Category Archives: 2. STATES

Hawaii: A Few Big Island Arches

By Nick Terzakis

Pat and I visited the Big Island of Hawaii to do some arch hunting and snorkeling. The first day I drove from the Kailua-Kona International Airport: 2.2 miles north on State Hwy 19 there is a lava tube on the right which contains a natural tunnel (4Q-812026-2188066, estimated 50 feet);

and a lava bridge (4Q-811905-2188044, estimated 30 feet);

and another lava bridge (4Q-811901-2188039, estimated 20 feet):

On the way to Hilo we visited some beautiful waterfalls such as Kamaee Falls, Umauma Falls and Akaka Falls.

The second day I drove west to some more beautiful waterfalls such as Rainbow Falls, Peepee Falls and Wailuku Falls. Next, I drove south on State Hwy 11 to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and then down the Chain of Craters Road to the end of the road and walked to the cliffline to see Holei Arch (5Q-279568-2134773, estimated 50 feet):

On the way back up on the Chain of Craters Road I found a natural arch at a pullout on the south side of the road and call this “Pele’s Eye” (5Q-266481-2142225, 4 feet). This arch is 14.6 mile from the end of the Chain of Craters Road or 0.4 miles past  a road to Mauna Ulu:

We then visited the Kilauea caldera which is amazing.

The third day I drove State Hwy 19 to Hapuna Beach and hiked south to M’s Arches (5Q-203756-2212281, estimated 4 feet and 8 feet), a nice double sea arch:

You can also reach this arch from Beach 69 (Waialea Beach) or a 4WD. The next area we visited was Kuki’o Beach which has two sea arches, each 4 feet in size (4Q-814140-2194122):

From State Hwy 19 turn west onto Kaupulehu Road and then turn left on a road (Aina Kaha Pl.), turn right before a gate up ahead and get a visitors pass from a guard. Go back to the gate and show the pass and the road will soon end at a parking area. Walk the trail to the beach. The last area was Noio Point which has two arches (5Q-911379-276932, estimated 5 feet and 20 feet). There are a dozen sea arches near Honaunau Bay that can be seen if you take a snorkel boat tour. Aloha!

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Dave Kennedy, member of the Natural Arch and Bridge Society Board of Directors and former editor of its newsletter, SPAN, wrote this article about his trip to Rainbow Bridge for the publication Our Backyard in Glade Park, Colorado, September 6, 2017.

Lake Powell attracts a couple of million visitors to its blue waters and scenic red sandstone surroundings every year and about 100,000 of them make the trip to see Rainbow Bridge. This natural rock span, listed on Google Earth as the world’s largest natural bridge, though it is not, sits in Utah in a branch of Forbidding Canyon about 50 miles up-lake from Glen Canyon Dam.

The boat ride from Wahweap Marina to Forbidding Canyon, home of Rainbow Bridge, crosses Warm Creek Bay and Padre Bay, both offering outstanding photographic opportunities.

The Natural Arch and Bridge Society has a page on their website at naturalarches.org which lists the “Big 19” arches and bridges in the world known to have a span greater than 200 feet. The Society seems to be the only body to set a protocol for measuring arches, which gets to be very technical for lay people. In short, span is defined by NABS as the horizontal extent of unsupported rock and is the organization’s basis for ranking the world’s arches and bridges. The Big 19 shows that Rainbow Bridge, spanning 234 feet, is the 6th longest natural bridge in the world and the 11th longest arch in the world (all natural bridges are arches, but not all natural arches are bridges). Its height is listed at 245 feet, making it also one of the tallest natural arches in the world. The five longest natural bridges listed in the Big 19 are all located in China. Of the Big 19, nine are located in China, nine on the Colorado Plateau and one is in the Sahara Desert of northeastern Chad, Africa.

In the NABS nomenclature, Rainbow Bridge is classified as a meander bridge formed in Navajo sandstone. That geologic stratum dates to the Jurassic Period from about 145 million years ago to about 200 million years ago. The bridge soars in a huge arc over the canyon and its intermittent stream below. The reaches of Bridge Canyon stand sentinel behind it and the entire scene is watched over by 10,000’ Navajo Mountain in the background. This is an outstanding example of the fabulous and fascinating landscapes of the American southwest.

