Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour

Lake Powell – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
By Lynn Bremner

The first leg of our summer hiking trip began at Lake Powell Resort & Marina. It’s located right on Lake Powell, and was the perfect choice for our first adventure, a boat tour and hike to Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument is located in a remote area between the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and the Navajo Nation. It’s one of the largest natural bridges in the world, measuring 290′ high and 275’wide.  The easiest way to reach it is by boat.

Our tour started at 7:30 AM and was expected to last approximately six hours. We packed a lunch and took plenty of water with us. The tour met at the Waheap Marina adjacent to the resort to assemble for the excursion.  Though the weather was cool at that hour, we knew it would get a lot hotter later on in the day.

Views of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

We chose to sit inside, on the lower deck, which provided more shade.  The scenery along the way was spectacular; the sandstone rock and desertscape was a dramatic contrast to the cool blue water of Lake Powell. Photo opportunities were plentiful along the 50-mile route.  We thought it was a great way to spend time on the lake, and enjoyed cruising along, taking in the view.

The dock at the trailhead.

Finally the engines slowed and we entered the canyon, navigating through a narrow passageway to the dock at the trailhead to Rainbow Bridge. We disembarked and made our way to the trail. It was hot at that hour and while the hike was short, just 1.25-miles roundtrip, it was uphill and sandy in areas, making it a slow ascent.

As we made our way around each turn on the trail, the bridge slowly came into sight.  I snapped a lot of photos as we approached. Once at the top we just stood and took in the view of Rainbow Bridge.  It was stunning.

The trail from the dock to Rainbow Bridge.

There are several vantage points with great tableaus of the bridge.  The closest area to the bridge is also the location of a dinosaur footprint.  Scientists believe it’s a Dilophosaurusfootprint. We imagined what it would have been like to witness a dinosaur walking through the canyon 190-200 millions years ago.

We had about 30 minutes to take in the scenery and enjoy experiencing Rainbow Bridge.  The tour guide spoke about its history and geology. It was originally a “fin” of sandstone that Bridge Creek wrapped around as the water moved towards the Colorado River.  Water and sediment wore away the sandstone fin, eventually boring a hole through it and forming the famous bridge.

It was time to head back to the boat.  The hike down the trail was much easier than the way up had been.  We sat on the outside deck of the boat for the journey back to the resort.  It was fun to see the lake views from a different perspective.  The fresh air and remarkable landscape continued to inspire us all the way back to the dock.

Looking from the back of the boat as we returned to the Marina.

If you go …

Rainbow Bridge is in a remote location and can only be accessed by boat or by hiking several days on foot.   If you go on foot, you’ll need to get backcountry permits from the Navajo Nation.

The boat tour we booked was through the Lake Powell Resort & Marina.  The boat leaves from Waheap Marina, located at the resort. Check their website for tour rates and schedules.  You’ll need to pack your own lunch and food.  The tour does provide water, coffee and lemonade.

For more information on the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour from Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas, click here.  https://www.lakepowell.com/things-to-do/boat-tours/rainbow-bridge-tour/

Update: No Dock Access to Rainbow Bridge Date Posted: 10/21/2021 – Alert 4, Severity closure, No Dock Access to Rainbow Bridge. No dock access to the shoreline at Rainbow Bridge due to low water. Boats and small vessels beach at your own risk. While no longer connected to the shoreline, the docks will still be accessible with restroom facilities. Winter trail crews will rebuild. To read more or to check for more current updates, visit the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area website.

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