• Owachomo Bridge

    Natural Bridges

    National Monument Utah

Natural Features & Ecosystems

Biological soil crust
Biological soil crust
NPS Photo by Neal Herbert
 

At Natural Bridges, visitors can see the remarkable effects of millions of years of erosion on a landscape of sedimentary rock. While the bridges themselves may be the area's most outstanding natural features, there are many others. Two in particluar intrigue both scientists and visitors: biological soil crust and potholes.

Biological soil crust is a living groundcover that forms the foundation of plant life throughout canyon country. This community of bacteria, lichens and mosses retains moisture, prevents erosion and makes critical nutrients available to plants.

Ephemeral pools (potholes) are naturally occurring basins in sandstone that collect rainwater and wind-blown sediment. These potholes harbor organisms that are able to survive long periods of dehydration, and also serve as a breeding ground for many high desert amphibians and insects.

Both of these communities are very vulnerable to human impacts.

Did You Know?

Pinyon Pine

Pinyon pines do not produce pine nuts every year. These delicious nuts can only be harvested every three to seven years. This irregular schedule prevents animals from adapting to an abundance of pine nuts and guarantees that at least some nuts will become new pine trees instead of a quick meal.