Long ride for a short hike
Overview: Rainbow Bridge is found in Rainbow Bridge National Monument, and is often called the world's largest natural bridge. This is likely true, but there are other near contenders, so measurements are ongoing. Regardless, Rainbow Bridge is one of the most beautiful and fascinating spans found in the southwest. Access via Lake Powell is the most popular way to see this remarkable natural bridge.
Warning: Regardless of time of year, boat access to Rainbow Bridge is expensive. The bridge is remote - 50 miles from the nearest marina. Be prepared for a hot ride in the summer. The length of the hike varies, so be prepared with drinking water as well. If you are driving your own boat, you will need to fill up with gas either coming or going at Dangling Rope Marina, 8 miles down the lake from Rainbow Bridge.
History: Rainbow Bridge began being accessible by downcanyon hikers as soon as people began running the Colorado River. By the 1940s, Arth Greene had set up his airboat operation out of Cliff Dwellers Lodge below Lee's Ferry, allowing tourists to visit the bridge in as little as three days. After the gates closed on Glen Canyon Dam tourists were able to shorten their trip to about one day by taking a boat trip up Lake Powell. This trip description picks up here.
Hike: The hike starts at Rainbow Dock. At an average lake level, the dock is located approximately .75 miles from Rainbow Bridge in Bridge Canyon. From your boat, walk down the dock to the dirt path. The path heads upcanyon and is well marked. In high water years, it is not a very far hike to Rainbow Bridge and you will soon catch a glimpse of it around a canyon bend. When the water is low, it can be well over 1.5 miles one way to the bridge, with no shade or water.
Water Sources: None along the trail. Bring your own on the boat.
Camping: Not allowed.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.