Lake Powell, Utah (near Page, Az)
@1.8 million acres
Area: 175 to 250 sq. miles
Length: 186 miles
Shoreline: 1,900 miles
Avg. Depth: 132 feet
Elevation: 3,700 feet
Lone Rock Camping
For the first night I just wanted to get to the water’s edge and ‘acclimate.’ I had spoken with ‘Chace’ a few days earlier at Desert Kayaks – and after a rocky start he provided some great information and advice for paddling in the Airizona/Utah sun. Lake Powell is a very large lake, at 1.8 million acres the volume of water the distance from end to end seemed enormous – at the moment the lake was 70′ down (I won’t even try to figure the gallons).
Chace provided numerous options and information on various time/distance/ objective paddles (end of this post) – by chance I had my own objectives prior to arrival and felt lucky to have maintained them.
I knew that I wanted to Paddle the canyon of Labyrinth Bay, but also with the distance from Wahweap marina that it would be an ‘overnighter.’ So the first night after traveling I simply wanted to camp ‘lake-side’ and figure it out from that point.
Lone Rock Campground is the only place on Lake Powell to camp on the shore – that was my simple objective the first night – and after the travel time, just stop and put my ‘feet-up.’
Once settled in I figured what the heck; so with my kayak (‘traveller‘) off the little truck and calibrated – I went ahead and paddled the Lone Rock corner of the lake. There were several interesting canyons across the way – on my side were a small number of campers, not crowded at all.
The water clarity was a solid 10, awesome water, I have seen a couple of those tv shows ‘Cops’ on water filmed here and could visualize how the place could fill up with a whole bunch of ‘doggone people,’ but this was Monday Night and the larger part of Lone Beach was bare.
Darkness was falling as I made it back to camp and after nourishment the opportunity was there for an extra late ‘night paddle’ up and along the shoreline – near the campers and campfires. The campers fires were a nice glow against the black night. As usual there was an ‘odd-ball’ with his generator running watching tv and yet another with music blaring; made me wonder; Why not just stay at home?
Those weren’t on my favorite list but it was what it was – and I was just a paddler. Beverage in-hand and observing it all……. I coasted back to my little private section on the beach and ‘fell out’ for a really good nights rest.
Early the next morning I drove the short distance to the Wahweap Marina, parking my vehicle (as the attendant told me I could) in the parking lot near the landing. This is where I began my paddle.
Labyrinth Canyon Paddle
Labyrinth Canyon was a 6.5 hour paddle, and the sun was blaring down. The only shade along the way was along this massive wall – so I rode it’s shade. Like everything else the wall was massive and the shade it provided was a stark contrast to the weather in the sunlight – the temperature difference was absolutely distinct.
a marker marks the mouth of Labyrinth Bay
The size/distance in mileage of Glen Canyon is incredible – its simply impossible to adequately convey without seeing them in person – just how far away and massive the mesa’s are… giants, ancient giants.
I stopped and spoke with this couple because I liked their boat, a C-Dory. Its the first one that I had seen since talking to a member of the C-Dory club a year earlier while navigating the Mississippi River, evidently the C-Dory Club is a large and very active in their get-together’s, it’s a practical boat – nice folks too.
But back to what I came here for, at the end of Labyrinth Bay the Canyon begins, it twists and turns until only a kayak can go further –
Well until this point, as I approached the boat nestled in the canyon (above) the guy and his girlfriend (looking a little sunburned or embarrassed) stuck their heads up – conversation was pleasant as she adjusted her suit and they adjusted the boat too so that I could paddle through.
There’s no reason to be surprised with what you come across when paddling.
A few hundred yards beyond their boat, the water ended and it was possible to walk further through the canyon, plenty to explore and it would be easy to spend hours here. I think too that if the water was at full pool, the further distance of exploring on kayak….
and it goes on and on, beautiful place to explore – but I needed to head back.
back out until I found ‘traveller,’
and once again past the couple in the boat, later in the day as they idled past me they threw a couple of really cold beverages (Coors) my way; the beverages were delicious in the heat – excellent.
Returning to Labyrinth bay and back into the spacial abyss, I felt like ‘one little dot on the water,’ pretty insignificant yet moving along at one little stroke at a time. So far I have found that in distance paddling the mind is ‘occupied’ with the surroundings while the arms find perpetual motion; it’s not work – just a frame of mind; a place within neutrality.
