Sipapu is the largest and most spectacular of the three bridges in the Monument. It is considered middle aged, older than Kachina but younger than Owachomo. Its rounded opening and smooth sides are mute evidence of countless floods bearing scouring rocks and sand. This bridge, whose opening would almost house the dome of the United States Capitol, has taken thousands of years to form but will someday collapse and erode as part of the endless cycles of time and change.
We will never know the names given to the bridges by early inhabitants of this land. The Paiute referred to all bridges as mah-vah-talk-tump, translated today as under the horse's belly. While today we refer to this bridge as Sipapu, is has known several names in the last 100 years:President
This name was applied by Cass Hite in 1883. Hite operated a placer gold mine on the Colorado River and explored White Canyon from there.
Horace Long, who explored the region in 1904, renamed the bridge after his wife.
A Hopi term for the opening between worlds, the present name was given by William Douglas, who led a government survey party to the bridges in 1908, mapping the exact boundaries of the new national monument. Douglas thought that the ruins and rock art found in the area must be related to the Hopi people of northern Arizona.
A moderately strenuous trail descends from the parking area along Bridge View Drive to the base of the bridge. The trail has ladders, stairs, switchbacks, and short steep sections of slickrock along its route, and may be hazardous due to ice and snow during winter months.
Length: 0.6 mile (1 km) one-way
Did You Know?
Naturally occurring sandstone basins called “potholes” collect rain water and wind-blown sediment, forming tiny ecosystems where a fascinating collection of plants and animals live. Tadpole shrimp, fairy shrimp and many insects can be found in potholes.