Rainbow Bridge National Monument – Page, AZ

A place we missed exploring during our last visit to Page, Arizona was “Nonnezoshe”, meaning “rainbow turned to stone.”  We were lucky to get a boat tour reservation in late March during this visit, as these tours usually start after April 1st.  Access to Rainbow Bridge is made via a 2+ hour boat tour departing from Wahweap Marina to Forbidding Canyon, followed by a 30-minute walk to the bridge.  The only other ways to get there are either to rent your own boat or make a 14+ mile (one way) hike around Navajo Mountain.  Although a bit pricey, the boat tour is a great way to spend a day enjoying a relaxing boat ride as you get a unique perspective of the gorgeous geology along the way.

The morning boat ride was chilly as we left the marina

As the boat cruised along 50 miles of beautiful Lake Powell, we were immediately awestruck with the canyon scenery.  It was a narrated tour that included information about local geology.  We gazed at countless soaring red rock cliffs, solitary buttes, mesas and orange beaches that we had only glimpsed during our hike of the Page Rimview Trail a few days previously.  Although the glens (lush and green growth along the river and side canyons) for which the canyon was named are now deep beneath the lake, the formations that remain above the surface of the water create a truly spectacular scenery.

Cathedral Rock is the formation we had seen from our campsite at a different angle

A fisherman is dwarfed by gigantic cliffs

Gunsight Butte looked like a lighthouse from our campsite

There are limitless photographic opportunities along the shorelines

Padre Bay

A rented boat looks like a toy against a soaring cliff

Petrified sand dunes

As we neared our destination the boat wound back and forth in narrowing Forbidding Canyon:

Anticipation built as we entered Forbidding Canyon

This dock is the end of the line for boat traffic

Look at that!  Oh, look over there! Wow, that’s awesome over there, too!

Once the boat was docked we were the first two off for the 1.5-mile walk up the canyon.  The distance changes as the water level varies, and it took us about 30 minutes on this day.  The natural bridge is tucked back among a rugged, isolated canyon at the base of Navajo Mountain.

We were lucky to be first off the boat!

Filled with anticipation, we finally rounded a bend and saw part of the bridge soaring in a huge arc.  At that moment we understood why it is named Rainbow Bridge. It looked just like a rainbow carved into the Navajo Sandstone, with 10,000’+ snow-dusted Navajo Mountain in the background.

This was a teaser as we rounded one of the last corners – wow!

The immense bridge is 290′ tall and 275′ wide, the largest in the world according to the tour brochure

Two plaques were attached to the canyon wall to commemorate Piutes NasJah Begay and Jim Mike, who first guided white men to Nonnezoshi in August 1909.  President Howard Taft designated Rainbow Bridge and 160 acres around it as a national monument one year later.

A view up the canyon from the “back” (south) side of the bridge

Rainbow Bridge

Another view from the “back” side

Fascinating wind action on the sandstone

A fossilized dinosaur track

It was time to walk back to the boat after only 30 minutes of frantic photography.

The captain and crew wait to welcome us back

The cruise back gave us yet another perspective of the canyon scenery and the amazing erosional features sculpted by wind, water and freezing.  Another round of wows!

Can you spot the campers on the beach?

Tower Butte is a landmark that can be seen from highway 89, and from Betsy’s windows

It was a long trip, but totally worth it.  Visiting Rainbow Bridge was surely one of the highlights of our week-long visit to Page!

Everyone was mellow and satisfied on the return trip

Our stay at Wahweap RV and Campground was a blast, with friends staying all around us.  In the campground were Dave and Sue at site C24, and Dave and Faye at C10 (we were in D41).  The ever-adventurous Al and Ingrid were boondocking at nearby Lone Rock and joined in the festivities.  It was a fun gathering as we swapped stories about our time here and discussed where our paths will cross again as we fan out across the country.  Parting is such sweet sorrow!

This may be our third visit to Page, but certainly not the last!

 

Next up:  Into the heart of  Monument Valley