Lake Powell Kayak trip

Hi all! I’m in the final planning stages of a trip to Lake Powell, plan is to be on the water next Saturday morning. I’m planning to go from Halls Crossing to Wahweap, plan for 9 days, expect 12 (and provisions for 12).

Starting to get a little scared to tell the truth. First, has anyone heard of someone doing that whole length in 1 trip? I can’t find any evidence of it anywhere…
Second, this is what I’m expecting, please let me know if you see something I’m overlooking (I can’t think of technical terms)

Reflection waves off canyon walls
Quick brew storms
Windy conditions
Whatever the scientific name for wind coming out of the narrow side canyons

I’m planning for 12 days as far as food goes, taking a GPS in addition to a stand alone emergency beacon, water filter with tabs for redundancy, and plan to wear an emergency pack with the beacon and food/water supplies.

I’m also thinking the odds of not seeing another boat for 3 days is pretty slim, anyone that can speak to that?

I have done a few prep trips, one being to Patagonia Lake where I camped, drew all of my water from the lake and filtered, and paddled 14 miles a day. This trip has my longest day at 13, and I think the shortest around 9. Planning to be on the water as early as possible each morning to try and mitigate afternoon winds. Also taking a bottle of sunblock for every 2 days (5 bottles).

I already know I’m crazy and it’s not advisable. But that’s half the draw. Do we ever really accomplish something if there was no chance of failure?

Also, I should note I’m a through hiking backpacker with slightly better than fair paddling skills (which is why I picked a route with no WW). I have laminated maps for each days plan with locations marked that seem like reasonable places to stop (based on looking at Google Earth), and I’m leaving a copy with my wife. The beacon has the ability to send text, so I can check in and let her know what part of the route I’m on if there’s an emergency.

Packing enough batteries for your devices? Can you access marine weather reports?

Wishing you the best for a safe and wonderful adventure!

The mile markers on the lake make navigation pretty simple. Plan on some days when you may not be able to travel much due to the wind. Get up early and travel in the morning. Some days you need to be off the lake by noon or 1300. I recommend you do not travel on a day trip without your equipment. If the wind comes up you may need to head for shore and ride out a storm.

The scariest thing about Lake Powell is that it is windy country to begin with. The canyon wall create a venturi effect, which increases the wind velocity in narrow canyons, and sometimes in the main canyon especially up north where it is narrower.

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Sounds exciting. I think getting run over by a power boat on the weekend might also be a real threat. Last time I visited up there, it was bumper to bumper power boats from Powell to Kanab.

Keep us posted.

Someone paddled the entire PERIMETER of LP, including all coves and arms, way back in the beginning of the millenium. Did a job on his wrists, IIRC. The shoreline when full is supposedly more than 2000 miles.

However, the res was full only once, I think. It’s been chronically low for years. Bathtub ring, wrecked boats stuck in odd, up-high positions.

A guy I know paddled the length you mention, though his start and end were in Wahweap. He didn’t think the paddling was so nice down there, due to crazy powerboat/jetski crowd which LP is infamous for. You DID know about that already, right?

My husband and I have done two paddle-camping trips on LP, starting and ending at Hall’s. We went somewhere beyond Dangling Rope Marina but not as far as Wahweap. Took 9 days round trip. We had planned and packed for going all the way down but frankly both of us felt we’d seen enough of the scenery by then and didn’t want to sully it with motorhead mayhem memories. We returned and instead did a beautiful day paddle up Moki Arm from carcamp, plus a hike on the other day. We averaged 15-16 mpd during the kayak camping part of our vacation.

Oh…we had allowed ourselves 12 days for the entire thing and had to sit out the planned start due to blasting wind levels. Delayed us by one day, and we had other windy days out there. One of our 9 days out was a layover day (no paddling)—so windy it filled the tent with sand even though we set up on bare rock canyon rim. We’d be in it with the gusts shoving the walls into our bodies. Crazy wind is a given on LP in either spring or fall.

