How does that saying going…”the best laid plans of men and mice often go awry”. We had not planned to go to Lake Powell but had reservations in Torrey Utah which would be our base camp to explore Capitol Reef National Park. Well, snow in Torrey just didn’t sit well with either of us so, presto chango, Lake Powell it is.
So glad we have the option to be flexible because we really enjoyed Lake Powell. The bonus was our wonderful friends Tom and Laurie, who are always up for an adventure, drove up from Mesa Az and spent three fun filled days with us exploring the area. Campfires, s’mores, great wine and the evening night cap of Glenfarclas 21 year aged whiskey was a great way to relax after our daily adventures.
Our first day together was a whirl wind of sightseeing, an early morning tour of Lower Antelope Canyon, followed by a short hike to Horseshoe Bend and after lunch, a drive to Lees Ferry Bend.
This remarkable slot canyon is located on Navajo land just outside of Page Arizona and is one of the most photographed slot canyons in the world. Formed over hundreds of years of water running through sandstone, the walls rise 120 feet, twisting and turning to form a spectacular red rock slot canyon. Imagine light beams peaking through a narrow crack in the ground, bouncing off the slot canyon walls, creating a visual feast. Sounds great doesn’t it…well, the only way to see it is to go on a cattle call tour with one of two native guide companies.
Despite being one of hundreds of tourists being funneled through the canyon, the experience was well worth the price of admission. We decided to tour the lower canyon and go early to try to avoid some of the crushing crowds, which turned out to be a great plan.
We got lucky and had a great guide, Julie, who was very knowledgeable AND enthusiastic about the canyon. She regaled our group of 15 people with Navajo culture plus being a photo enthusiast, she also helped us set up some great photographs.
We climbed down ladders, up ladders, filed through the narrow slot walls and despite the large numbers of people, you were often alone and it was surprisingly quiet.
I love how the colors change as light filters into the canyon from high above. Light beams dance off the sides of the walls as the sun moves over the canyon. The textures and colors are amazing and change as you continue your journey.
Our hour in the canyon went to quickly and left me wishing I had all day to linger there in the glow if the red canyon walls minus the mass of people.
From one jaw dropping sight to another, off we went to Horseshoe Bend which is located 5 miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and about 4 miles southwest of Page. Again, be prepared for a mass of people but by going early in the morning there will be less people and the morning color with the sun coming from the east will be beautiful. A short .75 mike hike gets you right to the edge of the overlook where the Colorado River is a mere 1,000-foot down.
Wow, if you are afraid of heights, you may want to just crawl up to the edge and look over as you will be rewarded with jaw dropping beauty. It is amazing to me that in the litigious USA there are no fences here. One could walk right up and simply fall over the edge but fortunately no one did that in our visit!
After a quick lunch, we headed out to Lees Ferry which has a fascinating history of its own and turns out, is also a beautiful place to drop your toes into the ice cold Colorado River.
Lees Ferry is the only place within Glen Canyon where visitors can drive to the Colorado River in over 700 miles of canyon country, right up to the first rapid in the Grand Canyon. A natural corridor between Utah and Arizona, Lees Ferry figured prominently in the exploration and settlement of northern Arizona.
This historical site is downstream from the massive Glen Canyon Dam where the Colorado river was free flowing in the days that the ferry was running. I can only imagine how fierce the river was then as it was really churning when we were there.
If you want the real dirt (think checkered past) behind the man the area was named after, check out this link: http://grandcanyonhistory.clas.asu.edu/sites_coloradorivercorridor_leesferry.html
The area along the river is well marked with information and there are remnants of the old steam ship that eventually sank near the ferry landing in addition to the well preserved buildings.
Bright and early the next morning, we were packed up and ready to head out on our 19 foot Triumph speed boat. Lake Powell is huge and our destination was Rainbow Bridge Arch, some 30 miles across the lake. You can also take the big tour boat from the marina out to this area if you aren’t confident about captaining a boat.
Armed with google maps, a paper map, binoculars, lunch and Bentley, of course, we headed out.
From land the lake is beautiful but from the water its beauty truly unfolds as you navigate its many arms.
Thankfully there are great buoy markers and a few signs as you get close to Rainbow Arch. Truly the only way to see this area of the lake is by boat or by hiking in about 20 miles one way. Glad we opted for the boat!
I am sure there is more to Lake Powell than we discovered in the few days we had to explore. We will be back to see more of the lake…hmm, there may be a houseboat rental in our future.