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2016 Fall Mountain Trip Part 17; Natural Bridges National Monument and Utah State Route 275

After leaving Arches National Park I headed southward on US Route 191 towards Natural Bridges National Monument.


The road on US 191 south of Moab enters San Juan County in Spanish Valley.  US 191 is one of the primary roadways in southeastern Utah and is well graded.  My next turn was west on UT 95 in Blanding but I did cross a significant junction with US Route 491 in Monticello which was part of US 666.


In Blanding I stopped along US 191 on Main Street to view the new US Bike Route 70 shield.  US BR 70 created in 2015 and is planned traverse from Colorado west to Utah.


South of Blanding I pulled off onto UT 95 westbound towards Natural Bridges National Monument.  UT 95 west to UT 275 is part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway.  The Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway is a 480 mile route in Colorado and Utah which tours various Native American cultural sites.


West of Blanding UT 95 enters open range territory (which will be ironically important in Part 18).  UT 95 descends to Big Canyon and Westwater Creek before making an ascent to the a high bluff where it meets UT 261 which is known as the Moki Dugway. 


In October of 2016 when I was traveling through Utah much of the land west of Blanding was fairly unremarkable in terms of designations.  In December of 2016 Bears Ear National Monument was declared which was meant to encompass much of the Bureau of Land Management held land west of Blanding to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  Bears Ears National Monument was shrunk by 85% in December of 2017, the original boundary can be viewed on this BLM Map.

Initial Bears Ears National Monument Map

Interestingly UT 95 is mistakenly signed as US 95 at the north terminus of UT 261.


Approximately 1 mile west from the UT 261 junction UT 95 meets UT 275.  I turned west on UT 275 which also carries the Trail of the Ancients to Natural Bridges National Monument.


UT 275 is an approximately 3.8 mile State Highway from UT 95 west to Bridge View Drive in Natural Bridges National Monument.  UT 275 was designated as a State Highway in 1975 and was apparently built over a 1960s County Highway.  The original road to Natural Bridges National Monument was a dirt track located off of UT 95 near the junction with modern UT 276.  The dirt road to Natural Bridges National Monument terminated near the Owachomo Natural Bridge.

Natural Bridges National Monument was Utah's first National Monument which was designated in 1908.  Natural Bridges National Monument protects the sandstone natural bridges of White Canyon.  White Canyon features several notable natural bridges on the one-way Bridge View Drive such as; Sipapu Bridge, Kachina Bridge, and aforementioned Owachomo Bridge.




The Sipapu Bridge in the first photo above is the 13th longest in the world at 225 feet in length.  In addition to the natural bridges one of the primary attractions is Native American ruins located in White Canyon.

From Natural Bridges National Monument I back tracked to UT 95 and headed to Blanding for the night.  Part 18 of this series can be found here:

2016 Fall Mountain Trip Part 18; Utah State Route 261 and the Moki Dugway

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