It was now late in the day, returning west and into the sun at this altitude was brutal. The shade was hit-and-miss as I paddled the opposite shore – but some shade was available around the rock formations. Remaining hydrated in this heat is important, one trick is with having one of those loose long-sleeved fishing shirts and dousing it in water – it dries as you paddle and maintains a comfortable level of moisture on your skin.
The rock formations are very interesting too, formed under unimaginable stress then cooled, layered, then stressed some more. It’s similar to large drippings of cement sitting for millions of years compounded on top of each other. The rock formations had to have participated in a violent time within earth’s history.
Later I found shade and for me the perfect beach to set up camp, which I did. Took a nice swim and sat up late into the evening with my pre-mixed cranberry/tequila cocktail (a ‘waggit adder’) perfected while on the Mississippi River.
This spot at Powell remains my favorite camp setting EVER as a paddler.
Late that evening I was reminded how quickly the sand loses its heat – as I adjusted the tent the sand beneath remained as warm as it was during the day (so I moved it to cooler sand); during the night my clothes that were wet and spread over the warm rocks – dried completely.
The stars in the night sky were the most distinct that I have ever seen.
The next morning I was up real early, with five more hours of paddlin I wanted to make all the time I could before the Sun hit its peak again.
Slipping up on some fishermen I even joined them in conversation before they finally noticed me (I heard most of their small talk long before they even knew I was nearing).
Through the great spacial abyss and right back into the world of ‘doggone’ people, there were lots of house boats many of them pulling a motor boat and/or a jet-skis, some even come with helicopters…
I just stayed to the ‘quiet’ side and eased on back across the bay. Within the setting there were times that paddling seemed ‘slow’ – the perspective is one of a single humans insignificance in the grand scheme of things – one stroke at a time.
and my day(s) were done here. Paddlin Lake Powell, awesome – it’s big so pack your lunch. It was such a neat paddle, I’m tired now and ready to put my ‘feet-up,’ made it to Hurricane Utah.
Boulder City, and the Colorado below Hoover Dam tomorrow.
More Lake Powell Paddlin information
Twin Finn, Inc.- P.O. Box 4780 – 816 Coppermine Rd. – Page, Az – 928-645-3114
We have the largest fleet of Kayaks in the area (over 50 kayaks), which will accommodate the most novice Kayakers to the more advanced. The least expensive are the Ocean Kayak “Sit-on-Tops” they all have seats, and strapping to secure your gear, but you and your equipment are more exposed to the elements.
The other types of kayak we carry are called “Sea Touring” kayaks they are enclosed cockpits with rudders, they are 14’-18’ in length, and have a “Storage” compartment both in front and back of the paddler. They are fast and can be paddled from 2-4mph, they are a little more “tippy”, but even the novice could handle with a little practice.
All of our rentals come with all the equipment you will need to paddle, such as: Paddles, PFD’s, and a dry bag if needed. If you are camping within ¼ mile of the water edge IT IS THE LAW TO HAVE A PARK SERVICE APPROVED WASTE CONTAINMENT DEVICE FOR CAMPING (We do sell such items at our shop). If you are using the Sea Touring kayaks they also come with Spray Skirts, Bilge pumps, and neoprene hatch covers.
There are multiple areas to paddle, camping is allowed pretty much anywhere. We recommend, and sell the “Stan Jones” map of Lake Powell and will be able to assist you in the planning and logistics of your trip if required (please take into account that we are 70’ below “Full Pool”, and due to the huge fluctuations in our lake levels, camping spots and different areas may not be accessible). I will try to touch on the different areas, but please take into account these are just recommendations, we suggest always adding a cushion to your trip time due to unforeseen events such as weather.
There is a spot named:
“Lone Rock Camp” above Wahweap marina. It is a very long sandy beach and is the only place where you can drive to-and camp next to the waters edge. There are out-houses on the beach and a shower at the top of the beach that is available to the public. You can paddle across to Lone Rock canyon (it takes about 15 minutes), there are no deep canyons but there are nice little jetties, and the hiking is great, in fact they find a lot of fossils, geodes, and there are huge boulders balanced on sandstone pillars in areas. If you bring a GPS to our area there is a treasure back there to find. It is a fun game I play called Geo Caching, see their website at I think www.geocaching.com and look up by zip code 86040 and it will bring up numerous treasures that are hidden in the desert, and on the Lake, that can only be found by a GPS. When you find one of the treasures, most people sign a notepad and when you take one of the treasures you must leave a treasure. My kids love this game, and it is a great excuse to go hiking.
