Home » 2003 Cross Country Road Trip

Lake Powell - Wahweap, UT

Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 9:00am by Lolo
71 miles and 1.5 hours from our last stop - 3 night stay


Lake Powell holds the distinction of being our family's unanimous choice for best place ever visited. It was stunningly beautiful--but so were many of the other places we had seen. What set Lake Powell apart for us was that not only was it nice to look at, but it was so much fun to play in.

Romance on Lake PowellRomance on Lake PowellLake Powell had long been a dream destination for us. We had been thwarted the previous year when Herb became ill with an undiagnosed fever, forcing us to cancel our houseboat reservations. Now, we had finally made it and we were quite enthused to be here. This year, however, our plans here were a bit more modest. Our friends who usually travel with us were unable to join us this year, so instead of renting a houseboat, we were going to spend 3 nights RV camping on the lake at the Wahweap Resort and Marina in Page, Arizona. We had our faithful Avon inflatable raft with 6 hp motor to explore the lake in and a ski boat reserved at State Line Marina for a day of water sports.

Since we were actually arriving a day earlier than planned, our first order of business was finding a campsite. I suggested just moving our reservation up a day at Wahweap; however, Herb wanted to check out the primitive beach camping on Lone Rock Beach on the westernmost end of Wahweap Bay. I must admit, the Lone Rock location was stunning and we were definitely tempted. However, the intense heat (with no electricity for air conditioning) and the soft sand (to trap our motor home in) persuaded us to head over to Wahweap.

Boy's demonstrating use of the mudslideBoy's demonstrating use of the mudslideNot only were we able to get a campsite at Wahwap a day early, but we got what I consider to be the one of the best sites--all the way on the end with an unobstructed view of the lake--much better than looking out over a sea of RVs.

We couldn't wait to get out on the lake. The temperature was over 100 and the water looked extremely inviting. Down at the boat launch, we quickly inflated our 12-foot Avon raft and filled it with everything we would need for a day of fun out on the lake. While our 6 hp motor was not exactly going to zip us around the lake, it would enable us to do some slow-speed, close-up exploration of the many coves and canyons in Wahweap Bay.

Herb: "Doesn't get much better"Herb: "Doesn't get much better"The southern portion of Wahweap Bay, which we were on, is quite commercial and developed, so our goal was to cross the 3 miles over to the secluded canyons on the northern side of the bay. While the blowup boat is pretty slow--it took us about 45 minutes to make the 3-mile crossing--it really comes into its own as a means of exploring nooks and crannies.

Our first stop was at a cliff-like rock that the boys felt just had to be jumped off. After a dozen or so cannonballs, "eggies", and other assorted jumps and dives, we continued our journey into one of the side canyons off the main part of the lake.

I'm not sure what canyon we were in. The lake levels were so low from a multi-year drought that it was hard to tell on the map just where we were. Antelope Island isn't even an island anymore because the north side of it is now attached to the shore, and some of the coves and canyons are just beaches. The low water levels have been a really big problem for the marinas and many of them have had to extend their docks to reach the water. If things don't change soon, many people fear that Lake Powell will be gone someday soon. I certainly hope not. It took us so long to discover this wonderful place and I hope to have it to come back to for many years to come.

Lolo: "Doesn't get much better"Lolo: "Doesn't get much better"We pulled our trusty craft right up onto the beach and spent the afternoon swimming in the warm 80+ degree waters of the lake. The warmth wasn't the only good thing about the water--it was this beautiful aquamarine color, like the Caribbean, and its reflection shimmered off the canyon walls. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Soon, however, the clouds began to build, and we knew we had better get moving fast or we wouldn't make it back across the bay before the storm. Well, we made it about halfway before the winds picked up and the rain began. What a difference. Now there were whitecaps and dozens of high-speed powerboats zipping past us in their attempts to outrun the storm. We, however, just kept putting along at 3 mph, wind and water whipping us in the face. Finally, an excruciating hour later, we putted into State Line Marina, looking like a bunch of drowned rats. I think they must have felt sorry for us because they let us keep our boat there overnight, for no charge. This was great. Now we didn't have to deflate it, pack it up, and then inflate it again to use tomorrow.

Avon Redshank with 6hp JohnsonAvon Redshank with 6hp JohnsonThe next day was another hot and sunny one, as are most days here in the summer. After listening to a weather forecast and hearing nothing about storms that day, we went down to the marina, boarded our rubber yacht and headed back across Wahweap Bay to the canyon area we were the day before. This time we ventured further into the canyon and found an idyllic sandy beach and smooth rock to spend the day on. Without another soul in sight, we felt like castaways marooned on a deserted island. There was much there to entertain us for the entire day. The kids spent an hour spreading mud on a steep, slanty rock to create a mudslide, and then spent another hour sliding down it. When that was done, they created a game which involved chucking a "pinky" ball against the steep canyon wall next to the beach and seeing how many times they could catch it on a fly. There just wasn't enough hours in that day to do all they wanted to do.

