Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Our tour boat

Yesterday I mentioned taking a boat tour at Glen Canyon National Recreation.  Tom and I did this boat tour with a very specific purpose in mind.  We wanted to visit Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

There are only two ways to get to Rainbow Bridge National Monument:  by boat or by a long, strenuous hike through the Navajo reservation.  It wasn’t a hard decision for us!  We chose the easy route.  Not only did we get to see 50 miles of beautiful Lake Powell, but we also enjoyed the narrated tour of the lake.

The long dock

Rainbow Bridge National Monument was one of the sites sacred to the Native Americans that was forever changed by the building of the Glen Canyon Dam.  Until the long drought started around 2000, the water of Lake Powell flowed under Rainbow Bridge.  As the level of the lake has gone down, the dock for the bridge has gotten farther and farther away from the bridge.  Currently, visitors to Rainbow Bridge have to walk about a mile up a canyon to reach the bridge.

Tom and I were delighted to walk.  It was nice to stretch our legs after the boat ride.  We got off the boat and walked down a long dock.  As we walked up the canyon we saw several sites for previous docks when the water was higher.  It was an easy walk except for the heat.  But we had our hats and plenty of water.

Once we got to the bridge we snapped the requisite selfie, then had another visitor take our picture.  Because Tom and I walk briskly, we got to the bridge near the front of the pack.  I’ve seen plenty of pictures with lots of people crowded around the bridge.  The day we went we were the only tour boat and there were only 40 people on our boat.  So it didn’t seem crowded.

There are no services at Rainbow Bridge National Monument.  I got the stamp for it at the Glen Canyon Visitor Center.  But the lack of services enhanced our visit.  Out of respect for the Native Americans, no one walks under the bridge.  I was able to get plenty of pictures without any other people in the picture.  Tom and I walked along the slightly steeper path to the back of the bridge.  It looks about the same from both angles, but it was fun to extend our hike.

Dinosaur tracks

Our tour guides from the boat pointed out dinosaur tracks on the rocks and told some local Navajo stories about the bridge.  The boat tour company also provided cold water and snacks for all of us.  They encouraged everyone to take at least one bottle of water for the hike to the bridge and back.

Rainbow Bridge is one of the largest natural bridges in the world.  It is 290 feet tall from its base to the top of the arch, and spans 275 feet across the creek channel. The top of the arch measures 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide.   It is definitely an impressive sight and Tom and I are glad we took the time to visit.