Rainbow Bridge National Monument is a 65 hectare site in Utah, that preserves one of the world's largest natural bridges, the Rainbow Bridge. Located in the canyon-lands of southeastern Utah, the bridge is 290 feet high and spans 275 feet across, attracting upwards of 60,000 visitors annually. Proclaimed a National Monument in 1910 by President William Howard Taft, the bridge has a huge cultural significance to the Navajo Indians who resided in this region for centuries.
Having existed for over 200 million years, the bridge used to be a remote destination with religious significance for residents of the region who believed it was responsible for the region's ecosystem. The park is now administered by Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with easy access now provided. Prior to the establishment of the monument, multi-day hikes were required to be able to view the picturesque bridge.
Rainbow Bridge is one of Utah's biggest tourist hotspots attracting visitors from all over the U.S. and offering an endless list of recreational options. There are ranger-guided tours where tourists can learn about the region's history and rich geology. Lake Powell also offers boating and fishing opportunities to visitors, with hiking trails of different difficulties running through the area. Rainbow Bridge is a wonderful tourist destination for most of the year, with the region's climate allowing for a premium experience especially during the summer months.
Before the formation of Lake Powell, the bridge could only be reached through a multi-day hike, but the lake has made Rainbow Bridge one of the most accessible natural bridges in the world. Now, the monument can be reached via a two-hour boat ride on the lake which brings you within a mile of the monument. The mile-long trail ahead takes you straight to Rainbow Bridge.
If you prefer more of an adventure or wish to follow in the footsteps of the Navajo and the early pioneers, you can still reach Rainbow Bridge the old-fashioned way. Taking the traditional 14-mile trip on foot or horseback requires the permission of the Navajo Nation.
There is no camping permitted within the boundaries of the Rainbow Bridge National Monument. The closest camping is at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. You can do some primitive camping in your RV or trailer on the beach at Lone Rock Beach Campsites. There are vault toilets, a cold shower, and a dump station here.
You can also try your luck at another campground managed by the National Park Service, called Lees Ferry Campground. There are 51 designated sites here along with a more modern bathroom. While there are still no hookups, this site is a little less primitive.
Wherever you choose to camp in this recreation area, you're likely to be close to or directly on the shores of Lake Powell. Get ready for endless boating, swimming, and beach combing activities to keep everyone entertained.
Rainbow Bridge National Monument has a Junior Ranger Program, a brilliant family-friendly activity that gives your kids the spotlight and allows them have some fun with their peers.
The program involves a series of activities the kids must perform to earn their Ranger Certificate. The programs are aimed at teaching kids the importance of National Parks and Monuments and why they should be preserved. Once they become a Junior Ranger, they are given their certificate as a souvenir from the trip.
The enormous reservoir at Lake Powell is one of the best water sport destinations anywhere. Boating is the most popular sport at the lake, but other sports like waterskiing, scuba diving, and kayaking are also common at the lake. Warm Creek Bay, Padre Bay, Rock Creek Bay, and Halls Creek Bay are hotspots at the lake.
The strong winds that often hit the lake make waterskiing perfect with the steady current, while also making swimming and boating safe in designated areas. Boat tours of the lake are available to visitors. There are several vendors and rentals at the lake but personal boats are allowed as well.
Just like the region's bird species, the wild mammal and reptile population at the monument have adapted to the harsh conditions of the region. The wildlife here have developed impressive adaptation techniques to combat the harsh climate and terrain. Some large wildlife that visitors can spot in the region include bighorn sheep and proghorns.
Small mammals are far more common and easier to spot for visitors. There are numerous rabbit and rat species that can easily be spotted scampering across the trails or digging burrows. Pocket mice and kangaroo rats are also common small mammals and hikers with binoculars will be able to spot them easily.
For visitors who want to do some further exploration, Kanab is a good place to visit. The scenic town has been a popular film making destination for decades, earning it the name 'Little Hollywood.'
The town's scenery portrays all the charms and uniqueness of a classic American Western dwelling, and the town has been sharing tourists with Rainbow Bridge National Monument for over a century. The food, festivals, and culture of Kanab make the region a good place to visit for tourists of Rainbow Bridge.
Despite the region's seemingly harsh conditions, it has a thriving ecosystem with a unique collection of birdlife that has adapted to the arid conditions of their environment. The lake is a big part of the ecosystem here as its the major water source of the animals that are native to the region.
Wild birds like eagles and condors are very easy to spot near the bridge, but rarer species like gadwall, teals and peregrine falcons also reside in the large canyons.
A lot of water birds can be found around the lake; the area is home to multiple duck species, and the thriving fish population at the lake offers food to many species of birds.
The water isn't the only place you can have fun at Rainbow Bridge. The hiking trails near the bridge give visitors unique views of the bridge as well as scenic canyon views and some spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities. The dry terrain means visitors should wear protective boots and bring water when hiking.
The Rainbow Bridge Trail is a short, easy hike with great views of the bridge and the large canyons that surround it. The trail at West Canyon is the most difficult in the region with steep climbs and rocky paths. Visitors in search of a trail with moderate difficulty should hike Antelope Canyon.