1910: National Monument
Rating (1-5): Unrated
About the SiteRainbow Bridge is the world's largest natural bridge. Over thousands of years, the creek under this rock carved an opening in the sandstone that resulted in an arch 290 feet high. That's nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty. Tucked at the foothills of Navajo Mountain near the Arizona-Utah border, Rainbow Bridge was known for centuries by the Native Americans who lived in the area. Native Americans living in the region have long held the bridge sacred. Ancestral Puebloan residents were followed much later by Paiute and Navajo groups. Several Paiute and Navajo families, in fact, still reside nearby.
Although white trappers and explorers had no doubt seen the bridge in the 1800's, it wasn't until 1909 that its existance was publicized to the outside world. The next year President Taft proclaimed the Monument; in 1913, former president Theodore Roosevelt spent several arduous weeks making the journey to the arch.
What You're Going to SeeThe construction of Glen Canyon dam has permanently changed how we view Rainbow Bridge. Visitors in the 1950's took three days to make the round trip, including a 7-mile hike up from the Colorado River. Now we can now practically maneuver our boats to within sight of the arch. Apart from improving access to the bridge, Lake Powell has caused consternation with Native American tribes as the water covered ancient religious sites. Indeed, visitors are asked to respect ancient beliefs and not to walk underneath the arch.
Rainbow Bridge is located within the area of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and is administered by that park staff as well.
Personal ObservationsI haven't seen the Bridge since I was a child on a waterskiing trip in Lake Powell. I'd love to see it again. This landscape of Glen Canyon is famous in movies; the crash site of the original "Planet of the Apes" was filmed here.
Getting ThereThere are two approaches to Rainbow Bridge. The first and most popular is to take a boat on Lake Powell and motor up the canyon to the Monument, where rangers are on duty Memorial Day through Labor Day, and less frequently at other times. Boat trips can be make in private, rental, or tour boats. A courtesy dock is available for short-term docking while people make the 1/2 mile walk to the bridge. By boat, it is approximately 50 miles from Wahweap, Bullfrog, or Halls Crossing to Rainbow Bridge.
You may also backpack to Rainbow Bridge across Navajo Nation lands. A permit from the Navajo Nation is required. You may write to: Navajo Nation, Parks and Recreation Department, Box 9000, Window Rock, Arizona 86515.
Nearby AttractionsGlen Canyon NRA, of course, surrounds the Bridge. Navajo NM lies to the southeast, in Arizona. Grand Canyon NP is close to the southwest, as is Vermilion Cliffs NM. Grand Staircase-Escalante NM is directly to the west, and further along is fantastic Bryce Canyon NP. Capitol Reef NP is to the north. Canyonlands NP lies to the northeast. Natural Bridges NM, to the east, gives examples of different kinds of bridges.