Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Written by on October 26, 2015 in UT Outdoor Adventures - Comments Off on Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument in the Southwest U.S. is unquestionably one of the sites you should see while visiting. An extraordinary natural wonder sitting astride Bridge Canyon on Utah’s southern border, this portal is a gateway to a maze of canyons to the north.

This great arc of sandstone is the world’s largest natural bridge — spanning 275 feet and standing 290 feet high. The top of the arch is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide and perfectly frames Navajo Mountain in the curve of the arch. Navajo Mountain is a nearly perfect dome, covered with pines, that rises to over 10,000 feet.

Nearly 190 million years ago, this part of the country was covered with great sand dunes. Eventually the sand was buried beneath additional layers of soil and rock and compacted to become Navajo Sandstone. Then Bridge Creek, flowing off Navajo Mountain, began to carve a canyon through the petrified dunes and wild country. Once it wore down the sandstone, the creek meet the harder underlying Kayenta formation, and the work of carving a canyon became harder. Eventually the creek broke through a meandering curve, through the Navajo Sandstone. And so Rainbow Bridge was formed. Then over the millennia, the arch was enlarged and worn by wind, water and infrequent rain and snow storms.

Neighboring Indian tribes believe Rainbow Bridge is a sacred religious site. They travel to Rainbow Bridge to pray and make offerings near and under its lofty span. Special prayers are said before passing beneath the Bridge: neglect to say appropriate prayers might bring misfortune or hardship. Out of respect for Native American beliefs, visitors are not asked not to pass under the bridge itself, but look at the bridge from the viewing area.

Although Rainbow Bridge National Monument is immediately adjacent to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, it is a separate unit of the National Park System. Because it is a site sacred to the Native Americans, activities are somewhat restricted. However, one of the best ways to see the bridge is by water. Boat tours to Rainbow Bridge are available from the park’s concessionaire, Aramark. Since the Wahweap and Bullfrog marinas are about 50 miles on the lake from Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the tour takes all day. For boat tour information and reservations call 1-800-528-6154 or go on-line at www.lakepowell.com.

Lodging, dining and services are available in nearby Page, Arizona, or Bullfrog, Utah. The nearest campgrounds are at Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument
P.O. Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040
Phone: 928-608-6200

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