North America | | June 15, 2010 at 3:05 am


“Next morning early we started our toilsome return trip. The pony trail led under the arch. Along this the Ute drove our pack-mules, and as I followed him I noticed that the Navajo rode around outside. His creed bade him never pass under an arch. This great natural bridge, so recently ‘discovered’ by white men, has for ages been known to the Indians.”

Theodore Roosevelt, after his 1913 visit,
– A Book Lover’s Holiday in the Open

Biggest Natural Bridge

The biggest naturally formed bridge in the world, the Rainbow bridge towers could have been easily lost amongst the canyons located at the base of Navajo mountain. The structure, that is now declared as a National Monument, has been inspiring people throughout time.

Rainbow Bridge Navajo Mountain

The discovery

Rainbow Bridge ToursThe bridge was discovered by the outside world in the early 20th century. Hordes of people began to visit the monument every year; and researchers started studying the formation of this miraculous bridge. Very few, however, are aware of the fact that the existence of the bridge was known to the Navajo tribes that surround the area; and they considered the bridge sacred. They’d known about the formation for years before any of us heard of it.

It is tucked safely at the base of the isolated canyons of the Navajo mountains. By the 1800s, the Rainbow Bridge was accidentally discovered by some wandering Rainbow Bridge Historycowboys. However, the bridge got its due publicity only in the 1909. Until then this area had gotten famous by the word-of-mouth medium of news. Two exploration parties set out to find the place – one that was led by the University of Utah dean – Byron Cummings and the other that was set up by the government that had W.B. Douglass as the head. These two parties, after months of sweat and toil, decided to combine their efforts. It finally happened for them, when on 14th August, 1909, while they were coming down what is today known as ‘Bridge Canyon’ that they chanced upon the Rainbow Bridge for the first time.

In 1910, the then President William Howard Taft, created a Rainbow Bridge National Monument to preserve the ‘natural yet extraordinary’ bridge. The bridge got its name from its arched form, which makes it appear like a rainbow. This structure also gets a lot of attention from scientists since it is a rare example of eccentric steam erosion.

The Rainbow Bridge


You could travel across the Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. A courtesy dock is available for those who want to make the 2 mile walk to the bridge.

You could, alternatively, backpack to this national monument, across the Navajo Nation Islands. This one will, however, need a permit from the Navajo nations. Do not attempt entering the area without a legal permit in hand.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

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  1. vareeja says:

    Rainbow bridge was considered sacred by the Navajo tribes; discovered at the start of 20th century by north Americans has been recognised as their national monument..

    It is the biggest and most magnificient ‘naturally’ formed bridge in the world!

  2. jane says:

    hey there is ni=o need to wait for rain now,,, this is such a different bridge which is also like a rainbow..

    Very few, however, are aware of the fact that the existence of the bridge was known to the Navajo tribes that surround the area; and they considered the bridge sacred.

    getting to that place is somewhat more interesting, because u hav to cross a lake named Powell.,

    and lastly, ull be surprised to know that this rainbow bridge is a naturally constructed one..

  3. Appleton Fernandes says:

    Any hiker will be truly dazzled by the beautiful orange and red canyons. Nowadays,the bridge can be reached a by boat on Lake Powell.

    If you care enough to see some of Utah’s most spectacular canyon country, you’ll have to give a bit of strain to your legs!

    This hike can be done overnight, but only by experienced hikers.

    As the terrain is uneven, a beginner will need atleast three or four days to reach the Rainbow Bridge..

    Cool post! :-)

  4. Suzzie Smith says:

    Hey Appleton,

    With the rugged fringe of Navajo Mountain ,trekking there is definitely a very arduous task even for the most experienced trekkers..

    Today a very very few people will prefer to take the trail to reach the Rainbow bridge unlike the early 1900′s..

    People mostly take a boat on Lake Powell to reach the bridge..

    Thanks for the post :-)

  5. Sierra Trump says:

    Hi Suzzie,

    I just inquired about the hiking requirements in the Navajo mountains and found that to hike to Rainbow Bridge, you’ll require a backcountry permit from the Navajo Nation..

    There is an old outhouse on the trail called Cliff Springs,which offers facilities like toilets, but that’s the least you’ll find here..

    If you are camping in the close vicinity of the Lake Powell you have to be really careful to follow the required norms, which include carrying your wastes out of the 1/4 mile radius surrounding the lake..

  6. Matthew Squirrel says:

    Hey Sierra ,

    Thanks so much for that information you need to be aware of if you are trekking in the Navajo country!

    Being a globetrotter, I’m amazed at the perspective of trekking this trail, but I see it is indeed not easy and would require equally good company and people who’ve already been there before..

    Thanks again!

  7. Drew Fuller says:

    Hey Matthew,

    You’ll also need to pack in a plenty of purified water and purification tablets..

    You may find water springs along the trail but that is entirely seasonal..

    The lake Powell provides fresh water but it is not advisable to skimp on purification tablets before you drink the water here..

  8. Dale Worthy says:

    Hey Matthew, I’d also like to add to Drew that the trail isn’t marked with a sign but is easy to follow with frequent cairns..

    The biggest hurdles are the talus slopes and bayonet yucca that can pierce pants!
    There are decent camping sites in Cliff canyon.

    On the trail you’ll come across typical flora like cactii and fauna like rodents, lizards and raven..

    At the end of the trail the huge span of the Magnificient Rainbow bridge stands tall above the Lake Powell..

    Its upper part is made of sandstone while the lower part is made of harder Kayenta sandstone..

  9. Shirly McCartney says:

    Hey Dale and Drew, you’ve shared some great information for trekkers who lokk forward to the prospect of trekking here..

    I want to thank you heartily for giving out so useful data you need to learn before taking the trail..

    Thanks all :-)

  10. Louis Blake says:

    Yes Drew,

    You’ve given out a very useful piece of data…

    Great for prospective trekkers!

    Cheers! :-)

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