Natural Bridges National Monument protects some of the finest examples of ancient stone architecture in the southwest. The monument
is located in southeast Utah on a pinyon-juniper covered mesa bisected by deep canyons of Permian age Cedar Mesa Sandstone. Where meandering streams cut through
the canyon walls, three natural bridges formed: Kachina, Owachomo and Sipapu. At an elevation of 6,500 feet above sea level, the Monument is home to a wide variety of
plants and animals. These formations are not as delicate as the ones at Arches National Park. They are also water-carved in Cedar Mesa Sandstone rather than
wind-carved in Entrada Sandstone.
The Horsecollar Ruin Site is a major attraction at Natural Bridges, and one of the best-preserved ancestral Puebloan sites in the area. Named because the doorways to two structures resemble horsecollars, the site was abandoned more than 700 years ago. Its remarkable state of preservation, including an undisturbed kiva with the original roof and interior, is likely due to the isolation of Natural Bridges: few visitors ever made the journey down these canyons.
Text from Sangres de Cristo website.
From underneath, Sipapu Bridge is overwhelming, arching 220 feet and spanning 268 feet. An unmaintained, sometimes sandy, sometimes rocky trail follows the wash under the natural arch to Deer Canyon, where beyond, Horsecollar Ruin occupies a southeast-facing alcove. A scramble up slickrock brings you to a fragile, ancient village. However inviting, these fascinating shelters should be approached carefully. Entering a ruin, walking on walls or roofs, or leaning on walls hastens destruction of these magnificent dwellings. As new archaeological techniques are developed, more information about the mysterious, long-ago vanquished denizens may be revealed and shared. People left this area around the year 1270. The dry Utah air has preserved these ruins well, and if you look closely at the mortar, you may see the builder's fingerprints.
Horsecollar Ruin features a rectangular kiva and two granaries with unusual doors. Instead of rectangular openings, the doors are oval with very smooth mortar, hence the name "horsecollar." The rectangular kiva, with a nearly intact roof, is typical of the ancient Kayenta culture. Scrambling down to the wash makes you appreciate the former residents' agility and wonder how young children survived.
Text from Cyberwest Magazine website.