“Wahweap Window Arch” is a nice camping and hiking area, there is another Geocach located behind Castle Rock. There is another place to launch the kayaks that they call “Stateline Launch Ramp” it is between Boat Rentals and Swim Beach on the Arizona/Utah Border. It puts you closer to that area.
“Antelope Point” is a public launch ramp. It is a very good place to put in kayaks, and you could camp on Antelope Island. Antelope canyon runs parallel to Navajo route 22b, it takes about 15 minutes to paddle to the mouth of the canyon from the launch ramp. It is about an hour to back of the canyon but well worth it! You paddle through the muck at the end and then do a hike (depending on the amount of debris at the end). No one will be hiking unless they come in by kayak due to the runoff sediment that is floating on top of the water (power boats wont risk it due to sucking it up in motor, and hidden dangers to props). You can spend an easy ½ to full day in there. * It is best to start in early in the morning due to the boat traffic that gets thick about 9:00am in the morning; the main channel at the mouth of the canyon is the only way for other boat traffic to get uplake.
Below the Dam on the Colorado River is an area called “Lee’s Ferry” It is my favorite place to paddle. It is cooler down there, there are old buildings and homes with a lot of history to explore (that was the only place settlers could cross the river), there is a very intense trail that takes you up the side of the cliff that they used to bring coal by mule from “Spencer’s Coal Mine” to the river via the “Spencer’s Trail” It takes about 4 hours to go up it. As far as paddling, you either get a tow 15 miles upstream to the base of the Dam or you can paddle up (it is a very mild current and is all flat water) as far as you can and then let the river push you back. The float from the dam takes about 6-8 hours, or you can tell the water taxi service how much time you have and they will drop you off accordingly. Cost is $23 per person and $20 per kayak to take you upstream. They do not have rental kayaks available at the river you would need to get them from us and then transport them. You can only camp in designated areas, but they do have fire pits and bathrooms at the sites, the first one is about 5 miles upstream. The nice thing about this area is that it is cool, you can see the rainbow trout below your kayak, less boat traffic, but the down side is that the water is a constant 50 degrees, no swimming! Or short swimming.
For a Water Taxi (tow-back service) from Lee’s Ferry to the Dam you can contact Colorado River Discoveries (888-552-6644)
“Navajo Canyon” is a very nice canyon, there is camping at the mouth, but it is 20 miles long with no place to camp, so whatever you paddle in, you must paddle out in the same day.
“Labyrinth Canyon” has the most incredible slot canyons at the back of it that I have ever seen, but they are tough to get into. You would need at least 3 days to do this paddle. 1 day up, 1 day to explore, 1 day to get back. Some people have done it in 2 days, but we feel you need a full day to take in the experience of the canyon (blog-my experience – 6.5 hours there, 5 hours to explore – camp a little way out, then return next day).
“West Canyon” is a slot canyon at the end that makes for a very nice hike. Will require 2 days of paddling to get there.
“Mountain Sheep Canyon”, Cathedral Canyon, Driftwood Canyon, Twilight Canyon, Cascade Canyon, Rainbow Bridge” are all in the 40mile 1 way range and would be easier to reach using the of a Water Taxi service, WELL WORTH IT! But expensive.
“Dangling Rope Marina” is the only midway marina and is 41miles from the dam, and is not accessible by Auto. But is a nice area to meet the water taxi.
Things to ponder for safety: Lake Powell can be a very isolated area with some very extreme conditions. Cell phone reception is limited in the narrow canyons of Lake Powell. Handheld marine band radios will do better; you can contact the National Park Service on Channel 16 and may also be able to pull up the automated weather channel. Extreme weather announcements are broadcast on both channel 16 and weather channel.
Please remember our boats are first come first serve, so reservations are a must! We have both single person and double person boats.
Can book reservations on our secure server located at:
Thank you for your inquiry, we look forward to hearing from you.