One of nature’s wonders, Ayres Natural Bridge is one of the few natural bridges in the world that has water flowing under it. We have seen many bridges like the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, the Skyway Bridge in Sarasota Florida, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan Bridge in New York, but never a natural bridge like this one. It was definitely phenomenal. The bridge is part of the Casper Sandstone Formation which was laid down during the Pennsylvanian Age more than 280 million years ago. Time and water eroded a hole in the rock allowing the stream not known as LaPrele Creek to flow through.
The bridge arch above the water is 50 feet in height and 100 feet long. It sets in an amphitheater of red sandstone walls with tree-shaded picnic grounds for a pleasant visit.
Indian lore tells of the time that an Indian brave was struck by lightning near the bridge and was killed instantly. His people believed that an evil sprint, “King of Beasts,” lived beneath the bridge and had swallowed the life of this warrior. From then on, the Indians would not go near the bridge. It became a sanctuary for people fleeing the Indians. If they could make it to the bridge, they would be safe because the Indians wouldn’t follow for fear of the evil spirit.
In 1882, Alva Ayres, an early day freighter and bull whacker, settled on the land which included the bridge on LaPrele Creek. Alva’s son, Andrew Clement Ayres, gave a deed for 15 acres of land to Converse County on May 18, 1920. This land included the bridge and was to be known as Ayres Natural Bridge Park. In later years, Glen Edwards donated more land to the country to be added to the park.
The old two-story cement building near the entrance to the park was built by the North Platte Valley Irrigation Company in the early1900’s. When completed it was to be a powerhouse that would furnish electricity to pump water out of the North Platte River for 40,000 acres north of the river. LaPrele Dam, located two miles south of the powerhouse, would have supplied water for the installation. The company went bankrupt before the power project was completed. Ayres Natural Bridge Park is located four miles south of Interstate 25 and the end of Country Road #13. The Natural Bridge interchange is 11 miles west of Douglas, Wyoming at Exit 151.
All of the above information was on a board in the parking area of the park. I thought it was very informative and wanted to share it before I shared our visit. As you may have seen in some of my other posts, I love bridges and was so happy to see this one in person while visiting the area in September of 2018. I have to admit though, that I did not even know it was there until our wonderful waitress at Branding Iron – C85 told us about it (great food by the way). After driving into the park, I wish I had given her a better tip, lol. I mean we tipped her well, but this was definitely a highlight of our trip and I can’t think her enough.
It was phenomenal, and the fact that it was natural, makes it even more amazing. Ayres Natural Bridge Park was also very peaceful. We set there for quite a while just taking in the natural beauty while sharing a little snack. We spoke to another couple who were traveling from Montana to Nebraska and stopped to check it out. They had been there before, but it had been many years. Happily it seemed to look pretty much the same as it did the last time they visited in the ’90s.
Ayres Natural Bridge Park is free to visit. There is a small campground in the park, as well as open picnic areas and covered tables. It is open from April 15 through October 15, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with registered campers allowed to stay overnight. No pets are allowed in the park. I definitely want to visit again. Here is a link to a website with more information.
Ayres Natural Bridge Visitor Information
208 Natural Bridge Rd, Douglas, WY
Open from April 15th to Oct 15th
Mon-Fri 8 am – 8 pm
Take I-25 to Exit 151, about 10 miles west of Douglas
Turn south and follow the signs.
No ADA Access
No Pets 🙁
No Phone Service
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