Up next from my Fall 2013 trip, I am posting the trip report for the side hike up a spur trail in Grand View Canyon to Grand View Arch. This is a smaller trip report, but it chronicles an important part of our time in Grand View Canyon. Coming up next in 1-2 weeks, I will be posting my report for Mummy Canyon. For now, here is the report for Grand View Arch, currently listed as #51 on the main page. Click here to read the report.
Today I finished up my report for Grand View Canyon out in the Saline Valley area. It is currently listed as report #50 on the main page of the site. The report includes 104 photographs and does not include the spur trail to Grand View Arch. Due to limitations on the amount of pictures in one report, I had to split that into its own report. I will have that follow-up report out by next weekend. Grand View Canyon was one of my trip highlights. But it does have its obstacles to contend with that can be quite challenging depending on a hiker’s skill level and comfort level. Click here to read the report.
As a side note, I also added 6 new pictures to the Wildlife Page, which includes 5 pictures of Bighorn sheep taken on our recent trip as well as 1 picture of a Furnace Creek bird.
I am happy to report that my Death Valley Natural Bridges Database Page has been fully updated and brought current with the 13 recognized natural bridges in the park. This revision includes some updated pictures and 3 photographs each of– Jensen Bridge, Keane Wonder Bridge, and Sidewinder Slot #1,Slot #2, and Slot #3 Bridges. Click here to read the report.
Our Natural Bridges Trip has wrapped up and we have returned home. Thus, I am going to begin the process of updating my Natural Bridges database and should have that current soon. I will post another update here when it is finished, as there are a lot of adjustments to make. After consulting with the appropriate people on park staff, here is what has been decided about Death Valley’s natural bridges.
- The current count (fully up-to-date after this trip) of all the natural bridges in the park is 13 natural bridges.
- The very large Grand View Canyon formation has been determined to be an arch and not a natural bridge. Grand View Arch is located above the canyon on a hillside. It is now considered to be (most likely) the largest arch in the park.
- The double crossing formation that I posted about (picture posted earlier in my entries) is considered to be a double arch and not a double natural bridge. That designation could possibly change if I can find a way to safely hike to it and get some close-up photos which prove that a canyon drains through the two crossing formations. But most likely, it will remain a double arch.
- Sidewinder Canyon gets credit for 3 major natural bridges, one in each slot. The reasons are clear as posted above. The smaller bridge in Slot #3 will not get credit as a major natural bridge. Personally, I went into Sidewinder Canyon thinking only 1 of the bridges there would be large and interesting enough to qualify as a major natural bridge, but the fact is that if any of the 3 larger bridges there were found in any other canyon they would be considered an important discovery. In the interest of complete accuracy with the count, these 3 must be included.
- The previous count of natural bridges within the park was 8. The 5 being added and receiving designation are Sidewinder Slot #1, Sidewinder Slot #2, Sidewinder Slot #3, Jensen, and Keane Wonder.
- I will reshuffle the order of the natural bridges posted in my database to try to reflect date and order of discovery to the best of my knowledge.
- Keep in mind the main difference between a natural bridge and an arch is that a natural bridge crosses a canyon, and during rainfall, water flows underneath a natural bridge. Arches are usually found above canyons on hillsides.
And that’s a wrap. Thanks to everyone who assisted in my research efforts and planning. This project has been a massive undertaking and I’m not giving up hope that a 14th confirmed natural bridge will be found in the park boundaries someday.
As part of my natural bridges research, one of the most time consuming aspects of this trip was spending parts of two days in Sidewinder Canyon. After fully exploring the area (for my 4th time), I came away with the conclusion that there are 3 larger natural bridges and 1 smaller natural bridge. My next task was to get great photography of the 3 larger bridges and then spend time trying to figure out (1) if each of these 3 bridges should be listed separately as a major natural bridge on my database, or (2) if all 3 should be combined on my database under the heading of Sidewinder Bridges. The smaller natural bridge is clearly a minor natural bridge and will not qualify for the database. The total amount of natural bridges will either read 12 or 14 total major natural bridges depending on what is decided. I’m not interested in inflating the numbers, but I am most interested in accuracy. Here is a brief look at each 3.
Sidewinder Slot #1 Bridge:
This natural bridge is a true canyon span connecting both walls together. However, the bridge is very high off the ground and can only be seen from one side, and not even from underneath due to the chaos of the canyon walls. It is unlikely that a hiker would be interested in hiking to this location just to see a small glimpse of this bridge.
Sidewinder Slot #2 Bridge:
This is probably the most scenic of the three and certainly is immense in size. It makes for great photos.
