Utah – Comb Wash, House on Fire, and Natural Bridges

April 7 – 10, 2014

After getting our fill of camping on the edge of a cliff in Gooseneck State Park, we continued north on Hwy 191 toward Blanding, Utah, and turned west on Utah 95 for 14 miles to arrive at Comb Wash.  Comb Wash is BLM land and it is free to boondock at this lovely spot.  We read about this location on another blog that we follow Wheeling It.  We have the same size rig as Paul and Nina, so I always feel confident following in their footsteps.  If they can do it, we can do it!  Plus, they always find amazing places.

Comb Wash campsite with views of Comb Ridge

Comb Wash campsite with views of Comb Ridge

We got a very large level site and set ourselves up so that our refrigerator was on the shady side.  This also gave me the necessary afternoon shade to enjoy sitting outside and watching the late afternoon sun light up beautiful colors on Comb Ridge.

Our view of Comb Ridge

Our view of Comb Ridge

Mike and Lucy get comfy for happy hour.

Lucy knows how to relax

Lucy knows how to relax

Nigh-night

Nigh-night

There are many wonderful hikes in this area, but one that we were particularly interested in was the hike to House on Fire.  This is a Puebloan ruin that looks like it is on fire when the sunlight hits it just right.  We read that late morning was the perfect time to catch the light.  What time is that?  We aren’t early morning people, but I figured that we would be doing good if we got to the trail head by 9:30 a.m.  That would give us plenty of time to hike the 1.5 miles to the ruins and still arrive by “late morning”.  I’m impressed that we actually did make it to the trail head at 9:30, but then I got so anxious about missing the perfect sun moment that we practically ran the mile and a half!  We got there way too early.

Mike and Lucy patiently wait for the sun to be right for my picture

Mike and Lucy patiently wait for the sun to be right for my picture

Finally, at about 11:15 am, the flames appeared.  It was definitely worth the wait.

House on Fire Puebloan ruins

House on Fire Puebloan ruins

House on Fire2 I don’t want to take away the magic for everyone, but I thought I would share a picture of what it looks like when it’s NOT on fire.

When the sun gets too high, the flames fade out

When the sun gets too high, the flames fade out

The sun doesn’t actually shine on the rocks.  They are always in the shade.  It’s a reflection of light at a certain angle that creates the magic flames.  We continued on the trail for another couple of miles and saw other cliff ruins, as well.  It was a good hike.

Dirt trail to House on Fire

Some of the trail is dirt

Some of the trail was sandy

Some of the trail is soft sand

Some of the trail was slickrock

Some of the trail is slickrock

Of course, we had to visit Natural Bridges National Monument.  Lucy couldn’t hike with us there, so she had to stay home.  There are 3 natural bridges at the park.  A natural bridge is made by the erosive action of moving water.  We hiked to Sipapu Bridge which is the second largest natural bridge in the world.  It also has the steepest trail to the canyon bottom in the park, and we felt it!

Sipapu Natural Bridge

Sipapu Natural Bridge

On the trail to Sipapu Natural Bridge

On the trail to Sipapu Natural Bridge

Several ladders on this trail help get you down the canyon

Several ladders on this trail help you get down the canyon

Beautiful view from the trail

Beautiful view from the trail

Climbing back up was the fun part.  Whew.

We're under the bridge

We’re under the Sipapu bridge

Huffing back up the canyon trail

Climbing back up the canyon trail with a little help in some places

We also hiked to Owachomo Bridge, the oldest and most delicate of the 3 bridges.  This was a short and easy hike.

Owachomo Natural Bridge from the trail head

Owachomo Natural Bridge from the trail head

Under the Owachomo Bridge

Under the Owachomo Bridge

We only stayed in Comb Wash a few nights, but we plan to return.  There are many more excellent hikes in this area that we have on our list!

Next up, Moab and Arches National Park.  Cheers!

16 thoughts on “Utah – Comb Wash, House on Fire, and Natural Bridges

  1. Love, love, love Natural Bridges. I’ve been there twice and hiked down to all the bridges. I want to go back and hike the whole canyon loop.

    House on Fire ruin is unique. It’s going on my bucket list!

    Thanks for the tips and spectacular photography.

  2. We, also, got to the House of Fire way too early. There were a few professional photographers there when we arrived and they explained how the lighting works. It was cool watching the “flames” change as the sun got higher. You got super pictures:)

    Love Natural Bridges. It was a tough eight mile loop hike down in the canyon because it was all loose sand and slight upgrade, The ranger suggested we park at the third bridge and walk the two miles across the mesa and then enter at the first bridge (thank goodness because it would have been a climb getting out after the sand hike) which was awesomely fun with all the ladders. We then hiked around through to the second and then the third bridge. It was a much nicer climb out at that point.

    Looking forward to Moab and Arches posts!!

  3. Awesome shots of House on Fire. I hope to make it there on our next time through. Natural Bridges also looks beautiful. Seems like you’re getting caught up 🙂

  4. Pingback: Crazy or Callous? | Live Laugh RV

  5. The house on fire is incredible! What a great shot. Seeing it not lit up does not ruin it. It only makes it that much more magical. Love it. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

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