TRIP REPORT: Natural Bridge – Death Valley NP, CA 1-22-17
Even though a good amount of time has passed since my last post I am determined to finish up the posts related to this trip. Real life has been incredibly busy but things are starting to get back to a point where the adventure stories can begin rolling back out at a regular pace. So, lets get right to it. After leaving Badwater Basin we made our way back up the park road towards the Natural Bridge turn off. We didn’t know too much about it but figured it was right there and we should just check it out. The parking was at the end of a fairly bump dirty road leading away from the main park road.
Once we finished gathering our things for what we now knew would be only a few mile hike we set off down the well worn trail into the canyon. There were a good amount of people visiting this point so it may not be a hike for solitude but it is short and enjoyable nonetheless.
Once we walked up the short hill from the parking lot we found ourselves at the entrance of a fairly short but wide canyon. From here all you are doing is hiking start down the canyon until you can’t anymore and turning around. Therefore, there isn’t much you need to know in terms of route finding.
After just a short ways into the canyon you reach the trails namesake, Natural Bridge which is an arch carved into the canyon from years of flowing flood waters. The formation is pretty cool and offers a nice opportunity for pictures.
Despite the Natural Bridge being the namesake of the trail I think it actually only gets better after you pass under the arch. From here the canyon walls get taller and more dramatic with numerous cool rock formations to admire.
After another short amount of hiking up the canyon we reached a short dry fall section. From here there is a distinct shift in the types of rock you encounter which really makes it feel like a different hike. The dry fall wasn’t terribly steep and we were able to scramble up it without any difficulty. Many people turn around at this point and we didn’t actually see anyone else while we explored this more narrow section of canyon.
From the top of the fall there was another short section of trail to explore. This section doesn’t have much to it but it does offer a pretty cool environment to explore. It does a good job of making you feel like you are really somewhere else.
At the end of this section was another dry fall that you would need to navigate to go any further. Unfortunately this one was much more serious and would have required climbing equipment and a lot more time to accomplish. I would be curious to come back better prepared one day to explore whats on the other side.
So with that it was the end of the road for us and we turned around to head back to the cars. All in all it was a short hike but very enjoyable overall. It is a good objective to add to your trip to Death Valley if all you have is a short window of time to do something. After checking out Natural Bridge we had only one more stop in Death Valley before completing this leg of our trip, the Mesquite Sand Dunes. New blog post covering the dunes trip to follow!