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Otho Natural Bridge & Mill Creek Canyon

Moab Winter Weekend: Arch Hunting & Ancient Petroglyphs
Saturday & Sunday, December 21-22, 2019

This weekend Diane and I headed over to Moab to search for arches and rock art, like we usually do at this time of the year. The weather can be unpredictable at the end of December, but we lucked out this weekend with comfortable hiking temperatures during the day and no snow or ice on the ground yet. I’ve wanted to visit Otho Natural Bridge for many years so I made that a priority this trip and we headed there first thing on Saturday morning. I had originally planned to hike up the North Fork of Mill Creek from the bottom to reach the arch, but we were stopped by a deep water crossing near the confluence of the two forks of Mill Creek. I had hiked this canyon before from the bottom without getting wet before, but it appears there are new beaver dams along the creek which have made that impossible now. We weren’t prepared to get wet this time in these temperatures, so we turned around and drove up into the Sand Flats Recreation Area to find another way down into the canyon instead. I’d never been up this far into this canyon before and the views and scenery were beautiful as we searched for a route into the canyon. I think I ended up liking this route into the canyon more than the one I had originally planned!

Following a trail through long grasses.

Grassy Trail

We passed by Funhouse Ridge Arch on our way into the canyon.

Funhouse Ridge Arch

Diane enjoys the view in the North Fork of Mill Creek.

North Fork View

After hiking up a short side canyon we arrived at Otho Natural Bridge.

Otho Arch

Someone created an interesting place to sit and relax on a bench in the alcove behind the arch.

Checkers

Another look at Otho Natural Bridge.

Otho Natural Bridge

Our views as we left the arch and started hiking back to the main canyon.

Leaving Otho

Otho Canyon

We spotted a small petroglyph panel and climbed up for a closer look.

Petroglyph Panel

These pictographs were found on the canyon wall nearby.

Pictographs

North Fork of Mill Creek

We both spotted this large petroglyph on a boulder at the same time.

Big Headdress Man

Following the trail through the canyon.

Back Up The Canyon

Canyon Towers

The view of the canyon and La Sal Mountains in the distance was pretty nice as we climbed back out.

Upper Canyon View

Climbing around on sandstone fins.

Fin Hiking

After returning my my Jeep at the trailhead we decided to go for one last hike on the Slickrock Bike Trail Practice Loop before heading back down to town. More clouds filled the sky this evening so I didn’t take many photos in the overcast conditions.

The beginning of the Practice Loop.

Practice Loop

The start of the foot trail to Echo Point.

Foot Trail

Overlooking Echo Canyon, a tributary of Negro Bill Canyon (now known as Grandstaff Canyon), from Echo Point.

Echo Canyon

After finishing up the short loop hike we waited around in the Sand Flats Recreation Area to see if there was going to be a nice sunset, but it was a bust. Then we headed back to town and had dinner at the Blu Pig before retiring to our hotel room for the night.

On Sunday morning we got a later start after breakfast since it was pretty cold out and then we headed back to Mill Creek to check out some petroglyphs for the rest of the morning and early afternoon.

Hello – Goodbye

Hello - Goodbye

Jazz Hands Panel

Jazz Hands Panel

While I have visited many of the petroglyphs panels we saw today previously, we did spot a couple new ones along the way, including this one.

New Sheep Panel

Four Sheep

Four Sheep

Out of Reach Panel

Out of Reach Panel

Stick-Figure Panel

Stick-Figure Panel

Map Panel

Map Panel

Shadow Panel

Shadow Panel

I think this is one of my favorite panels in the canyon. I’ve tried to climb up to this panel twice now and tried to access it from the rim above once without success, so I guess I’ll just have to settle with the view from below.

Wingspan Panel

Rainbow Guy

Rainbow Guy

Faded Flute Players

Faded Flute Players

Tiny Heads

Tiny Heads

Corner Panel

Corner Panel

Sheep Tracks Panel

Sheep Tracks Panel

Vertical Panel

Vertical Panel

Eagle Man

Eagle Man

The Big Panel. This is another of my favorites in the area. I can recall how excited I was the first time I spotted this one from across the canyon!

Big Panel

We had a great time hiking near Moab this weekend and are looking forward to returning to Arches National Park in a couple of days for our annual Christmas visit!

>> Otho Natural Bridge & Mill Creek Canyon Photo Gallery

3 Comments

  1. Dianne
    Dianne December 26, 2019

    Love the glyphs. Don’t know if I’d go over a cliff via a painted trail. Haha.
    Thanks for all the wonderful posts in 2019. Tell Diane she is a good companion to accompany you one some of your great adventures. My husband wouldn’t go with me out like that!

  2. Tom Hayes
    Tom Hayes December 30, 2019

    What is that up behind the “Eagle Man”, a mine shaft,ruin…?

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