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Elephant Rock – Interesting Small Arch in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Elephant Rock is located in Valley of Fire State Park, which is in southeastern Nevada about 50 miles from Las Vegas. It is easily seen from the road just inside the east entrance, but to see it on foot or get a picture, you need to take an easy 0.4 mile round-trip hike from the parking near the east entrance. There are a lot of other interesting rock formations nearby, including dozens of tiny, unnamed arches that are more like windows but are fun to explore.

Elephant Rock is not a big arch, but it’s shape is very unusual and is clearly shaped as the elephant from which it gets its name. You may need to check the arch out from several sides to get your most interesting picture.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire gets its name because of the bright red sandstone located there, but also because it gets really hot in the summer – temperatures can go above 100° Fahrenheit.

Read all about Valley of Fire State Park here.

Nevada isn’t just for gambling or those hunting for Area 51. See some more natural areas worth visiting here.

Read descriptions of other arches I have visited here.

The United States is blessed with an abundance of scenic areas to experience. For a list by of great places to visit by state, with useful advice, go here.

Arch Rock – Located in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Arch Rock is located in Valley of Fire State Park, which is in southeastern Nevada about 50 miles from Las Vegas. It is easily seen from near the paved road but can also be part of a nice 2 mile loop walk that takes you to other nice sights such as Piano Rock.

Arch Rock is not a big arch – about 12 feet by 8 feet, but the rock is an interesting color and its shape is neat. You may need to approach it a bit as it is hidden somewhat depending on your angle of view. The arch is delicate, however, and it is illegal to climb.

Arch Rock, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire gets its name because of the bright red sandstone located there, but also because it gets really hot in the summer – temperatures can go above 100° Fahrenheit.

Read all about Valley of Fire State Park here.

Nevada isn’t just for gambling or those hunting for Area 51. See some more natural areas worth visiting here.

Read descriptions of other arches I have visited here.

The United States is blessed with an abundance of scenic areas to experience. For a list by of great places to visit by state, with useful advice, go here.

Bryce Canyon Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park – 85 foot tall arch

Natural Bridge, Bryce Canyon National Park
Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge located in Bryce Canyon National Park is misnamed as it is in fact an arch. It is 85 feet high and is easily accessed from the Bryce Canyon rim drive – it is only steps away from the parking. The way the land falls away from it offers a nice view and photo opp. There are no hiking opportunities around the arch as the ground is too steep.

Bryce Canyon has myriads of small arches (I’d call them windows), but Natural Bridge is easily the best of them. There are two artificial arches that you can drive through along state road 12 in Red Canyon state park which is near Bryce Canyon. They are technically tunnels, but if looks and feels more like driving through arches.

Red Rock Arch
Road driving through tunnel arch at Red Rock State Park near Bryce

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah and is well worth your time. You can read about it here.

To read about other national parks, go here.

See a list of natural bridges and arches I have seen with descriptions and advice here.

Utah is a great state to visit, with lots of things to see and do. Learn a bot a bunch of them here.

 

 

Hickman Natural Bridge in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Hickman Natural Bridge is a natural bridge located in Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, United States. It is 125 feet tall and 133 feet across and with easy access to be able to walk under it or through it for a better experience.

Trail

The 2 mile round trip trail 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 trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Along Hickman Natural Bridge trail

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 and a cute little pair of natural bridges called Nels Johnson Bridges.

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 little noise and the snakes, if there, will scurry along as they don’t want to encounter you any more than you them.

Directions

The trail 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.

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.

Here are a few high resolution pictures of the trail and bridge:

Hickman Natural Bridge trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Hickman Natural Bridge trail steps
Hickman Natural Bridge trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Hickman Natural Bridge trail
Nels Johnson Natural Bridges, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Nels Johnson Natural Bridges

Hickman Natural Bridge trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Hickman Natural Bridge trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Hickman Natural Bridge trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Hickman Natural Bridge trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Hickman Natural Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Hickman Natural Bridge from the far side
Hickman Natural Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Hickman Natural Bridge
Hickman Natural Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Hickman Natural Bridge

 

 

Nels Johnson Natural Bridges in Capitol Reef National Park along Hickman Bridge Trail

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.

