Backpack to Rainbow Bridge

Rate this Adventure Arizona Wahweap RV Campground

Added by Jessica Schultz

Enjoy a backpacking trip to Rainbow Bridge, a 234 foot sandstone natural arch.

This incredible trip isn't only about Rainbow Bridge. Honestly, the Bridge is just icing on the cake.

The scenery is breathtaking along the way, changing and evolving as you pass through epic canyons and climb over rocky ledges to be rewarded with spanning vistas. It really is amazing. There's even a teaser bridge hiding in a canyon along the way.

A little bit of a logistical effort, this trip requires a Navajo permit (secured well in advance by snail mail), a several hour car shuttle from Wahweap Marina to the trailhead, the 17+ mile hike itself, and arrangements to be picked up by boat when you arrive to the bridge.

Be forewarned that this is not an easy trail, you'll have to work for your reward. In addition to being remote, there's a decent amount of AEG as you climb up and down through the canyons. The trail itself varies between a pleasant pathway, rocky footing, flat unmarked slickrock, and sand. Make sure you have a map, because the trail isn't always well marked.

Spring is the best time for this trip, allowing you to avoid the heat of the summer, the limited water in fall, and the snow of the winter. It's possible to do this in two days, but I recommend spending more than one night in the canyon. There are several places to camp along the two different trails and there is so much to explore and enjoy.

It's important to note that the arch itself is sacred. Most visitors come by boat and only ever see the front side of the bridge; they are not permitted up near or underneath it. When backpacking, however, you approach the bridge from the back and must pass beneath it to get to the marina where your shuttle awaits. It almost feels disrespectful, but it's pretty amazing to cross underneath the towering arch.

After a few days of hiking, you board the boat and enjoy the spectacular ride through Lake Powell on the way back to your car. If you're smart, you've left a cooler of beverages with the boat crew to crack open as you get underway.

Pack List

  • Backpacking gear (including a water filter)
  • Map, compass, GPS
  • Permit and travel arrangements
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Spring, Autumn, Winter

Trail Type:



17 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2800 Feet



Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Apache Wash Loop Trail

Arizona / Apache Wash Trailhead

This hike begins at the Apache Wash Trailhead where you will find restrooms and a covered rest area.

Dan Deublein
2 Saves

Hike the Abineau-Bear Jaw Loop

Arizona / Abineau-Bear Jaw loop

This trail is slightly more hidden on the northern slope of the San Francisco Peaks, but well worth the drive just outside of Flagstaff.

Kevin Kaminski
45 Saves

Camp At Waheap Campground

Arizona / Wahweap RV Campground

This modern campground is just steps from the beach and centrally located on the Arizona / Utah border -- perfect for exploring both sides of the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area.

Kelly Park
5 Saves