Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Rainbow Trail

This 27-mile, 5-day trek circumnavigates Navajo Mountain and leads to Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural bridge in the world.
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This 27-mile, 5-day trek circumnavigates Navajo Mountain and leads to Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural bridge in the world.

More Info: For permits write: Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department, P.O. Box 2520, Window Rock, AZ 86515 (928) 871-6647. Allow several weeks.
For shuttle service, call Leo Manheimer in Rainbow City, (928) 672-2408.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 43.4

Waypoints

RBT001

Location: 36.994236, -110.8938293

South Trailhead: The trail gently climbs to the N through a scrub forest (cairns mark the route). Pack enough water for 24 hours, including camp. The first reliable water source is 7 miles into this 27-mile circumambulate of Navajo Mountain.

RBT002

Location: 36.9997253, -110.9013367

Trail quickly dips into First Canyon. In a short bit, you'll cross the Arizona-Utah border.

Rainbow Lodge

Location: 36.9966278, -110.894455

Check out the old Rainbow Lodge ruins, once a thriving business owned by Barry Goldwater.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

RBT003

Location: 37.0062561, -110.9093246

Trail slips in and out of Horse Canyon (dry creekbed)

RBT004

Location: 37.0246468, -110.9221268

Sunset Pass: From here, the trail drops 1,800 feet into Cliff Canyon. Walking sticks recommended.

Sunset Pass

Location: 37.0241737, -110.9217682

There's plenty of space for 6-8 people to camp (no water).
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

RBT005

Location: 37.0393066, -110.9449997

Descend into the main fork of Cliff Canyon (fill water containers when possible)

Big Views

Location: 37.0234795, -110.9213104

The views from Sunset Pass stretch to Cummings Mesa, Navajo Mountain, and into Glen Canyon.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

RBT006

Location: 37.0469742, -110.9633484

This junction features a Navajo Hogan, a home for religious ceremonies, rock art, and a good camping or lunch spot with water. From here, leave Cliff Canyon and head E up steep, well-marked trail to Redbud Pass.

RBT007

Location: 37.0612106, -110.9485703

After climbing over Redbud Pass, descend to Redbud Creek and head downstream.

RBT008

Location: 37.0664101, -110.9542007

South Rainbow Trail meets the North Rainbow Trail. Continue downstream towards Rainbow Bridge, twisting along the creek bottom and occasional rock benches.

RBT009

Location: 37.0751152, -110.9559402

Echo Camp Alcove: This is the best spot to make camp near Rainbow Bridge. There's water, a large overhang, and oddly even several bed frames with springs (see photo). Drop packs and head NW on good trail to Rainbow Bridge.

RBT010

Location: 37.0770569, -110.9641037

Rainbow Bridge: This sacred and world's largest natural bridge stands 290 ft. and spans 275 ft. across. Please refrain from walking under the bridge, as requested by the Navajo Indians. Return to camp then backtrack to Waypoint 8, and head up the N Fork.

Rock Art

Location: 37.0470886, -110.9632034

Rock art decorates the red walls. Take photos but do not touch.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

RBT011

Location: 37.0645561, -110.9337006

Trail leaves Bridge Canyon; look for the switchbacks to the E, marked with a big cairn.

RBT012

Location: 37.0721397, -110.9181137

Trail skirts around a fork of Oak Canyon. Once on the canyon rim, continue following the trail E.

RBT013

Location: 37.0751305, -110.9111099

Pleasant campsites with an adjacent stream make this a perfect overnight spot. To continue, take switchbacks up the E side of Oak.

Super Dome

Location: 37.0667648, -110.9544067

One crimson dome in an alluring red sea of slickrock formations concealing Lake Powell.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

RBT014

Location: 37.0909157, -110.8845215

A small creek near Owl Bridge provides water. Good flat spots for campsites too. Continue E on trail, slowly ascending into Surprise Valley.

RBT015

Location: 37.1046638, -110.8527451

Descend a steep trail into Bald Rock Canyon. Another camp with a reliable water source sits near the creek. From here, go SE up Bald Rock Canyon.

A Bed to Rest

Location: 37.0750999, -110.9555664

These bed frames were brought by the original operators of the Rainbow Lodge.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

RBT016

Location: 37.1025772, -110.8478546

Trail climbs out of Bald Rock Canyon. After rising several hundred feet, you'll emerge onto the rim with great views. Keep heading E on marked trail.

Rainbow Bridge

Location: 37.0776443, -110.9641266

Rainbow Bridge is not only a natural wonder carved by wind and water but also a sacred sanctuary for the Navajo. © Grant Palmer

RBT017

Location: 37.0930977, -110.8242416

Keep straight; trail veers above Cha Canyon, a narrow sandstond wonderland with waterfalls and petroglyphs. Learn more about Cha Canyon at:

www.trimbleoutdoors.com/backpacker/ViewTrip.aspx?TripID=12303

RBT018

Location: 37.0941811, -110.8130188

End @ North trailhead

Bridge Canyon

Location: 37.0649147, -110.9340363

Backpackers head out of Bridge Canyon.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

Redrock Domes

Location: 37.0755615, -110.9108887

Trail overlooks blond and pink domes near Oak Canyon.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

Owl Bridge

Location: 37.0919952, -110.8842697

Owl Bridge, a 50-foot high natural bridge, makes a prime break or camp spot.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

Bald Rock Canyon

Location: 37.1051903, -110.8527908

This is a spacious and protected campsite with water nearby.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

Rim

Location: 37.1031075, -110.8481598

The views on the rim of Bald Rock Canyon are nothing short of spectacular.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)

End of Hike

Location: 37.0947723, -110.8129807

Hikers near the end of the Rainbow Bridge Trail.
© Elias Butler (www.eliasbutler.com)