Sidewinder Slot #3 Bridge:
This bridge bears a striking similarity to the previous one, with an abandoned water channel circling around it. It has a door-like opening to walk through.
Minor natural bridge in Slot #3:
Today we were granted a very special privilege. Those who are following my trip are aware of my efforts to document all of the known natural bridges in the park. As it turns out, one of the little-known natural bridges is located in the Keane Wonder Mine area. But that area has been closed for 5+ years now with no reopening date on the horizon. Thankfully, the park service was kind enough to grant me access and guide me in to see Keane Wonder Bridge. I am very appreciative of their assistance in putting together my database of the bridges in the park, as my list would have been incomplete without this bridge. As the area remains closed to the general public, I will not be publishing a trip report on the Keane Wonder Bridge area at this time. I will add a couple photos to my Death Valley Natural Bridges page upon returning home. The Keane Wonder Mine area remains closed for good reason. I don’t want to write specifics online, but those reasons were explained to me and it seems to be a very wise decision for the time being. So please respect the closure, and don’t go searching for the bridge, because there are safety issues that many people are not aware of. I was likely the only hiker granted access since the area has been closed and I was guided around certain hazards on our way to the hidden location of Keane Wonder Bridge.
While hiking Grand View Canyon, I spotted a potential double arch high above the canyon. This double arch seems to be only visible from two spots in the entire canyon due to the high walls of the narrows which disguises the uppermost walls. This double arch appears to have a dry fall between the two arches and could possibly contain a small canyon draining through them. In the Spring, I hope to hike back into the Grand View area and possibly find a way to photograph the double arch up close (if it is safe to do so). If it turns out that a canyon drains through the double arch, then it would actually be a double natural bridge. But for now, it is considered to be an arch… and an amazing one at that.
In my opinion, there are 3 canyons in Death Valley that are unmatched for beauty when it comes to the length of narrows and what can be found there. Those 3 are Hidden Bridge Canyon, Big Fall Canyon, and Moonlight Canyon. In my trip report later, I will expand more on why I feel that way. After my hike on Day 3, I am adding Grand View Canyon in Saline Valley to that list. So I now have 4 canyons which I feel are all equal in beauty (as well as difficulty in seeing). Grand View Canyon has spectacular narrows. But like the other canyons I listed earlier, Grand View Canyon cannot be seen all in one day. That is because there are obstacles which require bypasses, as well as a possible requirement of hiking in from the top to see everything. Thus, I will be splitting up my Grand View Canyon plans into Lower, Middle, and Upper. On this hike, I only made it into the lower canyon. In February, I hope to make it into the middle canyon. But getting back to this trip, Grand View Canyon simply amazed us. In addition to the narrows, which will stun you when I showcase them later, Grand View Canyon has Grand View Arch. Grand View Arch is one of the most incredible arches in the park. It is located up on a hillside above the canyon wall. More information on the arch will be provided in my upcoming report. Here are a few teaser images from our day.
Well, I am currently running a few days behind on updates. But as they come through, you will understand why. We have been doing a lot. And everything has been incredible and amazing these past few days. For now, I will post most of the information from Day 2 and Day 3.
On Day 2, we took our Farabee’s rental Jeep out to Ubehebe Crater and the Eureka Sand Dunes. From there, we went up Dedeckera Canyon, which was a very interesting experience. My friend Mel had no issues going up the rock steps, but if I was driving, I wouldn’t have attempted them since I don’t have the experience. Next we continued up to Steel Pass and then down a few more miles to our camping spot for the night which was situated in the best spot for our hike the next day. Here are a few photos.
To kick off our Fall 2013 trip, we hiked out Lower Mummy Canyon through the short narrows to the spot where it dead-ends at a dry fall. Above the dry fall is the incredible Jensen Natural Bridge. While my picture below reveals where Mummy Canyon got its name, I’m not going to be releasing any pictures that reveal where Jensen Bridge got its name. Future hikers will have to figure that out for themselves. Jensen Bridge is a spectacular sight to behold. For now, I’m only posting one teaser image that shows my son and I below it. Jensen Bridge became the 9th natural bridge that I have visited in the park. Mummy Canyon & Jensen Bridge are hidden in plain sight within the park. The good news is that it looks like I have been authorized to release the location within my upcoming report.
For this trip, Stefan is now 15 months old. I am carrying him in a backpack carrier and he is wearing an infant bicycle helmet to protect his head in case of falls. Tomorrow, we are heading out to Saline Valley and will not return until Wednesday night. So my Day 2 and Day 3 updates will happen at that time. We have a lot to do out in Saline. I won’t get into it now, but I will say we rented from Farabee’s, which will likely become a feature of most upcoming trips so we can expand our hiking areas a bit.