Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah, United States, North America, World

Source CC BY-SA 3.0 Bernard Spragg

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Utah, United States, North America, World


Rainbow Bridge National Monument is administered by Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, southern Utah, United States. 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 (84 m), but a laser measurement in 2007 has resulted in a span of 234 feet (71 m). At the top it is 42 feet (13 m) thick and 33 feet (10 m) wide. The bridge, which is of cultural importance to a number of area Native American tribes, has been designated a Traditional Cultural Property by the National Park Service.



Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah, United States, North America, World

Source CC BY-SA 3.0 Bernard Spragg

Two other natural arches, Kolob Arch and Landscape Arch, both also in southern Utah, have confirmed spans several meters longer than Rainbow Bridge, but by most definitions of the terms they are considered to be arches rather than bridges. With a height of 290 feet (88 m) Rainbow Bridge does indeed stand taller than either of its longer competitors, but it is outdone by Aloba Arch in Chad at 394 feet (120 m). The world's tallest (though less easily accessible) arch is Töshük Tagh, better known as Shipton's Arch, in China at an estimated 1,200 feet (370 m). Finally, Xianren Bridge (also known as Fairy Bridge), in Guangxi Province, China, with a span of about 295 feet (90 m), and a height of the opening of 210 feet (64 m), appears to be the natural bridge with the largest span in the world.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah, United States, North America, World

Source CC BY 2.0 Andy Morffew

Rainbow Bridge is one of the most accessible of the large arches of the world. It can be reached by a two-hour boat ride on Lake Powell from either of two marinas near Page, Arizona, followed by a mile-long walk from the National Park wharf in Bridge Canyon, or by hiking several days overland from a trailhead on the south side of Lake Powell (obtain a permit from the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, Arizona).

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah, United States, North America, World

Source CC BY 2.0 markbyzewski

Rainbow Bridge is made from sandstone originally deposited by wind as sand dunes, during the end of the Triassic and the Jurassic periods. Extreme fluctuations in climate during the Triassic and Jurassic periods—the region was alternately a sea and desert on par with the Sahara—produced layers of sandstone with different levels of hardness. By the end of the Jurassic, the sea returned to cover these layers of sandstone and compressed them so tightly that they would persist until the present day.



Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah, United States, North America, World

Source CC BY-SA 3.0 Bernard Spragg

As Bridge Creek flowed toward the growing Colorado River during the last ice age, it carved first through softer rocks and veered away from the harder Triassic and Jurassic sandstones, eventually creating a wide hairpin bend that flowed around a solid "fin" of sandstone that would become Rainbow Bridge. The previous course of the creek is still visible above the bridge. Water flows back on itself at bends and wide spots, creating swirling eddies along the banks. As the creek flowed around Rainbow Bridge fin, these abrasive eddies formed on both the upstream and downstream sides and cut circular alcoves in the rock wall. The sediment in the creek eventually scoured the softer layers of sandstone away, leaving the harder layers behind.

Images


en.wikipedia.org

Location


37°4'38"N 110°57'52"W

37.07722 -110.96417

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