Rainbow Bridge, Lake Powell, Arizona - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-18-2016, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
Off the Beaten Path
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: ALBANY, OR, USA.
Interest: SEA KAYAKING HIKING FISHING
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Default Rainbow Bridge, Lake Powell, Arizona


RainbowBridgeNational Monument
This is a trip I did in February, 2015 as part of a loop down through the southwest U.S. where I hiked in Death Valley, went to Clear Creek in the Grand Canyon, and paddled to RainbowBridge via LakePowell. While more of a paddling trip than hiking, the visit to RainbowBridge can be either, depending on your preference. To get from the boat landing to the arch, a hike is required along a well established trail of about 1 ľ mile.

RainbowBridge is a national monument located in Utah, just north of the Arizona border. Page, Arizona is one of the more notable towns in the area. The monument site is accessible either by boat or hiking, no drive-in. I had planned, on two previous attempts, to visit this area several years ago, one time paddling in from the Bullfrog Marina and the other by hiking into the monument using trails originating on Navajo reservation lands. For a variety of reasons neither attempt panned out. February, 2015, I again headed south to pursue the goal, an attempt to paddle from Wahweap marina, up LakePowell to the monument. If you recall, 2015 was another drought year for the southwest with little snow in the Rockies. I anticipated that lake levels would be low due to the drought and because winter snow melt would not yet have occurred.
Accessing RainbowBridge using overland routes
Rainbow Bridge National Monument can be reached by way of two hiking trails whose trailheads are located in the vicinity of Navajo Mountain on tribal lands. The north trail goes around the north side of Navajo Mountain while the south trail is routed on the other side. Each trail has its own trailhead. Thought it would be an interesting loop hike if the distance between the two trailheads was manageable. The trails are supposedly not well marked and in rough condition. There appears to be water re-supply points on both trails. Flashfloods can be an issue during certain times of the year.
Here is a link to information describing the north and south trails starting near Navajo Mountain on the Navajo Tribal Lands.
http://www.glencanyonnha.org/hiking-...ainbow-bridge/

This is a National Park guide for both the north and south trails:
http://www.nps.gov/rabr/planyourvisi...activities.htm

February 15, I arrived at Wahweap marina, camping at a nearby park, after stopping in at grocery stores in Page to resupply. As you might imagine, it’s not the high season this time of year so few people were around. Nights were pretty cold on this trip, below freezing, but the days still quite nice with sun and little wind. Daylight during this time of year is a bit limiting so activities have to be planned for the early sunsets. It took a bit getting used to as I approached late afternoon and needed to begin looking for a campsite quite quickly.

Launch day the next morning was great. I had the ramp all to myself; in fact the entire parking lot around the marina was empty. Quickly loaded up my 17 foot seakayak and headed out onto the lake. Most of the maps I found for Lake Powell illustrate a “full pool” condition so it makes for an interesting visual comparison between what I see in front of me and what is on the map. Route finding involves looking for high points, using the deck compass, and looking at the GPS. Progress was generally good although with the lower water I found that I had to stick more to the marked river channel rather than being able to cut across areas that might be underwater at full pool. Arrived at the tip of Kane Pt later in the afternoon and felt that I better not pass up a camp spot given the hour of the day. As I was sitting inside my tent later on, I began to hear a roar coming down the lake, almost like a jet or plane flying low over the water. Turns out it was a blast of wind shear from the east. It was so strong it taco’d my tent, pushing it down on top of me, quite hard in fact. I doubt the tent would have stayed put without me in it, no matter the stakes I used to secure it. Fortunately, the wind quickly diminished and no pole damage to the tent. Lesson learned to not leave a tent unattended or make sure its put up in a bomb-proof site sheltered from any wind blasts.


Continued on up the lake the next day, figuring that I could get close to Rainbow Bridge, likely falling short by a few miles. About 50 miles from Wahweap to the monument and I had covered just under Ĺ the distance the first day. Once you move past Wild Horse Bar, the lake narrows more into a canyon and wind susceptibility increases. Something I have to keep in mind. I explore a few side canyons and see hundreds of carp feeding right at the waterline inside these sheltered waterways. The channel marker into Rainbow Bridge is #49 . I went by #46 before making camp so I should be able to make it into the arch in the morning. It was tough finding a campsite given all of the slickrock and few flat spots to be found. Only a few power boats go by.


One note: this is a “pack out your poo” lake. The are some floating toilets positioned in a few places but not really workable for human-powered watercraft. I brought along several WAG bags.

Wednesday, Feb 18th, made it to Rainbow Bridge. Quite interesting winding around back into the area where a dock is setup for the larger tour boats that bring in visitors. Not sure I would have found it if not for the signs and markers.

For the most part I had the entire lake to myself except for a few park people checking on some trail work that had just completed.
Pushed on back down the lake after a bit of time at the arch. Had some tailwind for awhile, managing to reach Wild Horse Bar before calling it a day. Some really nice views from camp with nice evening sun.

Thought I might be able to make it back to the marina if I pushed hard on day 4 and didn’t encounter any difficult wind. It was a bit monotonous paddling back the same way I came but I got into a rhythm and managed to crank out the miles, reaching the marina with about an hour of daylight to spare. Energy sagged a bit at the end but once I started down the final channel, the motivation picked up and carried me through to the end.
Flickr album link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118267...57650680959168
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Last edited by alpalmer; 01-18-2016 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Flickr link
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 01:15 PM
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Southern Utah and Northern Arizona have some of the world's most interesting geology. We're heading back for another trip to that area next fall and will be sure to take in the sights you've mentioned in this TR. Thanks much for all the great info.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 01:20 PM
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Fantastic trip. I was lucky enough to visit Rainbow Bridge quite a while ago while houseboating on the lake. I'm sorry to say that I used a jet ski to cover most of the distance in about 2 hours. I did enjoy lots of kayaking on the lake however as I usually had it onboard the houseboat.


Did some sand skiing on a boogie board into the lake as well. Did numerous fun hikes on the sandstone.
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if you're not hiking you should be skiing
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 02:12 PM
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Thanks for a different perspective on this amazing area. Some photos from the overland route are here:
https://forums.clubtread.com/35-other...ch-2008-a.html
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 02:55 PM
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What a fantastic report, with loads of super-useful info!

I visited the bridge in early May 2014; camped few nights by Lake Powell, then just took tourist boat package. Main problem with such approach is lack of freedom to explore -- and of course no sense of accomplishment. Your way is way, way better; I mentally shelved overland (hiking) visit for sometime in the future. This needs to be planned ahead because of permit issues, water etc.

But it is hard not to feel magnificence as you crest the hill and arch appears in front of you! I left the hordes behind and quickly hiked to the other side of the arch; you are not supposed to walk under the arch, but there is trail around on the side. On the other side there is plaque in the rock, commemorating "Piute Nasjah Begay who first guided the white man to Nonnezoshi August 1909":




Here is the shot of the arch as I made my way around it on left side (as you come in from tourist boat launch):



By the way, there is LOTS of fish in that lake (can not remember if fishing was allowed)
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