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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

It’s hard to top my 2017 Travels with a hike into Havasu Falls / Grand Canyon or The Wave in Escalante National Monument.  This year I have opted for one of the most difficult National Monuments to get to.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument on Lake Powell is unique as most people go to see it by tour boat.  The Colorado River in Page, AZ is held back by the Glen Canyon Dam, forming Lake Powell.

About 50 miles up stream on a tributary from Navajo Mountain, Rainbow Bridge was discovered in 1909.  All the explorers prior had missed it on their expeditions down stream.  

Rumors of a great stone arch finally met the right people and they found Rainbow Bridge.  It’s a Bridge and Arch but a Bridge because it was undercut by water flowing through it.

Rainbow Bridge is exceptionally large and well formed.  It offers a view with over 10,000 foot snow covered Navajo Mountain in the backdrop as you look up stream.

The National Park Service oversees the management of Glen Canyon Resorts and Marina’s where I arrive at 7:30 am for an 8:00 departure.

The boat trip is about 6 hours long and cost me $117.00 after AAA discount, so it’s not cheap.  The other way to go is to rent your own boat and pilot it yourself the 50 some odd miles there and back, or get permits from the Navajo Nation to hike in.  Both come at a cost too.

The boat we were on had an open top and closed bottom.  I opted for the lower knowing how cold it would be on top with 20 knot wind.  

Eventually those with the hardy thoughts came to join the warmer area below but many ended up standing due to seatscalready being taken.

The route up the Colorado River is scenic at every turn.  There is a narration headset that you can listen to information about the buttes and history.

There are plenty of places to enjoy along the way and I can see how having or renting a houseboat on the lake That goes for over 100 miles can be a fun adventure when you consider that there is over a thousand miles of shoreline to explore.

Our boat operator tucked into this arch.  She explained it was popular in the summer sun to stay cool.

We arrived at our destination in about 2.5 hours by boat.  We have 1.5 hours to tour Rainbow Bridge up the approximate 1 mile easy path.

Above is my first glympse of the Arch as I make my way along the trail.

It was a cloudy morning but it brightened significantly before the heavier clouds of the evening and impending rain that is coming.

I got the reflection of Navajo Mountain in the foreground water.

Being nearly there a zoom in above to Rainbow Bridge gives highlights of the arch against the snow in Navajo Mountain.

The phots facing South picked up the milky sky that was reflecting to wash out the arch at the top.

Contrast the above photo to the one below.  The above picture was shot into the bright sky to the South.  Our guide had us climb around (not ever under) the arch to take more photos.  Not picture below with the sun to my back.

Why not walk under the arch?

The Navajo Nation requests that we respect that they believe that the land under is sacred.  Everyone complied with the signage, and it’s actually easier to use the path than try to make your own trail.

On the back side (South) of the bridge are two plaques to commorate the two native Americans who assisted in finding Rainbow Brodge.

There are many places I still have not seen on my travels but Rainbow Bridge NM is another one that I’ve completed.



  1. Thanks for sharing, I can't afford it, so seeing it from your point of view was great. Have you been to Natural Bridges National Monument yet? If not, you need to go, and also do some of the hikes to the ruins in The Grand Gulch Primitive Area. Bears Ears is close to there also.

    1. How interesting to read your comment. I drove to Mexican Hat, UT today and I’ll be heading out to cover those areas that I did not yet visit in Southern UT. This includes Natural Bridges NM and Bears Ears. I will have to check out The Grand Gulch Primative Area, as I’m not aware of it.

      I plan on covering the whole area from the Eastern Glen Canyon from Halls Crossing north by Eastern Escalante/ Southern Capitol Reef - easy to Bears Ears and South to Mexican Hat

      Thanks for the suggestions.