Rainbow Bridge spans 234 feet and towers 245 feet from the ground, making it the sixth longest natural bridge known to exist in the world. About 100,000 people make the trip to Rainbow Bridge National Monument every year, most by boat but many others by backpacking one of two trails from Navajo Mountain.

President William Taft designated 160 acres that includes Rainbow Bridge as a National Monument in May 1910, less than a year after it was first documented by Anglos, though it could have been seen earlier by explorers who didn’t bother to record their having seen it. There is evidence of Native American habitation and visitation that dates to ancestral puebloan times and the bridge is held sacred by Navajos, Paiutes and today’s pueblo cultures. The native name for the bridge translates to “rainbow turned to stone.”

The native religious reverence for Rainbow Bridge has generated controversy over the years, which has been resolved to no one’s complete satisfaction by the placement of boulders and signs to discourage visitors from approaching or walking under the bridge. The National Park Service asks visitors to respect the site’s traditional religious nature by not doing so, but a lawsuit in prior years established that the NPS may not ban people from going under the bridge and that the current voluntary request does not constitute a ban.

The National Park Service asks visitors to Rainbow Bridge to voluntarily refrain from approaching or walking under the arch out of respect for Native American religious traditions.

Another controversy surrounding Rainbow Bridge comes from the story of its Anglo discovery. Two parties had been trying for a few years to locate the bridge based on tales told by Native Americans. One was led by Byron Cummings, a dean at the University of Utah and another by John Wetherill, he of the famous Wetherills that discovered Mesa Verde. At length the two parties combined for the trip that led to the finding of the bridge in 1909. Heated arguments ensued as to whether the discoverer should be Cummings or Wetherill. At least one source lists them in an epic weasel-out as co-discoverers.

Other controversies involving this natural bridge include scientific values, access, protection and cultural significance, all of which have shifted over time and are probably still shifting today.

There are two official ways to get to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. You can take a boat or you can hoof it. Private boats are allowed to enter Forbidding Canyon and tie up at the courtesy dock at the trail head for the bridge. The dock has a restroom but no other services are to be had there. Commercial boats are run by the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area concessionaire from Wahweap Marina. Trips take all day and, at the time we went, cost $125 per person.

Commercial and private boats can tie up at the courtesy dock at the trail head for Rainbow Bridge. There are no services at the dock other than a restroom.

The distance of walk from the dock to Rainbow Bridge depends on the level of Lake Powell. When we went the walk was about 1.25 miles each way. The trail ends at a viewing area near the bridge and there are signs requesting that visitors respect traditional religions and do not approach or walk under it. The concessionaire staffer on our trip yelled at one tourist to return to the viewing area and not go farther.

The hike to Rainbow Bridge from the courtesy dock is about 1.25 miles at the lake level when I was there. The trail brings visitors to many outstanding views of the magnificent natural bridge.

The boat ride is about two hours each way and leaves Wahweap Bay on the way to skirting Antelope Island on the 50-mile trip up-lake. Warm Creek Bay and Padre Bay, Lake Powell’s largest bay, offer up their fantastic scenery along the way.

The boat ride from Wahweap Marina to Forbidding Canyon, home of Rainbow Bridge, crosses Warm Creek Bay and Padre Bay, both offering outstanding photographic opportunities.

The tour travels by several good viewpoints of Tower Butte which was a landmark for travelers long before the reservoir came into being.

Tower Butte, whose top levels off some 1400 feet above lake level, stood as a landmark for overland travelers long before Lake Powell existed. Many visitors take helicopter tours which land on the butte.

Observant passengers may see other small arches in the sandstone shoreline of the lake and photo opportunities abound.

The picturesque shoreline of Lake Powell enthralls with scenery, such as this small arch seen on a boat tour to Rainbow Bridge.

Not long after the boat enters Forbidding Canyon, 25-foot Rainbow Canyon Jughandle arch comes into view high on the right.

