- Rainbow Bridge in southern Utah is one of the largest natural arches in the world, standing at 275 feet in span and 290 feet in height.
- The Rainbow Bridge National Monument, established in 1910, is a small and isolated area with extraordinary rock formations.
- The easiest way to access Rainbow Bridge is by taking a 7-hour boat tour across Lake Powell, with the boat tours offered daily at a cost of $145.
Rainbow Bridge in southern Utah hidden near the state line with Arizona is one of the most spectacular natural arches in the American West. The towering natural arch is protected in the Rainbow Bridge National Monument and is among the largest natural arches in the world (it is currently ranked as the 11th largest in the world and 4th largest in the USA).
Rainbow Bridge is huge, although the largest natural bridge in the United States is the Landscape Arch of Arches National Park while the largest natural bridge in the world is the recently discovered Xianren Bridge (or Fairy Bridge) in southern China.
Rainbow Bridge National Monument: The Small Isolated Monument On Lake Powell
Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Utah
The Rainbow Bridge National Monument is one of the smallest units of the National Park Service. This small area of 160 squares boasts an abundance of extraordinary rock formations and features.
The Rainbow Bridge National Monument was first established in 1910 and is now administered by the Glen Canyon National Reservation Area. Teddy Roosevelt trekking by foot and horseback was among the first outsiders to visit it. It was one of the most isolated and difficult places to visit in the Contiguous United States.
Like all natural bridges, Rainbow Bridge has been formed by the gradual processes of erosion over the eons. These processes are relentless and the arch will continue to erode until it collapses.
Rainbow Bridge: One Of The Largest & Most Spectacular Natural Arches
Rainbow bridge arch
The Rainbow Bridge is one of the top rock features of southern Utah and is among the largest natural arches in the world. The span of the bridge is 275 feet or 84 meters while the arch towers some 290 feet or 88 meters above the surrounding ground (that is high enough for buildings like the US Capitol Building could fit underneath it).
- Span: 275 feet or 84 meters
- Height: 290 feet or 88 meters
Selected Natural Arches Around The World:
- Xianren Bridge: 400 feet or 121 meters (China)
- Landscape Arch: 290 feet or 88 meters (Arches, Utah)
- Kolob Arch: 287 feet or 87.5 meters (Zion, Utah)
- Aloba Arch: 250 feet or 76 meters (Chad)
Rainbow Bridge is also recognized as a feature of cultural importance to a number of Native American tribes in the area. The National Park Service has designated it a Traditional Cultural Property and asks visitors to be respectful of the monument many people consider sacred.
Rainbow Bridge National Monument viewed from underneath
While the natural bridge was long known to Native American tribes. The modern name for the arch, Rainbow Bridge, is a translation from the Pueblo name “Nonnezoshe” meaning ‘rainbow turned to stone’. The arch only became publicized to the outside world in 1909.
The Rainbow Bridge is one of the great attractions to explore on the shores north of Lake Powell. Some 85,000 people come to visit it every year.
The region is in isolated and rugged canyons that cut through the region at the feet of Navajo Mountain.
How To Access The Remote Rainbow Bridge & The National Monument
The old access ways to the Rainbow Bridge have not been possible since the creation of Lake Powell. Now the easiest access to the Rainbow Bridge is by taking a 7-hour (total) boat tour across Lake Powell (the boats depart from Wahweap Marina or Bullfrog Marinas).
After landing, there is a 1.25-mile or 1.8-kilometer into the national monument to see the Rainbow Bridge. The boat tours are offered daily and the boating concessioner is Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas.
- Duration: 7 Hours (includes 1/2 hour at the arch)
- Cost: $145.00 per adult
Another way to get to Rainbow Bridge is by taking one of two hikes, one is a 14-mile (26-kilometer) trip departing from the Navajo Mountain Trading Post and the other is a 13-mile (24-kilometer) hike from the abandoned Rainbow Lodge.
These trails run through Navajo lands (the largest Native American reservation) and require a permit from Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation (call (602) 871-6647 for the permit). The hikes are over rough canyon terrain and are more suitable for confident hikers.
- Best Hiking Times: April, May, September, October
- Opening Season: Year Round
- Entrance Fee: None
Rainbow Bridge Arch, Lake Powell
Visitors should be aware that there are no food, lodging, or other services at the Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Camping is also not permitted, and the monument is considered closed at sundown. Rainbow Bridge is open year-round and there are accommodation options at Bullfrog, Hall’s Crossing, and Wahweap.
Elsewhere, the are other (although less spectacular) natural bridges to explore in the eastern half of the United States as well, including the Arch Rock of Mackinac Island in Michigan and arches in Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Kentucky.