From Monticello, we moved a little further south to Bluff, UT. There we parked at the Coral Sands RV Park.
One of our outings was a day trip that featured Natural Bridges National Monument. Natural bridges are formed by the erosive action of moving water. As a stream forms a big looping meander and all but circles back on itself, it can carve the thin rock wall in which a natural bridge forms. This set of three natural bridges was “discovered” in 1883 by a gold prospector, then publicized by National Geographic Magazine in 1904. Over time they were given a variety of names but ultimately, to honor early residents of this area, the General Land Office settled on Hopi names of Sipapu, Kachina, and Owachomo.
Returning to Bluff, we took state highway 261 south which is part of the Trail of the Ancients, a National Scenic Byway. This highway takes you across the top of Cedar Mesa. Once you reach the southern edge of Cedar Mesa, you will encounter the Moki Dugway. This unpaved road descends the face of the mesa, dropping 1,200 feet in three miles with 10% to 11% grades. In the photo above, you can see a portion of the road as it winds its way down the mesa. It was originally constructed in 1958 by a mining company to allow the transport of uranium ore. The view of the Valley of the Gods from the top of Cedar Mesa looking south is breathtaking. (In case there’s any confusion, we drove this road in the CR-V, not the motorhome.)
A little west of Bluff we took a look at a large collection of petroglyphs etched into the canyon wall at a place called Sand Island near the San Juan River. These are estimated to be anywhere from 800 to 2,500 years old.
Next stop: Monument Valley, UT