Rainbow Bridge National Park, Lake Powell

View of Rainbow Bridge across Lake Powell.

Spanning 275 feet, the Rainbow Bridge is the largest natural bridge in the world. It was formed by the action of Bridge Creek as it flowed down from the Navajo Mountain Gradually, an amazing sandstone arch was formed. The Paiute and Navajo tribes named the bridge Nonnezoshe which means “rainbow turned to stone.” For centuries, the Rainbow Bridge was considered a sacred spot by the Native American tribes who in habited the area.

After World War II, the popularity of river running in Glen Canyon made Rainbow Bridge more accessible to more people. By 1963, the gates on the Glen Canyon Dam were closed. This caused the waters of Lake Powell began to rise, which in turn facilitated more frequent motor boat access to Rainbow Bridge. As a result, thousands of people began to visit the Rainbow Bridge National Monument each year. Although this was great for tourism, the Native Americans who inhabited the outskirts of Rainbow Bridge Utah were not pleased. In an attempt to protect the religious sites against Lake Powell’s rising waters, in 1974 neighboring Navajo tribes filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Secretary of the Interior, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Director of the National Park Service. The Court ruled against the Navajo.