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One last National Monument before home

A small National Monument in south-eastern Utah is Natural Bridges.  It is home to 3 bridges which are different from arches in that they are formed by moving water erosion but arches are formed by other erosional forces.   The park has a small campground, 13 sites, and is not recommended for vehicles longer than 26′.  Our trailer is 18′ and I’m pretty sure the Tundra is more than 8′ but we didn’t have any problem fitting into a spot.  Once the trailer was disconnected we did the one-way scenic drive as the sun was quickly setting and the canyon was falling into shadow.  The last parking lot on the drive seemed a good spot to walk the dogs however a warning rattle at Varel and Ernie from a snake off the side of the pavement kept the walk short and in the center of the paved area since we had left our lights in the car.
The next morning we headed to the Sipapu Bridge trail to catch the morning light.  Sipapu is the second largest natural bridge in the world, only Rainbow Bridge is bigger.  The trail is a series of switchbacks and wooden ladders to reach the best view, from the river bottom 500′ below. Going down was pretty easy, and it was nice down on the river bottom, but climbing back up was a little bit of work!

Map showing Moki Dugway

We headed out southbound on 261 also known as the Trail of the Ancients, which brought us to a small section of road that Ernie had failed to see when deciding on our route.  It is called the Moki Dugway and is an 1100′ drop over 3 miles of 5 mph switch backs and a 10% grade all on a narrow gravel road which is not recommended for RV’s, buses or towing vehicles.   No problem, we’ve been on worse.  At least it wasn’t the Black Range in winter.  From the top which is at 6425′, you are overlooking Valley of the Gods and the whole San Juan River valley all the way to Monument Valley.  It really wasn’t as bad as all the warning signs made it out to be and hopefully the RV that stopped us at the bottom to ask if we thought they could make it up the hill did actually make it up and were not cursing the whole way.  The rest of the day was a long drive across all of Arizona to spend the night in Yuma with friends before returning to San Diego the next day.
Trip stats:

  • 31 days
  • 4700 miles
  • 8 states
  • 4 balloon rallies
  • 10 flights
  • 3 balloon glows
  • 5 scrubbed flights
  • 75 lbs. of dog food
  • 10700′ the highest elevation (not in a balloon)
  • -52′ the lowest elevation
  • 5 federal lands
  • 3 state parks
  • 1 flat tire
  • 1 failed bearing


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