As evening approached, we set out once again in our boat to cross the bay---this time for a much less eventful crossing. We putted our trusted little boat over to the public launch where we cleaned it, deflated it, and packed it away in its not-so-little bag. It had served us well, but we didn't need it anymore. Tomorrow was our day on the rental ski boat, which we all were quite excited about.

Gaidus Family photoGaidus Family photoThe next morning we awoke very early to make the most of our day out on the lake. We were at State Line Marina as they opened and out on the lake before 8:00 a.m. Knowing that skiing is best in the early part of the day when the lake is still calm, we immediately headed to Lone Rock in the westernmost part of the bay. It was the best ski conditions we had ever experienced--the lake was like glass and there wasn't another boat in sight. Also, the scenery wasn't too shabby. The kids had a great time skiing and wakeboarding around Lone Rock, the huge monolith that rises several hundred feet out of the lake. Despite the kids' urgings to try wakeboarding, I stuck with my trusty skis and enjoyed the best skiing of my life. I'm not the most experienced boat driver, but I really didn't want Herb to miss this opportunity. After convincing him that there was no other boat out on the lake for me to hit and promising not to smash into Lone Rock, he agreed to let me drive the boat while he skied. He was definitely glad he did--it was definitely a not-to-be-missed ski experience.

Boy's exploring the canyonBoy's exploring the canyonOnce we had gotten our fill of skiing, we headed up the lake to do some exploring. The narrow portion of the lake that winds around the southern end of Antelope Island was very rough due to the heavy traffic of boats leaving the busy Wahweap Marina. As soon as we could, we got off the main part of the lake and headed south into the very beautiful Navajo Canyon, which is one of the bigger ones--it's about 10 miles long. Of course the kids wanted to wakeboard through the Canyon as they had vicariously done in a Playstation Game, but we kept telling them it wasn't allowed in the canyons. Finally, after we saw enough other boats doing it and felt it was wide enough to be safe, we let them have their second ultimate wakeboarding experience of the day.

We spent the few remaining hours we had with the rental boat back in Wahweap Bay at the beach we had discovered the day before. I'm sure that if the lake levels recover, this beach will be gone and the canyon will look completely different. However, with the help of our videos and photographs, it will remain in our memories as one of our favorite places on Earth.


Lake Powell is the centerpiece of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area's 1.25 million acres of beautiful desert and canyon country. It is considered by many to be one of the most scenic lakes in the country, with its clear turquoise water surrounded by red sandstone rock formations and steep remote side canyons.

Lolo adjusting to a rare moment of solitudeLolo adjusting to a rare moment of solitudeLake Powell is the second largest man-made lake in the country (Lake Meade is the largest), stretching 186 miles from Page, Arizona to Hite, Utah. Its 1,960 miles of shoreline with its hundreds of bays, coves, and canyons provides seemingly limitless opportunities for exploration by boat, truly the best way to access the beauty of this area.

For those that don't have their own boat, there are boat tours to various destinations on the lake, such as Rainbow Bridge, the world's largest natural bridge, and numerous marinas from which to rent boats for fishing, skiing, or houseboating. Houseboating has become an extremely popular activity on the lake.

The main base for people visiting Lake Powell is the Wahweap Resort and Marina in Page, Arizona. Facilities here include a marina, lodging, restaurants and shops, boat tours, and a campground. Also near Page are the Glen Canyon Dam and the Carl Hayden Visitor Center.

Other less accessible points to the lake include Hite, Bullfrog Bay, and Halls Crossing, all of which are in Utah.

  • Halls Crossing, which is reached from Blanding, Utah, via state highways, has a ranger station, launch ramp, marina, store, housekeeping units, and two campgrounds.
  • Bullfrog Bay is reached from Hanksville, Utah, via paved state highways. Facilities include a visitor center, launch ramp, marina, store, lodging, and two campgrounds. A ferry runs between Halls Crossing and Bullfrog Bay.
  • Hite, at the extreme north of the lake, is reached via the Bicentennial Highway. Facilities include a ranger station, launch ramp, marina, lodging, store, and primitive camping. Many people find the area around Hite to be the most scenic in the recreation area.

The creation of the Glen Canyon Dam across the Colorado River, and the subsequent creation of Lake Powell, was one of the most controversial engineering projects in history, contributing to the birth of the modern day environmental movement. When the dam was completed in 1963, it flooded what was considered by many to be one of the most beautiful canyons in the southwest, the Glen Canyon. Today there is a movement to dismantle the dam and return the area to what it once was.


  • Lake Powell - Wahweap, Raft Boating and Camping
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Lake Powell - Wahweap location map in "high definition"

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