Rainbow Bridge

March 1974

By: Bob Michael



For five days centering around the third weekend of March, four Boulder, Cob, residents took advantage of the far-flungedness of Desert Peaks to bag one that must be at least as accessible to us as to LA-Navajo Mountain. We also backpacked overland to Rainbow Bridge. As finding the roadhead to the Bridge is somewhat confusing, I would like to elaborate on the rather sketchy directions in the Jan-Feb. Newsletter. Approaching from the south, about 29 miles from the pavement you will see a church to the east-slow down, Soon a prominent fork goes to the left with a sign indicating many features, including a branding corral and vocational school, but NOT Rainbow Bridge. Take this left fork and follow it to its end, staying on the most heavily traveled road and veering neither sharply left or right. Just after you pass an isolated white slickrock dome on your right, you should see a "No Treaspassing" (SIC) sign indicating that "tourist" bound for the Bridge should make a very hard right. You can go a few hundred more yards in a car, to a modern masonry well. Don't try to drive a standard car past the gully that has washed out the road here. Better to walk the 2 miles to the Rainbow Lodge ruins than maim your machine, as the last stretch of the road is all terrible.

The trip to Rainbow Bridge would be worth-while even if there was nothing unusual at the end. The 13 mile trail contours the southwest flank of Navajo Mountain for 5 miles and then descends into the Zion-like magnificence of Cliff Canyon, with sheer tapestried walls often over a thousand feet high. The trail is washed out in places here, but the spacious canyon floors are gentle, and ducked makeshift trails create no real problems. The trail then turns right over Redbud Pass, not left as in the previous write-up. Once over the Pass, another 3 miles of meandering canyon brings you to the Bridge. Go soon if you want to see it in its natural setting, with its sculptor creek flowing underneath; the cloudy dead waters of "Lake" Powell are advancing and began only a couple hundred yards downstream. A perfect sandy campsite at stream level 300 yards upstream is also doomed. Watching the stars of the warm desert night, it was hard to picture leaving gray Boulder two days earlier in a snowstorm. Belying the heat of the canyons, the summit plateau of Navajo Mountain was several feet deep in snow. The snow was no problem, however, as the infamous road had been roughly plowed to allow access to the Diesel-drenched mechanical squalor on top. Strange that the Navajos get so uptight at the "defilements" of rock climbers, and yet, have condoned far worse monkey business on their highest, most prominent, and thus, it would seem, most sacred summit.

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