Rainbow Canyon Jughandle arch spans 25 feet and can be seen not long after entering Forbidding Canyon by boat on the way to Rainbow Bridge.

The blue water contrasting with the sandstone canyon walls make the entire trip a photographer’s paradise. Online information about the tours and reservations can be found at lakepowell.com.

The other official way to get to Rainbow Bridge is to hike from Navajo Mountain by way of either of two long trails. The northern route is 32.7 miles roundtrip and involves about 7000 feet of elevation change. It has the advantage of being less steep, though harder to get to, and it also goes near lovely Owl Bridge. Its 61-foot span will have you digging your camera out of your backpack.

The southern trail from Navajo Mountain is shorter at 24.5 miles roundtrip but much steeper, with over 8400 feet of elevation change. Distances and elevations for both trails are taken from the alltrails.com website.

Both trails are entirely within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation except for the little distance they are in Rainbow Bridge National Monument. As such, permits from the Navajo are required and can be obtained from the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department in Window Rock, Arizona (928-871-6647) or from their website at navajonationparks.org.

Hikers with shuttle capabilities could walk in on one trail and back the other, and by making prior arrangements with the concessionaire at Wahweap Marina, hikers can ride out on one of the boat tours to the marina.

The trails are not maintained and may be subject to flash flooding, hot, dry conditions in the summer and severe cold and wind in the winter. There are not many trail signs but the trails are mostly marked with small stone cairns. These routes are not recommended for inexperienced or casual hikers.

The Lake Powell area of Utah and Arizona envelops a treasure trove of nature’s wonders for visitors of all interest levels from the casual to the intrepid. Visiting Rainbow Bridge will surely be one of the highlights of anyone’s trip to the area.

Vultee Arch Update

David Kennedy reports that some NABS website information about Vultee Arch near Sedona in Yavapai County, AZ, was out of date [it was updated accordingly today]. The website had reported that the trail went only to a viewpoint (shown below) and that to access the arch itself required significant bushwhacking.

Vultee Arch viewpoint

A hike there Feb. 7, 2017, revealed that a trail now goes up to a point next to the lintel of the arch, where the photo below was taken, so there is no longer any bushwhacking involved. From that point one can get onto the lintel and/or go down behind the arch to get beneath it. It is a steep descent to the lintel which Dave declined to take because the rock was wet at the time.

Vultee Arch lintel

A GPS reading at the photo vantage point was 12S 429812.28 E 3866826.42 N, very close to that reported on the website.

Vultee Arch

Vultee Arch from below. All photos courtesy Dave Kennedy.

 

 

Valley of Fire Arch Rally

The October 2016 NABS Valley of Fire Arch Rally in Nevada was, as usual, filled with fun and camaraderie. Presented here is a slide show of photos taken by NABS President Larry Beck. Click on any image to start the slide show. The title of each image in the slide show provides the UTM WGS84 coordinates (the NABSQNO number) in zone 11S, and where present the name and catalog number of the arch. Catalog numbers refer to the Arch Hunter Books Valley of Fire series (available to NABS members).

Portland Head Lighthouse Arch, Maine

By Nick Terzakis

Maine is not known for natural arches but there were four small ones reported in the Journal of Natural Arch Discoveries.

This October, Pat and I  drove up the Maine coast stopping at some nice lighthouses. At the Portland Head Lighthouse in South Portland, ME you can see Portland Head Lighthouse Arch (ME-4), which is just south of the lighthouse.

me-portland-head-lighthouse

me-4-portland-head-lighthouse-arch

Directions: In Portland, drive State Street south across the bridge into South Portland and turn left onto Cottage Road. Turn left into Ft. Williams State park and head to the lighthouse parking lot. You can see the arch to the south. Walk the trail south along the fence then go uphill to the top of the cliffs. Go left on a faint trail which goes on a pebble beach, and go right around the rocks to see the arch (only if it is low tide). The arch has a span of three feet.