Trail

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.

Directions

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.

Mesa Arch in Arches National Park- Photography Advice and Directions

Mesa Arch is a very photographed and scenic arch located right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the white rim trail of Canyonlands National Park. The arch’s span is 90 feet and the height is hard to determine because of the way it hugs the cliff, but is basically 7 feet above the cliff where you’ll be viewing it. It is located in Canyonlands National Park in the Island in the Sky district.

The view through the arch includes the formation known as the Washer Woman on the left side as well as the White Rim Trail.

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
Mesa Arch late in day shadows

Photographic Advice

Mesa Arch has nice photography features for many times in the day. At sunrise, expect there to be a bit of a crowd as the sun can be photographed rising below the arch for a nice shot, but once it rises very far, the sun will be behind the arch and the arch will remain in shadow until mid-day, making morning after sunrise the worst time to visit. Mesa Arch is lit by afternoon sun and you can get a nice balanced photo at that time. At sunset, the sun brightens the arch in nice color, but shadows lengthen quickly and put the canyon you see through the arch in heavy shadow and eventually shadows are cast on the arch itself. Don’t wait too late to take your late-day picture.

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
Mesa Arch from rocks on right

You can climb up on the rocks to the right to shoot the arch at a slightly different angle.

Directions

From Moab, Utah, head north on highway 191. After about 11 miles, turn left onto Utah 313 – you should see a sign for Canyonlands National Park. You’ll arrive at the entrance to Canyonlands National Park in about 14.6 miles. Continue 12.8 miles and you should see parking for the trail on your right. A $10 per car fee is required to enter the national park or a previously purchased park pass. There is other nice things to do in Canyonlands National Park, so plan on spending more time there.

The area around Mesa Arch is full of many excellent places to visit. Arches National Park and many other arches like Corona Arch make the area a great place to spend a few days (or weeks!).

Mesa Arch Trail Flowers, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
Trail Flowers

Trail

The Mesa Arch trail is an easy .7 mile round trip hike that traverses the desert landscape from the parking area to the arch. The trail is not paved, but a large wheel stroller will easily handle it. Seasonally, there are some nice wild flowers growing. Please stay on the trail to prevent unnecessary damage to the desert.

To read about all the arches and bridges I’ve visited, go here.

Utah is a beautiful state full of things to do. Check out a few here.

 

Jug Handle Arch – Interesting Arch near Moab, Utah and Arches National Park

Jug Handle Arch is an interesting arch along the Colorado River just south of Moab, Utah. This should not be confused with the more difficult to see arch of the same name in Zion National Park. Jug Handle sits close to the bluff, which leads to its name. At a height of 46 feet, it has a much longer span.

Directions

Jug Handle Arch is easy to see if you are in the Moab area. Go north from Moab on Hwy 191 and turn left on Hwy Hwy 279 (Potash Mine Rd) just after crossing the Colorado River. Follow this paved road along the Colorado River for 13.4 miles. Watch for a sign and parking area on the right. The arch is high up on the cliff. You can see it from the car but a better view will be had by getting out, of course.

Make sure to watch for the Petroglyphs along the way on Hwy 279. If you have the time and inclination, I strongly recommend making the stop at Corona Arch (you will pass the trailhead on the right going toward Jug Handle Arch). The hike is 3 miles round trip, but Corona Arch and the nearby Bow Tie Arch are impressive.

Musselman Arch – Canyonlands National Park along White Rim Trail

Musselman Arch is located in Canyonlands National Park. Accessible only by a rough dirt track, it is best reached by a high clearance vehicle, but can also be seen via biking or a long hike. While Technically a natural bridge (it was called Little Bridge in the past), it is 5 feet thick, 6 feet wide and 187 feet long, while being 300 feet above the ground. It is hard to find country that is more impressively wild than Canyonlands.

Musselman Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Moab Utah

Directions

To get to Musselman Arch, drive north from Moab on Hwy 191 and turn on Hwy 279 (Potash Mine Rd) – it is about 10 miles total going from here to the arch. Follow the paved road to the potash mine where it becomes a 4WD road that should be navigable for most high clearance vehicles. Go past the evaporation ponds (if filled, they are of the deepest blue) and into Canyonlands National Park. The road will meet the White Rim Trail – make a left and the arch is about 2.25 miles. A Day Use Permit is required to enter the canyon in this way.

