Clara Bernheimer Natural Bridge

NABSQNO 12S 586417 4082468 Arizona      MAP

Clara Bernheimer Natural Bridge is not a natural bridge, but a very large alcove arch located in the southern canyons of Hunt's Mesa. Boasting a span of 140 feet, it is the third largest natural arch in Arizona. A plaque installed at the base of the arch reads as follows:

Clara Bernheimer Natural Bridge
Discovered June 8, 1927 by the
VI Bernheimer Expedition of the
American Museum of Natural History
New York

John Weatherill
Ezekiel Johnson

Charles L. Bernheimer

The arch was named after the expedition leader's wife, although Bernheimer himself was unable to reach the arch until several years later. The route to the arch involved a 60-foot pitch where ropes were needed, and only John Weatherill actually made it to the arch during the discovery expedition. The plaque was installed in 1937. The arch is so remote, so difficult to find, and so difficult to reach, that during the 60 years following its discovery fewer than 60 people are known to have visited the arch.

Then in the early 1990's, Kayenta guide Bill Crawley discovered from the air a possible route to the arch that would not require ropes. The route was first proven on the ground in 1992 when four Directors of the Natural Arch and Bridge Society (Jay Wilbur, Diane Bingham, Bob Moore, and David Brandt-Erichsen) were led to the arch by Navajo guide Wilbert Yazzie, following Crawley's directions. Although the hiking route is only about a mile one way, it is well hidden and circuitous and involves a lot of rock scrambling. It would have been almost impossible to discover the route except from the air. On May 4, 1993, a group of 31 NABS members reached the arch via this new route. The arch remains rarely visited, however.

This arch is within the boundaries of Monument Valley Tribal Park and a Navajo guide is required for any visitation [DBE photo].

Go to next Monument Valley feature - Eye of the Dove

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The Natural Arch and Bridge Society