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!




  1. Beutiful. After Delicate Arch, Rainbow Bridge is probably our second favorite. You’re right that the boat trip abounds with many photo ops. When we did it in the 1980s, Mui took 11 rolls of film in three days.

  2. ML, this question is regarding your past travels so if you do not want to address it that is fine, but was hoping to get your travel advice. There are so many European river cruise lines out there what made you choose Viking? I have read your blogs and believe you had mentioned that extra days in Amsterdam/Budapest should be considered. Also was it worth the extra $$ for a veranda? Hope to hear from you although I know you must be crazy busy with life. Also how is your husband doing? We hope well. Take care. Karen

    • The French Balcony stateroom is also desirable since you get a glass window to look out. So if you dont like sitting on the veranda the French Balcony should just be fine.

  3. Rainbow bridge is just so exquisite. No wonder it is a sacred place for the Native peoples. Your picture of the view up the canyon is just wonderful How those campers got to that beach? Looks like the perfect place. As beautiful as the boat ride was I think it would make me too sad to think about all that was lost for a recreational playground and to green up the desert. I feel so sorry for the Colorado River and Glen Canyon of old. How wonderful to have so many friends right there in the campground with you.

  4. Absolutely spectacular! We thought about taking the boat tour when we were at Lake Powell a couple of years ago, but decided against it (we weren’t certain it would be worth the cost). But it sure looks like it was worth it from your story and photos! Thanks for sharing your tour with us.

  5. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to see Rainbow Bridge. Wow! The water is quite a bit lower. Our hike to the bridge was less than a mile. The ride out and back is so pretty.

  6. You are killing me with all these ideas. And to think we were concerned we would get bored with our two week stay in Page. Yikes… I feel like I have enough to keep us busy for two months!! Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. We can’t wait! Did you have to book this tour beforehand or can you wait until the day of?

    • I would suggest booking it beforehand since you will be here when the rest of the world will be here. Your two weeks will just fly by! This boat tour is just one of the many offerings. If your meeting with friends when here, consider renting a boat.

  7. I keep eyeing that boat tour, but not being a ‘tour’ kind of gal, I think I’d prefer renting a boat. It’s times like these that I really miss our boat. It was so much fun connecting with everyone. Hope we can do it again in the not too distant future!

  8. I will definitely keep this tour in mind when we next visit Page. Your photos are spectacular! I can only imagine how fast your camera shutter was working to collect all those photos!

  9. Still on our list of places to visit, just another reason we’ll be back to Page. We had a blast with you guys albeit too short.

  10. My 30-year career in water resources has reminded me that the significant decline in the water elevation of Lake P owell is symptomatic of an ecosystem out of balance. Too many demands – not enough water. We are going to do Utah soon, and will consider your posts our primary travelogue. P.S. – we’re wintering in Bonita Beach at Imperial Bonita Estates. I’ve determined that for us, it is the Center of the Known Universe. Happy Travels and stay safe!

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