Sipapu Bridge

A broad, stone bridge with clouds overhead.
Sipapu Bridge

NPS/Jacob W. Frank


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:

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.


Height: 220 feet (67 meters)
Span: 268 feet (82 meters)
Width: 31 feet (9.5 meters)
Thickness: 53 feet (16 meters)



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    Last updated: March 31, 2018

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