10 natural bridges that’ll give you wanderlust

From a skinny Utah arch to a spectacular Chinese bridge, you’ll want to visit these natural wonders.
By Lukas Pilz and Alison Mann

Mother Nature is a wonderful architect, providing incredible spectacles for travellers to feast their eyes upon, and natural arches are one such collection of amazing masterpieces that never fail to amaze.

David Brandt-Erichsen of the Natural Arch and Bridge Society says: "I have found that having an arch as a goal for a trip always takes me to beautiful places, many of which I would never have thought to go to otherwise. The arches are the frosting on a very good cake."

We have spoken to the experts at the Society to compile a list of must-see arches – so enjoy, and get that passport ready!

More: 10 miraculous mountains that prove nature is crazy

The longest in the world

Visitors enjoy the Fairy Bridge natural arch in China, a natural wonder rarely visited by Westerners
Fairy Bridge, China © Gunter Welz

What: Fairy Bridge
Where: China
Special features: It has a span of 122m

This is a pretty special arch. It's the longest in the world by a long shot, and it's not a typical tourist destination. David Brandt-Erichsen says of the arch: "It is far off the beaten tourist track and very few Westerners have seen it. A NABS group staying at a hotel a few hours away in 2010 were the first party of Westerners ever to stay at that hotel!"

Desert arch

Aloba Arch natural bridge in Chad is the largest natural arch in the Sahara Desert
Aloba Arch, Chad © DEA/C.Sappa/Getty Images

What: Aloba Arch
Where: Chad
Special features: It's the largest in the Sahara Desert with a height of 122m and span of 76m.

Brandt-Erichsen says of this arch: "Aloba Arch is the largest and grandest in the Sahara Desert. It is truly one of the most magnificent natural arches in the world, but one of the most seldom seen."

Europe’s gem 

Pont d'Arc natural arch spans the Ardeche River in the Ardeche region of France and is Europe's largest
Pont d’Arc, France © sack/Getty Images

What: Pont d'Arc
Where: Southern France
Special features: This is the biggest in Europe, spanning 58m

This bridge crosses the Ardeche River in Southern France and is the largest natural arch in Europe. It is visited often as the river is popular for canoeing and kayaking.

The thinnest arch on Earth

The thinnest natural arch in the world is in Arches National Park, Utah, USA
The thinnest arch in the world is in Utah © bpperry/Getty Images

What: Landscape Arch
Where: Utah
Special features: The thinnest section is only 2m wide

This skinny arch is located in the Devils Garden section of Arches National Park, Utah and is 290ft long. The Arches National Park is home to a whole host of notable arches, including the Double Arch and Double O Arch.

The fairy-tale

Moon Hill, China is one of the most beautiful natural bridges in the world
Moon Hill, China © Sean Pavone/Getty Images

What: Moon Hill
Where: China
Special features: Exceptionally beautiful

This arch south of Yangshuo, China may not be the biggest but it certainly is beautiful. David says: "There are many arches in China that are larger than the 34m span, but none are more beautiful.”

The immortal bridge

Jiangzhou Immortal bridge, China is the second biggest in the world and has road running under it
The Immortal Bridge, China © Ray Millar/archesuk.com

What: Jiangzhou Immortal Bridge
Where: China
Special features: A road and river pass under

The Jiangzhou Immortal Bridge claims to be the second biggest in the world, reportedly 104m, but this has not been confirmed.

A remote bridge

The Forzhaga Arch natural arch in Libya is very remote as there is no road or trail in the area to reach it
Forzhaga Arch, Libya © Ray Millar/archesuk.com

What: Forzagha Arch
Where: Libya
Special features: There are no roads or trails to this arch

Brandt-Erichsen cites this arch as "the most spectacular in the Akakus Plateau of Libya." It sits near the Algerian border and visitors must hire a guide to visit the area. It spans 32m and has a height of 44m – measured by NABS member Ray Millar with a laser rangefinder.

The big bridge

Rainbow Bridge natural arch in the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, a region famous for the natural features
Rainbow Bridge, Utah © Danita Delimont/Getty Images

What: Rainbow Bridge
Where: Utah
Special features: Has a span of 74m and height of 75m

This magnificent bridge is made from Navajo sandstone. It is possible to visit this bridge by boat, or by backpacking through trails around the Navajo Mountains.

The scuba spot

The Azure Window natural sea arch on the Mediterranean island of Malta is a popular scuba diving location
The Azure Window, Malta © DavorLovincic/Getty Images

What: Azure Window
Where: Gozo, Malta
Special features: You can combine scuba diving with your arch visit

This limestone arch is near Dwejra Bay on Gozo Island, Malta and is a popular spot for scuba diving. The structure was created after two sea caves collapsed. Scientists expect the arch will disintegrate in a few years because pieces of rock have begun to fall from the underside.

The high arch

A climber on an arch in the Taklimakan Desert, China, the world's tallest natural arch
An arch in the Taklimakan Desert © Gordon Wiltsie/Getty Images

What: Shipton's Arch
Where: China
Special features: It has an estimated height of 366m and a span of 65m

This is the highest known natural arch in the world and has been named as such by Guinness World Records.

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