You should call the NPS ranger office to get up-to-date info. The AIS problem will require that you do some things that might not be mandated in your home region.

You WILL see other boats or jetskis every day, LOL. Jetskis can go in very narrow arms. Some are off-limits to them, but not enough to allow escaping them for a 3-day stretch, LOLLOLLOL.

Bottom line: The proposed trip is not crazy and has probably been done by many paddlers. What’s crazy is motorized traffic and typical windiness.

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Paddle early to avoid wind (nilch’i in Navajo) and boat traffic

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Ha ha, good general advice, but some days at LP it blows all night and all the next day.

Thanks everyone for the advice and well wishes…I had considered powered crafts, but I wrongly assumed I probably wouldn’t see too many. Sounds like probably more of an occurance than I anticipated. And the wind is one of the main things that has me anxious. The PLAN is to be on the water by 7:30 at the latest so that even on the long days at only 2 MPH, I should be able to be off the water by 2:00. But, as they say, “man plans and God laughs”…

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Make a Plan B and a Plan C, in case conditions make doing Plan A dangerous or undesirable.

Sure would be great if LP banned motorized craft except for trolling motors,

Absolutely. Plan A is to land where I’ve planned to land, paddle the routes I’ve laid out, and have an amazing trip while mitigating the problems I wasn’t anticipating but have the skill set to handle. Plan B is to run into a situation I cannot mitigate and flag down some powerboater and pay em $50 for a tow to Antelope. Plan C is to hit the emergency button on the GPS beacon and take a bill from NPS for a rescue :expressionless:.

Are you serious that those constitute Plans B and C? More like D and F.


Plan A is what you are stuck with.
Power boats rule L Powell. It is the home of a giant fleet of house boats and every other kind of power boat.
If conditions are bad for you, they will be bad for power boats also. They will be hunkered down in coves hiding, not out cruising around trying to rescue you. Plan B is not as likely as you might think.

Plan C of calling the NPS is as good as not having a plan. I have never heard of a NPS rescue on L Powell. Never plan on one to save your butt. Your first responsibility on a solo trip is to be safe and not need help from anyone else. Do not imperil other people with your bad judgment.


That’s fair, and I respect that. If you have a suggestion about how to pack enough gear in a kayak to walk out of 50 miles of desert, I’m open to listening. But I’m about as prepared as can be for anything short of a major act of God :man_shrugging:. I’ll have a pack on my back with a dry bag containing an emergency bivy, 3 days of food, 2 different water filtering solutions and a dry set of clothes. So even if the act of God hits and I have to swim for it, I’ll be able to survive an extra week at least. If the act of God lasts that long, it was my time and what a way to go. If not, the lake will get calm enough in that week for a ranger to happen by me, I’m sure. I get that there is a level of danger. But I would submit that one can only prepare so much, there will ALWAYS be an unknown. And I can guarantee no danger as long as I sit in my house and look at pictures of the lake on Google. But that’s not really living, is it?

Sorry to sound like an ass, but I was more asking for someone who has experience on the lake to say “hey, did you think about this?”, not necessarily people to jab at me like I haven’t been preparing for this for a year. I agree that I wasn’t super clear, so let me assure everyone, I expect to swim if the worst happens. I’m prepared to swim (I’m at least as good a swimmer as a paddler, maybe better). And I understand that the swim could be miles, not feet. With my PFD, I’m fairly confident I can get to shore somewhere with multiple days worth of provisions and an emergency GPS beacon. Absolute worst case, a friend drives up and rents a boat to come find me :man_shrugging:.

