Date of visit: Wednesday November 11th, 2015
Attractions/Places of Interest:
Located just North of the border dividing Utah and Arizona, Rainbow Bridge National Monument is an amazing geological structure holding the title of the world’s largest natural rock bridge. The NPS website does a great job detailing two main trails (North trail and South trail) you can hike to get to this natural wonder. Each trail is about 17.5 miles long (keep in mind you need to get back to the trailhead too, so multiply that by two).
While I’m sure the hiking trails are a great experience, in the interest of time and saving our energy for the hikes we planned for the following day we took a different route. We instead chose to take advantage of the beautiful Lake Powell the national monument is located on and chartered a small boat through Forever Resorts. This was a much more unique experience and we got to relax with some beers while on cruise control instead of killing ourselves in 35 miles of desert. A hike that long would take a minimum of two days according to NPS.
While I highly recommend taking the route we did, it was a bit pricey. We had the advantage of splitting costs six ways (total came out to $470 for the boat rental and another $200 for fuel, so roughly $120/person). If you have no boating experience, you may want to speak with the company about the possibility of hiring a captain as that was not included. All day guided boat tours are also available at www.lakepowell.com
Once we docked the boat, the hike to the bridge was a short and easy one. We walked about half a mile along mostly flat rock with gradual elevation increase as you get closer to the bridge. This area is extremely remote and we were the only people there…quite a serene feeling to have a place like this all to yourself.
Tip: If you end up renting a boat, make sure you do not leave any food out in the open after you dock it. We had some cleanup to do after some seagulls had a little party while we were away.
Photo and Travel Gear:
I would recommend bringing a super-wide angle lens like the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 or Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 since this bridge is BIG. The closer you get to it while still fitting it in the frame the better and bigger it looks due to the perspective. You can also use a mid-level zoom (i.e. Nikon 24-70 f/2.8) if you do not own a SWA lens. It is personal preference and dependant on the time of day you’re shooting if you want to bring a tripod. The real key here to a great image (as always) is the lighting and weather conditions. One thing for certain is to leave the telephoto in the car…no reason to bring that along.
As discussed in previous posts, this is another excursion where I would highly recommend having offline maps available on your phone. Cell service is not necessary to acquire a GPS signal, so you will still be able to use your phone to help you navigate the lake. There are a lot of turns and bays as you are heading towards the bridge and it can be very easy to get lost.