Nels Johnson Natural Bridges are a pair of small natural bridges located Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, United States. They are usually encountered as part of the hike to the much larger and more impressive Hickman Bridge. The larger of the two Nels Johnson Natural Bridges has a span of 6 feet and a height of 5 feet.


The trail starts at a parking area along highway 24 two miles east of the visitor center. The hike all the way to Hickman Bridge is 2 mile round trip and has a bit of ascent (500 feet) that includes rock steps in places. Younger kids will probably enjoy this hike as here are a lot of things to climb on or explore – the rocks in Capitol Reef often feature interested eroded voids in the rock that will be fun to climb around in. While fairly well known, we were able to make the trip and mostly have the arch to ourselves while visiting in early June. Odds are you’ll have a few others on the trail with you in the busy summer season, however, but nothing like you will encounter at the more popular arches near Moab or at Arches National Park.

Hickman Natural Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Hickman Natural Bridge

Along the way, there are quite a few things to observe – the trail brochure denotes 17 of them. Foremost among them is an Indian granary, the Nels Johnson Bridges and Hickman Bridge, which is the highlight of the hike.

Be a Careful Adventurer

It will be very hot in the summer months – please take some water along. Also, be aware that the entire southwest United States, including this trail, is habitat for poisonous rattlesnakes. Do not thrust your hands or your children into dark pockets of rock or on shady sides of rocks without checking for snakes first. Make your approach known with a bit of noise  and the snakes, if there, will scurry along as they don’t want to encounter you any more than you them.


The trail to Nels Johnson Natural Bridges and Hickman Natural Bridge starts at a parking area along highway 24 two miles east of the Capitol Reef National Park visitor center. The park itself is fairly remote in south-central Utah in canyon country and it will probably be encountered as part of a multi national park road trip that includes Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Also often included in a road trip is nearby Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon. The nearest lodging is in the small town of Torrey, Utah.

Read about Hickman Natural Bridge here.

To learn more, read my page on Capitol Reef National Park.

Read about all the arches and natural bridges I have visited here.

Utah has a ton of fun things to do. Check out a few of them here.


IT pro by day, avid traveler and photographer by night.

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