On Wednesday we had a reservation for the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour on Lake Powell. They run the trip once a day in the winter, departing at 7:30 AM, and twice a day in the summer beginning on May 15th, with the second trip leaving at 12:30 PM. Since Wednesday was May 15th and we don’t like to get up too early, we opted for the later trip. The tour departs from the Wahweap Resort Marina, just a mile from our RV site, so we could ride our bicycles to the resort. The only complication was the departure time. Wahweap Resort and Campground, where we are staying, is just south of the state line between Utah and Arizona. Arizona does not follow daylight savings time, so they are one hour behind Utah. But since we came here from Utah, and we are going back into Utah on Sunday, we opted not to change our clocks since we don’t usually care about the exact time anyhow (come on, we’re retired!). But the tour boat company follows Arizona time, so we needed to be careful so as to arrive on time. Aah, the complications of life!
We did manage to handle all the mathematics involved and arrived right on time to board the boat. It is a relatively small tour boat with an enclosed lower deck and an open upper deck with a 35 seat limit. We opted for the upper deck to better enjoy the views.
Once under way we were able to move around the deck, as most passengers opted for the lower deck to avoid the strong winds. The headphones in the picture below attach to a receiver you where around your neck. Periodically there is a narrative broadcasted with information about scenic points.
The resort is located along Wahweap Canyon. The Navajo translation of Wahweap is roughly bitter water, as the water in the creek here before the dam was full of minerals and apparently didn’t taste good.
After about two miles we entered what is the Colorado River portion of Lake Powell, with the Glen Canyon Dam and bridge on our right.
We then headed north for a two and a half hour journey to our destination, passing numerous beautiful rock formations all around us.
About five miles from the dam we passed Antelope Marina, a new facility being built by the Navajo Nation. It was full of large houseboats, one of the most popular type of boats on Lake Powell.
We continued north on the lake, enjoying the views despite the high winds that bothered our hair!
At times the lake became narrow as it moved through a canyon.
At other times it became very wide.
After almost two and a half hours we turned sharply to the east and headed into a narrow canyon, on the final leg of our journey.
The boat easily fit through the canyon, but at times it felt like you could just reach out and touch the canyon walls.
As the boat made its way through the twists and turns, a sign occasionally provided directions.
We then reached the end of deep water, where a small dock allowed us to tie up for a hike up to our destination.
The lake is about a hundred feet lower than capacity, so a hike of a bit less than a mile is necessary.
As you round a final turn in the canyon, our destination begins to appear.
Finally there it is, Rainbow Bridge!
Rainbow Bridge is often described as the world’s highest natural bridge. The span of Rainbow Bridge was reported in 1974 by the Bureau of Reclamation to be 275 feet, but a laser measurement in 2007 has resulted in a span of 234 feet. At the top it is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide.
After a layover of an hour and a half to enjoy the bridge, we returned to the boat and headed back through the narrow canyon.
The return trip was into the wind, so we took a bit of a beating all the way back. But the views all around us made it worth staying on the upper deck.
This trip is a bit expensive, but unless you have your own boat (or wish to rent one), its the only way to get to Rainbow Bridge and also see a good portion of Lake Powell. We highly recommend it!