina is proof that canyons are dynamic rather than static. Approximately 4,000 tons of sandstone fell from the inside of the Kachina bridge opening in June, 1992, enlarging the opening as it has doubtless been enlarged time and time again.
The final bridge is Owashomo the smallest and thinnest of the three bridge here and is commonly thought to be the oldest. We may never know for certain, as each of the bridges certainly have eroded at different rates. Regardless of its relative age, it is certainly the most fragile and elegant of the three spans, and an awe inspiring feature of erosion. Owachomo means “rock mound”.