Time to head for home . . . with a few photo stops along the way.
As we did every day of this trip, we set out before dawn in order to be at a certain location for the beautiful light of sunrise. This time we returned to the Factory Butte area west of Hanksville, UT, where we had been on Day 2, to get early light on the butte and on the mesas surrounding the off-road vehicle "recreation area."
The low angle of the sunlight added detail and depth to the surfaces of the butte and mesas.
|North Caineville Mesa and off-road vehicle "recreation area"|
|South Caineville Mesa and off-road vehicle "recreation area"|
After photographing the view from above, we drove down into the "recreation area" for off-road vehicles.
North Caineville Mesa looked beautiful . . .
. . . but the Mancos shale hills looked ominous in the shadows:
Time to move on . . .
We continued east to Hanksville, but instead of retracing our route back to Green River, Moab, etc., we turned south at Hanksville on Utah highway 95 toward the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in order to visit Natural Bridges National Monument.
The area that comprises Natural Bridges National Monument was set aside in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, becoming Utah's first National Park Service area.
Natural bridges are formed by the flow of water through and beneath a sandstone wall. Arches, on the other hand, such as those in Arches National Park, are created by the fracturing of sandstone from the repeated freezing and thawing of water in cracks of the stone. If you would like to learn more about the geology of Natural Bridges National Monument, click here.
There are three large natural bridges in the monument area. They are visible from above, but at a distance, so we chose one to hike down to one of them via stairs, ladders, and switchback trails along the walls of the canyon.
The bridge we chose is called "Sipapu," which means "place of emergence," an entryway or portal by which the Hopi people believe their ancestors came into this world.
Sipapu is the largest of the three bridges in the park, and the second largest natural bridge in the United States. (Rainbow Bridge in southern Utah is the largest.) It is 220 feet above the canyon floor, and its span is 268 feet -- almost large enough to accommodate the U.S. Capitol dome, which is 288 feet high and 96 feet in diameter.
On the floor of the canyon, we hiked downstream for a couple of miles in search of pueblo ruins tucked in under the canyon wall overhangs.
Though there was scant water in the stream that flows through the canyon -- which carved all the bridges and overhangs -- you can see how high the water rises on some occasions by the height of the debris wrapped around this tree trunk:
Eventually we spotted some ruins in the cliffs, but access was too steep for us:
I hope you have enjoyed the story and images from our photo expedition to Utah.
If you would like to see these images from the trip in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.