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Negro Bill Canyon

Basics
Location:
Off Hwy 128 about 5 miles from downtown Moab
Length:
4 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Time:
3 -1/2 hours
Elevation Change:
330 feet
Season:
Spring or Fall

Description

Negro Bill Canyon was named after William Granstaff, a black prospector and rancher who grazed his cattle here during the late 1800s. It is a lovely canyon, cut into the Navajo Sandstone by a small, perennial stream that begins about six miles from the southern shore of the Colorado River. The trail winds along the stream through an oasis of cottonwood and willow trees, cut off from the desert above by towering sandstone cliffs. Like all good hikes, this one also has a reward at the end. Morning Glory Natural Bridge spans the head of one of Negro Bill’s side canyons at the end of the trail. According to Bureau of Land Management statistics, Morning Glory is the sixth largest natural bridge in the United States. It’s span is 243 feet.

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Details

Location:
Off Hwy 128 about 5 miles from downtown Moab
Length:
4 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Time:
3 -1/2 hours
Elevation Change:
330
Season:
Spring or Fall
Additional Details:

From the mouth of Negro Bill Canyon the trail begins by winding its way up the left side of the stream, then crosses the water four or five times. You may have to get your feet wet at some of the crossings, especially during the spring runoff. Wildlife is abundant along the canyon floor, and you can often see hawks soaring over the pink sandstone cliffs searching for prey. After 1.2 miles you will see a second large canyon intersecting Negro Bill on the right. Another less-used trail heads into this canyon, which you can follow if you feel like exploring. This is not the canyon containing Morning Glory Natural Bridge; however it does contain some nice campsites and picnic spots.

Continuing along the main trail for another 0.6 mile will bring you to the next major side canyon, again intersecting Negro Bill Canyon from the right. Here the path splits again, but this time the main trail turns right, into the side canyon, and proceeds southward toward Morning Glory Natural Bridge. The bridge is at the extreme end of the canyon, 0.4 mile from the junction.

Morning Glory Natural Bridge is unique because it was carved at the base of a waterfall, rather than across an open stream as most natural bridges are. The space between the bridge and the cliff over which the water once plunged is extremely narrow, only about 15 feet wide, but the span of the bridge is awesome. What a spectacle the waterfall behind the sandstone bridge must have been when the water was flowing in full force. Water seldom flows in the dry river bed now, but there is a small permanent spring near the base of the bridge’s eastern leg.

Pets are allowed, but must be kept under restraint.

Map + Directions


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