Unfortunately nearby Portland Head Arch (ME-2) has fallen. It had a span of four feet. A scan of my old Polaroid photo is below.

me-2-portland-head-arch-fallen

 

Stornetta Public Lands

By Nick Terzakis

SPAN Editor Dave Kennedy gave me a tip about an area up the Northern California Coast called Storenetta Public Lands that has some sea arches. This area was once a dairy farm owned by Clover Creames based in Petaluma, CA. So I drove up to the area near the Pt. Arena lighthouse, parked at the Stornetta Public Lands trailhead, and walked the trail along the bluffs. It was quite windy. Coordinates given are from Jay Wilbur’s GIS section of the NABS website; sizes are estimates.

Off shore on a island is CA-85, Pt. Arena Arch, at 10S-43670-4310290, 30×35 feet, Photo 1:

Stornetta 01

 

Just east of CA-85 are two other sea arches, 10×8 and 20×15 feet, Photos 2 and 3:

Stornetta 02

Stornetta 03

 

South on the trail can be seen an island called “Sea Lion Rock” which contains two arches, 10S-436670-4310055, 30×20 feet, and 10S-436730-4309980, 20×5 feet, Photos 4 and 5:

Stornetta 04

Stornetta 05

 

Further south along the trail near some trees is a sinkhole that has a sea arch with a pillar inside it, 10S-437040-4309680, 15×8 feet, Photo 6:

Stornetta 06

 

The trail soon crosses a creek, then goes up hill, and then goes around an agricultural conservation easement which is private property. The trail turns left onto a road and then goes right through a gated fence and follows the fence to the bluffs. On the bluffs on the private property side you can see an arch, 10S-436795-4309005, 10×8 feet, Photo 7:

Stornetta 07

 

Go south along the bluffs to the first  rock outcropping to find a nice arch, 10S-436805-4308560, 30×15 feet, Photo 8:

Stornetta 08

 

To the left is another sea arch, 10×5 feet, Photo 9:

Stornetta 09

 

The second rock outcropping has 3 sea arches, one of which is a double, 30×15, 15×25, 25×40/30×20 feet, Photos 10-12:

Stornetta 10

Stornetta 11

Stornetta 12

 

The next rock outcropping is The Hitch’n Post, 10S-436855-4308455, 20×40 feet, Photo 13:

Stornetta 13

 

Below the view point of The Hitch’n Post is another sea arch, 10×40 feet, Photo 14:

Stornetta 14

 

South along the bluffs is a sea arch with seaweed growing inside it, 10×30 feet, Photo 15:

Stornetta 15

 

Further south in a cove is sea arch which was the last one I saw, 10×8 feet, Photo 16:

Stornetta 16

Yellowstone Natural Bridge

By Robert Robinson

I just got back from a trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone, and, of course, I made a point of hiking to Yellowstone Natural Bridge (NABSQNO 12T-543257-4930475).

A loop trail completely encircles the area where the bridge is, including going to the back side of the bridge from how I first saw it. At one point the trail goes near the top of the bridge and it was while I was standing there looking at the top of the bridge that I made an interesting discovery for myself.

The Natural Bridge of Yellowstone is actually a double bridge. The informational bulletin board down below the bridge mentions its height and span at about 51 feet and 29 feet respectively, but doesn’t say anything about it’s being double.

What I discovered is that behind the span that I first saw when hiking to the bridge there’s a good-sized crack that goes all the way through separating this front span from a second span that has a tree growing on it.  As you can see from the first photo below, the front span has a rather narrow width and is almost pointed on top, while the second span is wider and more squared off.  To get the photo of the top of the double bridge, I was standing up against the “Keep Off the Bridge” sign that the Park Service placed to one side of the bridge to keep visitors from walking on top or across the spans.

In Vreeland’s Nature’s Bridges and Arches Volume 19 he mentions the double nature of this waterfall-type natural bridge and gives the widths of the two lintels as 2 feet and 5 feet.

Yellowstone Natural Bridge double spanThe photo above shows the double nature of the span. The photo below shows the view from the standard approach.

