Last week while in the Moab area, my traveling companion and I (and the poodle) went for a hike in Negro Bill Canyon. Yes, that’s really what it’s called. See? It was named for William Granstaff, a mixed-race cowboy who prospected and ran cattle in the canyon in the late 1870s. Considering that it used to be named something even less politically correct, Negro Bill Canyon doesn’t seem quite so bad. Regardless, it’s a gorgeous canyon carved out of the Navajo sandstone with a lovely (and rare for the desert) little perennial stream that renders the bottom of the canyon lush and green with a huge variety of plant life. The hike involves approximately 10 stream crossings and it’s an ideal outing for a hot summer day.
The highlight of the hike can be found at the end of the second side canyon on the right - Morning Glory Natural Bridge. This soaring rock formation is 243 feet long, making it the 6th longest natural rock span in the U.S. Some argue that it is not actually a natural bridge but an alcove arch. After seeing it, I would have to agree with the alcove arch assessment. But whatever you call it, it’s an impressive sight. Off to one side of the arch, a trickle of water runs down a crack in the wall and forms a pool under the arch.
As with the sunrise earlier that morning, the overcast skies made for less-than-ideal photography conditions overall, but the sun did manage to break through the clouds toward the end of the hike and we saw blue sky for the first time that day.
I’ve driven by the trailhead to this hike many, many times while visiting Moab and I’m so very glad I finally had the chance to explore the stunning beauty of Negro Bill Canyon. Click HERE to view many more photos and some videos from this hike.