Saturday, October 25, 2008

Morning Glory Bridge in Negro Bill Canyon

The Negro Bill Trail to Morning Glory Bridge is about a 4 mile round trip to one of the largest natural rock spans in the world. The trail head is about 3 miles east of Moab along Highway 128 in southeast Utah. This area is near the south end of Arches National Park.

The well marked trail follows along a year round clear stream and crosses it several times. The crossings usually have stepping stones and the water is shallow in fall. The walls of the canyon are very high and steep and the canyon bottom is lush with riparian vegetation.

The Morning Glory Bridge is at the end of the second side canyon to the right. The main canyon continues for several more miles. There is a little bit of elevation change upwards in the last section of the hike. Though the trail is well marked, keep an eye open for the route toward the bridge.

The interpretive information at the trail head says that the span of Morning Glory Bridge is 243 feet, making it the sixth largest in the United States.

There isn't much of a gap between the span and the back wall, but it is easy to get below and see blue sky in between.
There were a lot of fins and alcoves along the route, but I didn't spot any other arches or any signs of Indian Ruins. This trail has a lot of poison ivy growing in the moist areas near the stream. Negro Bill was William Granstaff, an early settler who arrived in 1877.

I took about 2:00 hours to make the about 4 mile round trip. There were at least 20 other hikers on this trail on a late October day.

Courthouse Wash Rock Art

At the south end of the Court House Wash Trail in Arches National Park in southeast Utah there is a Rock Art Panel that overlooks the junction of the wash with the Colorado River. There is a side trail climbing up to view the panel.
  The south end of the Court House Wash Trail can be accessed with out actually entering the Park. The Courthouse Wash Trail is the only true canyon habitat trail in Arches Park and is about 6 miles long.

There is a parking area about two miles south of the main entrance along Highway 191. The Rock Art Panel faces the highway.

The trail up to the Rock Art is about 0.5 miles and is marked by rock cairns but there is not a sign pointing it out, so you have to know you are looking for it. There is an interpretive sign below the panel that is visible before the panel is.

There is something of a jarring contrast in viewing ancient works of art, then turning to overlook a busy highway and the tourist and industrial activity of Moab.

The interpretive sign indicates that the long tapered figures are the work of archaic Indians and is known as the Barrier style. The Barrier style is the oldest style in the region and is associated with the Archaic Culture. The work may be 1500 to 4000 years old. Unfortunately, the panel was vandalized in 1980 and much of the color has been destroyed.

On the rock slabs that are in front of the pictographs, there are some petroglyphs appearing to be mostly of sheep. These are thought to be the work of the historic Utes. Sites that are near geographic crossroads, such as this stream junction are often used for Rock Art.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Updraft Arch

Updraft Arch is about 1.0 miles east of Moab along Highway 128, near Arches National Park in southeast Utah. The arch overlooks the Colorado River from high sandstone cliffs on the south side of the highway. The Goose Island information and interpretive site provides easy parking and a route for easy viewing.

There are numerous campgrounds and river access points along this section of the Colorado River.
From the east side of the information pullout, a gravel road descends down to a paved bike trail. There are good views of the Colorado River and the spectacular cliffs.

To see the arch hike back to the west along the bike trail for a few hundred yards, looking at the cliffs to the south.

Updraft Arch appears to be a pothole type of arch. Looking at the opening to the right of the arch , the two formations look like a pair of droopy eyes. It may be possible to view the top of Updraft Arch from the Moab Slickrock bike trail.

There isn't a sign pointing out Updraft Arch in the information pullout or along the bike trail. The interpretive information points out that this area is good for watchable wildlife.

The water and lush vegetation provide habitat for numerous birds and mammals such as beaver and otters. The high cliffs and talus slopes attract desert Bighorn Sheep and Peregrine Falcons.

Looking Glass Arch

Looking Glass Rock is a large arch about 2.0 miles west off of Highway 191, south of Moab in southeast Utah. The road is well marked as Looking Glass Road and is a little north of the large Wilson Arch that is visible along the highway.

There is a dirt road that leads right to the base of Looking Glass Rock, or you can stop at the junction and hike a little bit. There is a small BLM sign pointing out the formation. Moving to the right and back along a fence, it looks like this is a double arch.

The climb up closer on the sandstone is fairly easy, but to get under the arch looked steep with a dangerous drop off.
There is another dirt road that allows easy access around to the other side of Looking Glass Rock. From this opposite angle the formation is more hollowed out and I thought resembled an elephant's head.

Looking Glass Arch is one of three arches that offer short hikes along this section of Highway 191. The others are the obvious Wilson Arch and the less noticed Lopez Arch.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lopez Arch Trail

Lopez Arch is one of 50 large arches that are south of Moab in southeast Utah and outside of Arches National Park. It is visible from Highway 191 at mile post 98, about 2.5 miles south of the more visible Wilson Arch.There is a large pull over place on the east side of Highway 191 but there is no sign calling attention to Lopez Arch. It is in a fin about 0.25 miles away but may be hard to see from the highway depending on the light.
There is a path leading to the fence and an eroded spot where you can crouch down and slip under. There isn't an official trail but there are some hiker made paths that lead down to a wash. Along the bank of the wash, without crossing it is possible to see blue sky through the opening.

It isn't hard to cross the wash and scramble up the sandstone on the other side to get a closer look. I only went far enough to get a good view and didn't try to get under the opening. There are also good views from this area back to the south toward the Blue Mountains.

This area is part of the Cameo Cliffs BLM area. There is an extensive system of ATV Trails in the area. Good maps are available at the staging area. Look for the highway sign for Steen Road and ATV trailhead.