As you make your way on Hwy 279, make sure to see the Petroglyphs along the Colorado River. If you have time, stop at the trailhead for Corona Arch and make that 3 mile round-trip hike – it is a great arch. Continuing along Hwy 279, watch for Jug Handle Arch, which is right along the highway.

Shafer Trail

Shafer Trail, Canyonlands National Park, Moab Utah
Shafer Trail

You can also make the trip to Musselman Arch by taking the Shafer Trail from Canyonlands Island in the Sky district down the iconic Shafer Trail which starts just before the entrance station. Again, high clearance is recommended. Don’t take the Shafer trail down if you are not comfortable with extreme switchbacks, long drop-offs and no guard rails. This road is not for the faint-of-heart or inexperienced driver. The arch is about 5 miles going in this direction. A loop from Potash Road to the Arch and then up Shafer Trail is a logical route.

Hike

The hike from the parking area is only about 300 feet on mostly level ground. You are on about the same level as the arch when you approach it.

Check out my page on Arches and Natural Bridges.

Shafer Trail, Potash Road Map, Canyonlands National Park, Moab Utah
Shafer Trail/Potash Road Map

Landscape Arch in Arches National Park – See this Amazing Arch

Landscape Arch is one of the most famous arches in the world, and for good reason. No other arch in the whole world is such a combination of size and delicacy. It even makes the nearby Delicate Arch look positively solid in comparison.

With a 290 foot span, it is officially the fifth largest arch or natural bridge in the world, but with a thickness of as little as 6 feet, it ranks as one of the most endangered. In fact, recently recorded rockfalls from the arch in 1991 of a 73 foot slab of rock and a pair of others in 1995 of a 47 foot rock followed by a 30 foot rockfall has resulted in tons of rock falling from Landscape Arch and the nearby supporting rock. It may last for another century, or fall next week. No one has any way of knowing.

Due to the rockfalls and concerns about erosion around the arch, access to hike up close to Landscape has been curtailed and you’ll have to content yourself with a view from the main Devil’s Garden trail.

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park, Utah, USA

Landscape Arch can be accessed in Arches National Park and is in the Devil’s Garden area of the park. The hike is just over 1.5 miles round trip and you can see two smaller arches along the way with short detours – Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.  The hike to Landscape Arch is mostly level on a well marked dirt path that is pretty busy in season and has plenty to look at along the way as it ends its way through the sandstone fins and other features that are so common in Arches National Park.

The trail continues past Landscape Arch to nearby Navajo Arch and Partition Arch after the only significant uphill climb on the trail. If you are willing to take a longer hike, the impressive Double O arch lies beyond along with the spire named Dark Angel and also Private arch on a spur of the trail. Total hiking to see all of the arches in this Devil’s Garden loop trail is about 7.8 miles.

To read more about Arches National Park, go here.

Read more about the arches and natural bridges I’ve visited here.

Utah is a worthwhile destination full of things to do. Check out a few here.

 

Pine Tree Arch in Arches National Park – See this plus many other arches nearby

Pine Tree Arch is in Utah’s Arches National Park in the Devil’s Garden section of the park. You will likely see Pine Tree Arch on the way to the more famous (and dramatic) Landscape Arch. Pine Tree Arch is easily experienced as the trail leads right up to it and you can stand under it. It has a a traditional arch shape and is about 45 feet high and wide.

Hiking to Pine Tree Arch is easy, only about .4 miles one-way. You won’t want to just see Pine Tree Arch, however. Take the longer hike to Landscape Arch, which is just over 1.5 miles round trip and add a few tenths to see Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch, which share the same brief detour from the main trail. You can also see a few more nice arches if you take the entire loop trail of 7.8 miles.  Navajo Arch, Double O Arch and Private Arch are all along this same loop.

Learn all about Arches National Park here.

Read more about the arches and natural bridges I’ve visited here.

Utah is a worthwhile destination full of things to do. Check out a few here.