Navajo Mountain, Rainbow Bridge
By: John Vitz
We were expecting a small turnout for the Thanksgiving trip to Northern Arizona and the actual attendance exceeded our best dreams. We arrived an hour late at the meeting place but found that we had left no one waiting.
So, without further ado, we found the jeep road leading to the Summit and drove until it became too steep to continue. We climbed the last 2500 ft. along the road, through the beautiful ponderosa forest, past impressive sandstone cliffs and overlooking ever changing vistas of Navajo Country. While there was some haze, Monument Valley was visible to the east.
The snow was about three feet deep on the top and the temperature was about 20°F. We could find no register so we left a makeshift one. Due to a leg injury, we got back after dark. After camping in a wash out of the wind, we drove to Rainbow Lodge. The abandoned buildings have been virtually destroyed by scavengers.
Here we met two others and we set off down the well marked trail towards the bridge. For five miles it contours the base of the mountain, crossing a number of canyons. It then drops down along slope into the bottom of Cliff Canyon. At about eight miles, a permanent spring is encountered.
By this time our couple had decided to take three days and so had fallen behind. A mile or so down stream the trail goes into a side canyon, over a low pass and down into Bridge Canyon. Here we came on a permanent stream which is followed a few miles to the bridge.
Cliff and Bridge Canyons contain some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen, and the bridge is a fitting climax to this incredible trip. It must be much more of an experience walking through these canyons to the bridge than walking up the litter strewn trail from the lake.
Early Saturday we started back up the fourteen mile trail to the lodge. As on the two preceding days, the weather was perfect and we arrived at the car feeling almost ecstatic. Sunday we played tourist, visiting Marble Gorge, the Coral Dunes outside of Kanab and running through Zion. To all those of you who stayed-home or have decided for some reason not to climb Navajo, we extend our sympathy. In technical difficulty, Navajo leaves much to be desired, but its scenic grandeur may be compared favorably to all but a few peaks on the list. It is a gateway to the incredible canyon country south of the river.
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