• As you approach the viewing area from the docks, Rainbow Bridge peeks out from behind the cliffs.

    Rainbow Bridge

    National Monument Utah

Frequently Asked Questions

How large is Rainbow Bridge?
It is 290 feet tall from its base to the top of the arch, and spans 275 feet across the creek channel. The top of the arch measures 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide. It is nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty and you can practically tuck the US Capitol Building Dome underneath the bridge.

Is Rainbow Bridge in good structural condition?
Yes. Although the bridge will eventually succumb to natural erosion and weathering, contemporary scientific assessments have concluded the bridge is stable and strong. Interestingly, the bridge expands approx. 1 inch in diameter during the hot summer months.

When was the last time water stood underneath Rainbow Bridge?
In 1999, Lake Powell water elevation rose to 3,696ft, pushing 42 feet of standing water into the rock channel underneath Rainbow Bridge. When Lake Powell is at full pool (3,7000ft) 46 feet of water stands underneath the bridge. Swimming is prohibited.

Is Rainbow Bridge one of the “7 Natural Wonders of the World”?
No. While Rainbow Bridge is a “natural wonder” it is not one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. The Grand Canyon is the only member of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World in the United States. Can you name the remaining six?

How many people visit Rainbow Bridge each year?
An average of 200,000 - 300,000 people visit the bridge each year. The vast majority travel by tour boat and private vessel to get here, although a few adventurous visitors hike 16-18 miles around
Navajo Mountain to enter the monument.

When was Rainbow Bridge first discovered?
Definite date unknown. Rainbow Bridge was likely first observed by a local Native American inhabitant hundreds if not thousands of years ago. It was first “discovered” and publicized to the outside world by Anglos (Whites) on August 14th, 1909. John Wetherill, Byron Cummings, and William Douglas were the primary leaders of the first Anglo discovery party. ¨

Has anyone ever climbed to the top of the bridge?
Yes. Visitors frequently climbed to the top of the bridge until the mid 1950’s when this practice was prohibited because of visitor safety and environmental reasons. A guest register existed on top of the bridge for visitors to sign until the 1950’s.

What type of rock makes up the canyon and bridge?
Only two types of sedimentary rock exist in the monument, Navajo Sandstone and Kayenta Sandstone. The Navajo comprises the curved, parabolic portion of the bridge, while the Kayenta is the foundation for the bridge. The Navajo is a geologic remnant of an ancient sand dune system that resembled the Sahara desert.

What is the difference between a bridge and an arch?
A bridge crosses or “bridges” a watercourse; a stream, river, or any body of flowing water, at least intermittently. An arch does not have active water flowing underneath it. Bridges and arches are both formed primarily by water-based weathering and erosion. Arches often form within the apex of a rock alcove whereas brides evolve from erosion within a stream channel.

Is there a dinosaur footprint here?
Yes. A single dinosaur footprint, likely a Dilophosaurus, lies in the second viewing area, closest to the bridge. This two legged, three-toed carnivorous dinosaur walked through this area 190-200 million years ago. The footprint is roughly 15 yards to the immediate right when you step off the paved trail onto the sandstone viewing area.

Are there any pictographs or petroglyphs here?
Yes. There is one petroglyph that is likely of late 19th or early 20th century Navajo origin. There is also an example of historic graffiti (over 50 years old) on the canyon wall near the 2nd viewing area. You will see a series of numbers and an animal shaped like a bull. This is located off to the left of the trail approx. 50 yards from the 2nd viewing area. Note, it is illegal to carve/deface any stone surface.

What are all the black stains on the canyon walls?
The shiny, black/blue patches on the wall consist primarily of manganese, or iron oxide. The vertical, matte black streaks are formed by water and organic material flowing over the sandstone during times of rain. A black horizontal line bisecting the canyon wall near the 2nd viewing area represents an ancient wadi, or freshwater stream.

Why does water drip out of rock in the canyon?
This water frequently drips out of the rock at a junction between two different layers or formations of sandstone. The upper layer of Navajo sandstone is more porous than the lower layer of Kayenta sandstone, thus water exits the rock at the top of the Kayenta layer. This junction is called a seep.

Can you hike to Rainbow Bridge?
Yes. Two 16-18 mile back-country hiking trails exist around the circumference of Navajo Mt. Hiking is not recommended late Spring through early Fall because of extreme temperatures and sparse water. A back-country permit is required from the Navajo Nation before hiking or camping on Navajo lands.

What are the metal cables and hooks in the canyon walls?
These attachment devices represent various mooring points for the floating dock within the canyon. As the water level of Lake Powell rises or falls, maintenance personnel relocate the floating dock closer or further from Rainbow Bridge to accommodate visitors.

Did You Know?

Najsa Begay and Zane Gray

Author Zane Gray (pictured right) loved to visit Rainbow Bridge and set the scenery of many of his books in this landscape.