Overview

With a span of 275 feet Rainbow Bridge is one of the largest known natural bridges in the world. The route described here is from Lake Powell making a boat or tour boat shuttle a necessity. It is possible to hike to Rainbow Bridge overland however that route requires several days of backpacking and a permit from the Navajo Nation. The route from the lake is an easy hike typically in the 1-1.5 mile range one-way depending on the current water level of Lake Powell. This hike is suitable for most children and adults.

The Trailhead

This route to Rainbow Bridge is a Lake Powell-accessed hike that requires a boat to access. If you do not have access to a boat, tour boats operated by the National Park Service Authorized concessionaire provide daily shuttles to Rainbow Bridge from Wahweap Marina at the south end of Lake Powell. For more information on accessing Rainbow Bridge via tour boat, visit the Lake Powell website. If you own or rent your own boat, it is critical that you have the skills and equipment to navigate and anchor your boat safely and properly before attempting this hike.

To reach the trailhead from Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell:

  1. Navigate up lake approximately 49 miles.
  2. Near Buoy 49, turn right into the signed entrance for Forbidden Canyon (37.114571, -110.974365).
  3. Continue up Forbidden Canyon 2.0 miles to the usually signed junction for Rainbow Bridge on the left.
  4. Turn left into the narrow canyon toward Rainbow Bridge (37.092485, -110.976450).
  5. Continue to the courtesy docks, typically .7-2.0 miles up, depending on water level (37.083779, -110.971948).

Be courteous as you approach Rainbow Bridge by travelling at a no-wake speed and observing all posted signs. No fishing or swimming is allowed within Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

The Hike

From the boat docks, begin walking on the floating walkway up the canyon. Continue hiking as the walkway ends and the trail continues as a dirt path. Depending on the level of the reservoir, the hike from here to Rainbow Bridge may be just a short walk, or as long as a 1-2 miles. When the reservoir is full, water extends underneath Rainbow Bridge.

Continue hiking up the trail as it winds along the side of the canyon. Soon you will encounter a paved section of trail that marks the permanent trail above the high water mark. Continue hiking to a small wooden pavilion that provides welcome shade on a hot summer day and a fantastic view of Rainbow Bridge.

From the pavilion, continue hiking along the trail toward Rainbow Bridge. A viewing area near the bridge marks the end of the trail. It’s impossible to grasp the magnitude of the bridge without seeing it in person. With a span of 275 feet and a height of 290 feet, it is amongst the largest known natural bridges in the world. Take in the sight, but keep your distance. Rainbow Bridge is a sacred religious site to some Native American tribes/nations. In light of this, the National Park Service requests that you not approach or walk under the bridge.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are not allowed to leave boats at the Rainbow Bridge docks.
  • Do not leave pets unattended in boats.
  • Pack out all trash.
  • Do not carve or draw on rocks.
  • No fishing or swimming within Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Special Considerations

  • This area can be extremely hot during spring, summer and fall. Carry plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing.

Credits

This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.