A Travelers’ Guide to Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Note: click on the photograph for larger view

As baby boomer travelers, we have the great privilege to travel to some of the world’s most sought after destinations.  But I must confess, some of the most jaw-dropping displays of creation’s witness have been found right here in the desert southwest of the United States.

As one of our key witnesses, let me present you with our recent photograph of the Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Note: illustration from the National Park Service

Designated as a National Monument in 1910 by President William Howard Taft, Rainbow Bridge (the world’s largest known natural bridge) is 290 feet from the base to the top of the arch.  That’s nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty!  Further, it spans 275 feet across the river, and the top of the arch is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide.

Natural bridges are rare, and differ from arches in that they form when a watercourse breaks through rock. Arches are far more common across the Colorado Plateau, although both are shaped by the same erosional processes.

Take a peek at the illustration above to get a better understanding of how Rainbow Bridge was created.

Getting to Rainbow Bridge National Monument

As the Rainbow Bridge National Monument is now in the heart of Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the most practical way to observe Rainbow Bridge is by boat.

It is possible to backpack across Navajo Nation lands to reach the bridge, but that requires special permits from the Navajo Nation.

View Larger Map

Most of Lake Powell lies in Utah, but you can use the Google Map above to find the entrance to the park just outside of Page, Arizona.

To get there, you may use your own boat, rent a boat, rent a houseboat, our take a 5-hour guided tour on a large tour boat.

We did the later, and marveled at the narrow waterways as we progressed through the canyon to the hiking trail.

After roughly two hours of gobsmacking canyon views, we arrived at the Rainbow Bridge dock where we made a short 1.5 mile roundtrip hike to Rainbow Bridge.

Photographing the Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Our boat tour left the docks at 7:00 a.m. and had us to the Rainbow Bridge National Monument around 9:45 a.m.

The hike to the monument is predominantly in an easterly direction where you will find the monument with strong backlight from the early morning sun which is likely to washout the blue skies in your photograph.

I’m not certain, but I’m guessing a late-afternoon arrival might find you struggling with shadows from the adjacent Navajo sandstone cliffs.  In winter months, because of the shorter days, the morning option is the only one available.

To help compensate for all these uncontrollable variables, I applied a tinge of HDR filtering to our feature photograph, as well as to the one below.

We will never, ever forget our journey to the Rainbow Bridge National Monument and highly recommend that you make a visit as well.


Disclosure:  our boat tour was provided by the kind folks at Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas.  Thanks!  A Bunch!

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4 Responses to “A Travelers’ Guide to Rainbow Bridge National Monument”
  1. Great photos! I’ve driven through Utah a few times, but never spent any time there. The more pictures I see of the area, the more sorry i am that I didn’t.

    • David Porter says:

      Thanks Chad. You’ll just have to come back some day. Southern Utah is full of this type of scenery. We plan to drive what is called “The Grand Circle Tour” someday. It circles through most of these beautiful National Parks that are in southern Utah, and norther Arizona.

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