Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Natural Bridge rock formations and waterfall

with 51 comments

A year ago today we stopped briefly for a second look at Natural Bridge on the Kicking Horse River in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park. The picture below shows the churning river as it flows downstream (toward you) from the falls.

But where, you might ask, is the natural bridge? A fair question. Here’s the stone bridge as I photographed it on our first visit two days earlier:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 9, 2018 at 4:53 AM

51 Responses

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  1. Those are some mighty rapid and churning waters. I’d hate to take a fall anywhere in those photos! The second image almost looks as if the water is moving downstream – away from us. This feeling of water moving opposite of what I think I am seeing happens to me a lot, not just in the mountains, but even here when I hike to the river. I think it has more to do with the landscape and what my brain perceives to be the direction of water flow.

    I really love the Native American names for areas and points of interest. “Kicking Horse” sounds wild and rebellious to me!


    September 9, 2018 at 7:34 AM

    • I’ll grant you, Kicking Horse sounds like an English translation of the native name for the river. In spite of the similarity to some native names, this one was actually in English from the beginning. Here’s what Wikipedia says: “The river was named in 1858, when James Hector, a member of the Palliser Expedition, reported being kicked by his packhorse while exploring the river. Hector named the river and the associated pass as a result of the incident.” So in this case it was the horse that was rebellious, not the namer of the river.

      The second picture does indeed give the impression that the water is flowing away from the viewer. I wasn’t initially sure myself, so I looked at my other photographs and found one with a broader view that confirmed the direction in which the water was flowing. Then in the text of this post I added the words “toward you” to make the direction clear.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2018 at 9:45 AM

      • That’s interesting about the name. I just made an assumption, since many names like that have Native American origins.


        September 9, 2018 at 10:57 AM

  2. Great pictures of churning waters! 🙂


    September 9, 2018 at 10:52 AM

    • We deal with our occasional flash flooding down here in central Texas, as is happening in some places today, but they really know about churning water up there in the Canadian Rockies, and they have great rock formations to go with the turbulent water.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2018 at 11:30 AM

      • They sure do up there.
        Here, just now, our creek is running nicely, gurgling over the rocks. Wonderful sight and sound. I couldn’t resist and went out in the rain to take videos.


        September 9, 2018 at 11:39 AM

  3. Wonderful post Steve and I was so interested in this because we have or had a natural bridge in Central Otago too – it was used in Maori pre-settler days and then by the settlers once they were shown the location by Maori. Your post prompted me to do an online search, not with much hope because years ago I tried to find out about this feature and couldn’t find much at all. But a great blog-post was done in 2014, if you’re interested its at: http://www.mikepole.com/2014/05/07/discovering-the-bridge-of-stone-the-ancient-route-over-the-kawarau-river-new-zealand/ Thanks for your lovely post and I’m excited to have found out more about our own natural bridge!


    September 9, 2018 at 3:05 PM

    • I’m glad this post prompted you to search for more information about your Otago counterpart, and even more, that you found what you were after. Let’s hope you visit the site now.

      I noticed what I think is an unintentional play on words in the linked article. After noting earlier that the difficult crossing is known not only as Natural Bridge but also as Chalmers Leap, the article says: “New Zealand is making leaps and bounds in creating and advertising long-distance walk/cycle-ways.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2018 at 3:55 PM

      • Ha! Yes, excellent play on words and the writer certainly doesn’t own up to it being intentional but I do wonder… well spotted Steve! I would love to visit the site sometime. I’ve stopped at that location years ago and I recall a very steep gravel lane descending in the general direction of where Chalmers Leap is indicated on the map. Funny how your post prompted this discovery; how one thing leads to another. 🙂


        September 9, 2018 at 4:26 PM

        • We could say that this post was a natural bridge to Otago’s natural bridge. Let’s hope the site’s not too dangerous for you to visit.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 9, 2018 at 5:53 PM

          • I’m so glad you did this post now as we’re in early spring – plenty of long days ahead of us in which to plan a visit. Reasonably long drive so needs a bit of forward planning. Looking forward to the trip already 🙂


            September 9, 2018 at 6:09 PM

  4. Very nice natural bridge.We have a natural dam at the Wahconah Falls not far from here.

    Steve Gingold

    September 10, 2018 at 4:11 AM

  5. That churning stream flowing toward the viewer is wonderful! Makes me wonder where you were standing? How close to the rushing water, and what you were standing on?

    Birder's Journey

    September 11, 2018 at 6:21 PM

    • As much as it would be fun to say I was hanging from a tree branch or leaning out from the gondola of a balloon, the truth is more mundane. I don’t remember the specifics but I think it must have been a footbridge over the river. Footbridges were common at rugged sites like this one so people could continue along paths to other scenic places.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 11, 2018 at 7:19 PM

      • The effect is fabulous!

        Birder's Journey

        September 11, 2018 at 7:20 PM

        • I hadn’t thought about the possibility that viewers might wonder where I was standing. I can see now how that implicit question would make the picture more adventuresome. Glad you enjoyed it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 11, 2018 at 7:24 PM

  6. The rocks are beautiful, the water flow is impressive, and the combination of the two must have been memorable, to say the least. But I’m most taken with those little trees in the first and last photos. They look like bonsai, and they’re the perfect, delicate accent to all that heft and force. What a wonderful place that must have been to visit; I’m glad to see it through your photos.


    September 12, 2018 at 10:22 PM

    • Those smaller trees growing out of the rocks show once again how tenacious life can be. Natural Bridge is indeed a great place to visit, which meant that hundreds of other people had the same idea. As at other sites, I had to work to get views with no tourists in them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2018 at 7:52 AM

  7. The bridge is only bridgeable on occasion!


    September 19, 2018 at 5:32 PM

    • Does the water sometimes rise high enough to cover the bridge?

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2018 at 6:39 PM

      • Did I misinterpret your photos again? I thought they showed the same bridge, once under water, once clear.


        September 19, 2018 at 8:32 PM

        • The first picture included the waterfall and some rock formations but not the natural bridge. That’s why I added the third photograph.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 19, 2018 at 9:00 PM

          • My bad, Steve. I thought it might show the bridge unter water!


            September 19, 2018 at 9:29 PM

            • Well, without a lot of context, multiple interpretations are possible. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman says that the mind is very good at inventing possible explanations.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 19, 2018 at 10:23 PM

              • I think we always try to make sense of what we see or hear.


                September 19, 2018 at 10:53 PM

                • We do. That can be positive, allowing us to quickly figure out what’s likely to be happening. Formulating a quick conjecture can also be negative, as the mind is tempted to draw a conclusion based on personal preferences but not enough evidence. The latter is obvious in politics.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 20, 2018 at 4:50 AM

  8. That looks like a powerful river! I remember sketching along a river in California many years ago. Sitting on the boulders next to it, you could feel as well as hear all that water roaring past. Kinda scary, really.


    October 11, 2018 at 11:27 PM

    • You’re right about the power of this river, which did indeed roar through the falls and under the natural bridge.

      Hard to believe it’s been 13 months since we were there—and a lot longer than that for you since you sketched in California.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2018 at 7:58 AM

  9. […] If you’d like to see a natural stone bridge, Steve Schwartzman posted an excellent photo of “Natural Bridge on the Kicking Horse River in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park”. See his post  Natural Bridge rock formations and waterfall […]

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