One of nature’s wonder, Ayres Natural Bridge is one of the few natural bridges in the world that has water flowing under it. 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.
Indian lore tells of the time that an Indian brave was struck by lightening 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 in May 1920. This land included the bridge and was to be known as Ayres Natural Bridge Park. In later year, 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 power house 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 power house, 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 information and wanted to share it before I shared our visit. As you may have seen 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 this year. I have to admit though, that I did not even know it was there until our wonder 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, make 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 that same as it did they last time they visited in the 90’s.
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 opened 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.