Sacred Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Utah is a significant geological marvel. It is the tallest natural bridge in North America.
Located at the foot of Navajo Mountain, Rainbow Bridge formed after millions of years of glacier melts, snow accumulation and flash flood waters as they carved away sand from the sandstone walls. It still continues to change as rain and wind slowly erode the surface, carrying away bits of sand on a continual basis.
North America’s indigenous people of the Four Corners region have known about Rainbow Bridge for centuries. The bridge and surrounding land is sacred to their culture and beliefs. Find out more about the “Bridge Between the Cultures” and history of the monument.
Two explorers, University of Utah archeologist Dr. Byron Cummings and William B. Douglass, Examiner of Surveys, set out on an expedition to find the location of Rainbow Bridge in 1909. They were helped by local Paiute guides Jim Mike, Nasjah Begay as well as rancher, explorer and photographer John Wetherill.
Finally after five days of searching the area, they discovered Rainbow Bridge on August 9, 1909 and President Taft declared the area a national monument on May 30, 1910.
Respect sacred lands and Rainbow Bridge
To neighbouring indigenous people of the Navajo, Hopi, Kaibab Paiute, San Juan Southern Paiute, and White Mesa Ute nations these lands have deep religious significance.
When viewing or exploring the area, please do not approach or walk under Rainbow Bridge. Respect the plants and vegetation of the area. Stay on the marked pathways and trails. Rangers are in the park at the viewing area daily during the summer months to provide information about the the natural arch, as well as the cultural and geological aspects of the area. View more photos of Rainbow Bridge
Journey to Rainbow Bridge
Learn about the history and legends of the area on a narrated boat tour to Rainbow Bridge. The scenery is breathtaking. Use your imagination. Try visualizing images etched into rock formations along the dramatic Jurassic coastline. The image below, located near the entrance to Rainbow Bridge, looks like an elephant.
View more photos of Rainbow Bridge National Monument
- Rainbow Bridge National Park is open every day from sunrise to sunset. Always check before heading into the area, to make sure there are not any unforeseen closures.
- In the summer, temperatures can be extremely high and flash floods can occur in the summer monsoon season.
- Carry enough water and wear sunscreen, as there are few shaded areas.
- Wear good sturdy walking or hiking shoes.
- Water levels rise and drop throughout the year. Be sure to check the latest scientific data regarding Lake Powell water levels.
- Download a copy of the junior ranger booklet for Rainbow Bridge.
Wildlife of Rainbow Bridge
- There are up to 16 lizard species and 11 snake varieties, including four types of rattle snakes.
- The amphibian population is most active from May to October. Five documented species of frogs and toads can usually be spotted during early morning or twilight hours.
- There are up to 315 different types of birds in the Glen Canyon area. This number includes more than 32 species of waterfowl.
- The clear waters of this area boast a variety of game fish.
- Bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions roam the area however they tend to stay away from humans. Desert bighorn sheep are in the region but rarely spotted. There are abundant black-tailed jackrabbits, bats, mice and other rodents.
- Rainbow Bridge was first made public in 1909 by the Cummings-Douglass Expedition.
- Climbing of the arch was prohibited in the mid-1950s.
- The 2008 Guinness Book of World Records lists Rainbow Bridge as the tallest natural arch in the world. This claim has now been disputed. Tushuk Tash (Shipton’s Arch) in China has been found to be the tallest in the world.
- Here is a list of known natural arches with spans greater than 200 feet/61 meters.
- The canyonlands of the southwestern United States were created more than 250 million years ago during the Jurassic Period.
- Rainbow Bridge is formed by Navajo Sandstone. Discover more about the geological formation and significance of the area.
- Rainbow Bridge National Monument is comprised of 160 acres of the Colorado Plateau.
- Black-tailed jackrabbits can jump up to 20 feet/6.1 meters and can reach speeds of up to 40 miles/64 kilometers per hour.
Access this amazing national monument by travelling 50 miles/80 kilometers on a two-hour boat ride from Lake Powell Wahweap Marina and then walking about 1.25 miles/2 kilometers to the bridge. Two tours are offered each day during the busy season.
Hike to Rainbow Bridge from Lake Powell. The trail is about 18 miles/30 kilometres. A permit is required to explore the backcountry.
Fly into Las Vegas, Nevada or Phoenix, Arizona. Rent a car and drive 4.5 hours to Lake Powell. You can also fly into Page from one of those two cities and then rent a car.
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