Yellowstone Natural Bridge

 

Noyo Headlands Park, CA

By Nick Terzakis

This past Memorial Day, Pat and I drove up to Fort Bragg, CA and stopped at Noyo Headlands Park which is a newly opened park. The city bought the land that used to be the the old Georgia Pacific Lumber Company and made some walking trails along the bluffs with some beautiful overlooks. The first area we visited was the southern entrance to the park which can be reached from State Hwy 1.

We turned west onto Cypress St. in Fort Bragg and parked at the end of the road. We walked the trail west then north to Johnson Rock. On the way is CA-209, Skip’s Punchbowl (10S-429814-4364940, span 15′ x height 20′):
CA-209 Skip's Punchbowl
The last area we visited was the northern entrance to the park which can be reached from State Hwy 1. We turned west onto Elm St. in Fort Bragg and parked at Glass Beach. We walked the trail west then south to Otsuchi Point. Just before reaching Otsuchi Point there are some steps made from logs that go down to a beach.

At the left side of the beach is CA-208, Glass Beach Arch (span 3′ x height 3′):

CA-208 Glass Beach Arch

Back on the trail to Otsuchi Point are 4 more sea arches as follows.

Skeleton Key Arch (span 3′ x height 6′):
Skeleton Key Arch

Island Arch (span 2′ x height 4′):Island Arch
Cavity Arch (left opening span 10′ x height 14″ and right opening span 2′ x height 14′):
Cavity Arch

Otsuchi Point Arch (span 3′ x height 3′):
Otsuchi Point Arch

The Top of the Crown

By Stan Wagon
Silverthorne, Colorado
stanwagon.com

I learned about Crown Arch (NABSQNO 12S-681690-4333545)  in Mee Canyon (west of Grand Junction, Colorado) from Bob Fagley’s comprehensive site Bob’s Arches, and visited it twice in May 2010 and 2012. As often happens, the very first picture (above) was the best (showing the classic view from below).

My wife Joan Hutchinson and I approached it that first time via a long and complicated route, but exited in a more straightforward way and it is the latter route that I used on the two trips since. In 2012 Jonathan Kriegel, Dave Blakeslee, and I visited Crown and also Two Feathers and Will Minor Arches. These two visits to Crown made me really want to check out the top.

On Sunday, May 1, 2016, Bill Briggs and I went in with ropes and gear to see what might be accomplished from the top of the arch. We had hoped to do this on Saturday, but the road was too muddy due to a huge rainfall on Thursday. It was fine on Sunday after a dry night.

We found the top of the arch with no difficulty after just a little over two hours of hiking from the parking spot at the gate, about three miles before the official Rattlesnake Arches Parking spot. We hiked down the road for about a kilometer, and then turned left on old roads to get to the arch. In fact, one should just beeline it to the old road system from the parking area, and that is what we did on return, which took a little under two hours for the approximately five mile trip.

From the top of the arch the angle looked steep so we decided not to try and go lower and then climb it, but just to work on photography. To that end, I rappelled into it from a solid small tree anchor, but Bill also put me on belay on our second rope so I could stop anywhere for photography. I went down about 70% of the way to the bottom. I think now that this would be climbable from the bottom, but talk is cheap. I had one jumar with me and getting back up with the help of that was a triviality: so much easier than the old-school technique of prusiking.

Photos

Bill checks out the top of the Crown:

Crown Arch

Looking down the Crown from the top:

Crown Arch

Looking down from a little below the top:

Crown Arch

The top of the arch is guarded by a pig:

Crown Arch

Looking across Mee Canyon after descending a little bit on rappel:

Crown Arch

A panorama from three frames of the upper part of the Crown. This was the sort of shot I was looking for. It is an unusual view of the Crown’s interior:

Crown Arch

The whole Crown from below:

Crown Arch

Looking up Mee Canyon from my low point inside the Crown:

Crown Arch

Here is our GPS track superimposed on a Google Earth image. The canyon north of “Lap 1” is Rattlesnake Canyon.

Crown Arch route

 

NABS Presidents’ Day Arch Rally, February 2016, Arizona & California

Click on any image to start slide show.