I guess if the answer is “Don’t do it, but I’m not offering a reason why, you’re just an idiot”, I’m not going to allow that to dictate my life. I can’t think of a way to be more prepared, and I’ve gotten 2 "you’re just an idiot"s now without reasoning or helpful suggestions attached. Maybe I am an idiot, but if you’re not gonna be helpful, feel free to just tell your friends how stupid I am instead of trying to clap at me without any real deal ideas :man_shrugging:

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Not sure if you’re familiar with the WaterTribe (; it holds unsupported long distance endurance events in Florida and the Boundary Waters. I have great admiration and respect for those adventurers, including those who fail for whatever reason. At least they tried. The WT has a good checklist of required equipment for its events which might be useful to you.

Am guessing that the mitigation mentioned in your Plan B is re-entering your boat in the case of a capsize or in a worse-case scenario, swimming it to shore. If you haven’t already practiced self-rescue in your fully loaded boat, would be a good thing to try before setting out.

Again, my best wishes. Doing is better than sitting at home dreaming.

FWIW, I’d love to hear suggested Plans A, B, C and D from the experts here. They might have some good ideas.

I gave you a detailed reply of both my own and other people’s experiences with longish kayak camping trips on LP. You obviously didn’t read it with any intent to comprehend. Besides the two trips mentioned, I’ve also paddled there other times, and I live only a few hours away.

Nobody called you an idiot or said that such a trip was crazy. It HAS been done by other people.

If you interpret any of the responses as calling you an idiot, you clearly
posted here looking ONLY for Attaboys—not actual advice.

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No one is inferring that you are an idiot. Don’t be so sensitive. You asked for opinions, expect to hear some. You are not crazy either. I was just pointing out that the person responsible for you is you. You cannot rely on others to come and find you. That is always a mistake.

I would also suggest you forget about hiking out across the desert. There is no water out there. Some of the canyons can be like a maze. If the weather is bad you must hunker down and ride it out. Do not panic and do something you might regret.

I have done only one trip to L Powell, but I had a contract on the Navajo Res for 6 years. Northern AZ and so Utah is unforgiving country.


PikaBike, I had considered everything you mentioned except seeing motor powered crafts every day. I have 12 days of food and 30 days of clean water for a 9 day trip. Paddling into a 20 mph headwind sounds miserable, but I did it for 2 days on my planning and prepping trip at Patagonia, so if the wind absolutely must be terrible for 3 straight days, I’m comfortable with my ability to “embrace the suck”.

Ppine, I understand what you’re saying. But at some point it’s either getting a “participation medal” for doing something with no risk of failure, or getting out and living on the edge. I can’t think of a way to be MORE responsible for me than I already am, and the trip does carry a risk of needing emergency help. The only way I can see being more responsible for myself is to not go. But I’m not going to “live life to the fullest” by paddling the half mile man-made lake in my town. I want to rise to a real challenge and push my own boundaries.

I guess the tone of “I can’t believe those are plans B and C” touched me off wrong. And I probably didn’t explain myself well enough. Those ARE plans B and C, but in a very board strokes sense after working through a decision tree based on the knowns and unknowns of the situation as it unfolds. Obviously, if I capsize and can get the boat back upright, that would constitute “plan B” (to be honest, with the size of my cockpit, I’m not sure I could STAY IN the boat if it went over). Not that I need to justify myself, but I’ve had a 15 year career of having to work through emergencies as they happen and process decisions in real time. I’m pretty well practiced at not panicking when things don’t go as I expect them to. And I understand that the enormity of the water on LP is going to have some mental effect that I haven’t faced.

I appreciate people being candid, and apologize for my ass response. To be completely honest, it isn’t you guys, it’s other demons I have that you guys triggered off, which should not have been directed back at you. That’s on me.

May the wind be in my favor, and keep an eye out for “idiot dies trying to paddle Lake Powell” in the news :grin::man_shrugging:.

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It might help for you guys to see what I’m working with too. I’ve tried rolling it in calm water, and it’s incredibly difficult. I get that waves and reflection waves are going to make it way easier, but am I wrong in thinking getting out of that cockpit is gonna be pretty easy as long as I don’t panic? Seated in it, only about 6 inches of my ankles and feet are actually IN the yak. I can’t even reach the front cupholder :rofl: