Lake Powell

-- Last Updated: Jan-14-08 8:02 PM EST --

I am planning a trip to Powell this spring for my family. I would like some info as far as what you did for your trip. We can't afford a house boat so we are going to either;
A) set up a base camp and explore from that area. OR
B) use an 14' aluminium boat to travel away from a marina and set up a remote base camp.
I need info on where might be a good place to set up a camp using our truck or if there are any outfitters who provide a shuttle service to and from areas on the lake.
Thanks for any and all info.......John

Can I come?

Try Plan A the first time
Lake Powell alone (never mind the land surrounding it) is so big that it’s a good idea to set up a car-camp basecamp (or 2) the first visit and take day trips from there. Road access is very limited.

We did that on our first paddling visit there. Call it a reconnaissance, though it covered a small area. Later, we did two kayak-camping trips.

Hite Marina has been closed since the drought years. We start and end at the Bullfrog/Hall’s Crossing/Stanton area because it’s a shorter drive for us than Page or Antelope. No need for a shuttle.

Especially with a family, you’ll have more flexibility and less risk by doing Plan A. There are long stretches of water where you have NO place to get out. I’m not talking just “difficult” landing spots–I mean pure vertical cliffs towering hundreds of feet above. Also, on all three visits we had strong winds.

There will be lots of motorboats, including houseboats, in the warm seasons. May not be a great place for children to paddle.

Depends on where
you are planning to put in. The water is low and Antelope Island is not an island anymore unless the water comes up. There is a long channel from Waweap Bay to the main lake and it can be dangerous if there is a lot of boat traffic. When the 20+’ cruiser drivers tell you it is a washing machine, listen. Early morning if you want to get through. There is a fed campground at Lone Rock just across the Utah border. Open camping and popular with ATV’s. Very reasonable but there is a fee for power boats on Powell. I have not been to Bullfrog or Halls Crossing but those are your other possibilities for launching. Access is very limited. There is a kayak guide at Page AZ and I believe he launches from Indian land, possibly at the Antelope Resort.

Thanks for the feed back, Has anyone camped up at Farley or any of the upper drive in campgrounds on the lake?

We launched from Bullfrog,

– Last Updated: Jan-15-08 6:48 PM EST –

my brother in law Scott and I, in a 12 inflatable with an old 25hp outboard motor towing a 15 foot coleman canoe that had most of our gear in it. We carried stuff for 4 days including dive gear and climbing gear. Scotts way into both diving and climbing while I wont touch the stuff. But I enjoyed getting out and hangin on the lake with my good friend. Hiked at every whim and spent a lot of time walking side canyons to nowhere but hiked out to the high ground at several places. We walked up at Lake Canyon, Annies Canyon, and walked to the end of Iceberg canyon in an afternoon the reached blistering temps never making it to the top. In a few places we found where water came off the rock faces the air seemed 30 degrees cooler and lush vegetation filled in every square inch of prime real estate. Smalled critters did their daily stuff and birds were everywhere. A few hundred feet away the desert seems much harsher and lifeless but still amazing beautiful in other ways. I wish I had taken more photos of the hikes in the canyons but I did not.
We camped from a site on the shoreline across from Lake Canyon and to the north just where main channel opens up as it swings north. On the opposite side of the lake was this straight walled cliff falling at least 400 ft, maybe more, which we hiked up from Lake Canyon. It was a very cool place to look up at night. Pretty far from most manmade light.
I found the highlights of the trip were hiking around the higher ground on the rocks at Annies Canyon where we walked past several large areas of fossilized sea shells. I remember thinking how bizzare it was to be standing on the bottom of an ocean now at like a mile high. I also remember how extremely quiet the higher ground felt once the boat traffic noise was filtered out. The views of the surrounding lands were mind bending.
It must have been a spectacular place before becoming an amazing lake.

Some photos from the higher ground with abundant photo ops.
Annies Canyon :
Iceberg Canyon :
Lake Canyon :
When the winds blows in the afternoon the waves get a chance to build back in forth in the main channel combining with the houseboat wakes to make for some definite white knuckle moments for anyone in a small boat. Towing a two hundred pound canoe slowed us down a bit but worked out very well. With a few hours a day in the boat we still had plenty of time for hiking and climbing. We made good time and covered decent mileage early in the mornings but on a couple different days we found ourselves in the channel in the afternoon mayhem. That was pretty exciting at times. We never got sunk but that was because everything was tied in in such a way as to be able to tip the canoe upside down and recover it without losing anything. Mostly the water shed fast enough to maintain control easily. It was a submarine on a couple different occasions but never rolled. Towing the canoe worked out well because it gave me a chance to paddle some dawn patrols. The canoe was a major pos but I didn't mind at all. It didn't matter what I was in. Even though Powell is crowded with powerboats I was still able to find quiet empty canyons far from the main channel. I would not want to have been out in the afternoon whitewater of a busy day on Powell in that canoe but that could have been easily avoided by traveling more in the early hours.
Someday I wouldn't mind returning and doing more sightseeing.

"The Houseboat from Hell"
That was the banner on one we encountered. I could hear headbanger rock playing on the speakers from a long way off and cringed. But they were moving slowly and steadily, as houseboats tend to do. No problems with the wakes, mainly because it was the only one near us.

As they passed us going the other way, someone got on a bullhorn and asked, “Wanna race?”

It was a classic Lake Powell Americana moment. Ya gotta smile sometimes.

A good link
It has been about 30 years since I paddled there.

I pitched a tent at Bullfrog and later paddled to narrow slot canyons that house boats couldn’t enter. Since the water is much lower now, I wouldn’t know the good spots anymore.

Here is a good detailed trip report I saw on the web:

ANybody else have any info for me?
Sorry but I am going to give this thread another bump. I still need the info>>

something stable
There are las vegas superich types who drive 80 mph in a big yacht producing huge wakes and might be talking on cell phone making real estate deal while sipping a martini. Staying close to shore is smart. In a canoe, please remember to get down on your knees to lower center of gravity in breaking wake. A friends daughter was really hurt on powell when her waveboard was nearly run over by huge fast yacht. Wake threw her way up in air and really hurt the girl who was being towed by small boat.

Not TOO close to shore
If it’s a cliffy shore, which are common at Lake Powell, you want to get away from it when a large-displacement boat is approaching.

That about sums up the issue I had
while at Lake Powell. Big wakes/waves from one direction, crazy water rebounding from the cliff walls on the other side. Low enough water level that you could not avoid either. 8 days of gear left me lower in the water than desired.

Outfitters or other commercial types not allowed by NPS to run shuttles into the park.

Browse to the Lake Powell report if interested in other photos or details of my trip:

Aren’t stereotypes great

– Last Updated: Jan-24-08 1:29 PM EST –

for feeding our simple hate-filled minds. dmaccwhatever

I camped in a free/cheap campground
outside of Bullfrog. Forgot the name but it’s just pass the entrance on the left – can’t miss it. Pit toilets and not much else. When I was there in early spring, April and May, there weren’t many campers if you stayed back from the lake. The lake area was loaded with campers and noisy generators. From the looks of the area it gets heavy use since the whole area was pretty much trampled. It must be a zoo when crowded. I would drive down closer to the lake to launch my canoe.

In early April the boat traffic wasn’t bad so I made a stop again after paddling the Green and doing some biking in Moab. In May the boat traffic picked up considerably, especially on the weekends. From looking at the overflow parking at the marina, the boat traffic must be outrageous in the peak season.

You don’t mention what type of boat you have to transport your gear and family, but a 14 ft anything except a powerboat wouldn’t be wise to paddle too far loaded down like it sounds you intend to do from your trip plans. Lake Powell is a BIG lake and besides having the normal wind and wave problem of any big lake, it has lots of powerboats. You should factor in at least a wind day for any trip you make. I had my 18 ft canoe on the lake and wasn’t comfortable in the canyons. You get in a canyon loaded down with gear and family members and have some powerboat zoom by, it’ll get your attention. You’ll get hit by the initial wave but shortly after the reflections start coming and coming. Remember what goes up the canyon goes down the canyon, so shortly later the boat will zoom pass in the opposite direction. Add a couple more powerboats doing the same thing within a few minutes and I guarantee you’ll want to get off the water. However, you can’t because of the sheer cliffs and you can’t paddle out of the area because of the motorboat traffic. Also, it’s spring so the water is cold so it won’t be a pleasant swim.

It’s a very scenic place but not the destination I would go for tripping in a small boat with my family. I also didn’t like all the houseboat and RV generators at night. You’d be surprised how loud they get echoing in a canyon. It depends what you like, but I definitely would not take my family on any canoe camping in my 14 ft canoe on any big lake, and especially Lake Powell. You can find places to paddle that are safe but stay close to shore and forget about crossing the lake.

That’s Stanton
We car-camped there once. We thought it would be quiet at that time (October). Unfortunately, U. of CO-Boulder gave their students an extra week of vacation that same week to give the poor kiddies a break from actually having to study (isn’t that why they pay to attend in the first place?).

Though these students weren’t hard partiers, they weren’t exactly quiet, either. We were glad when they left.

Yes, it is kind of beaten down, and you have to bring your own drinking water.

I’m bumping this thread
instead of starting a new one because I’d like to know if John (dirtnadvil) ever got the information he wanted for his Lake Powell trip.

If so, John, are you still going? Or, did you go? I’d like to hear how it went for you even if you don’t care to file a trip report.

We’re planning a trip for December of this year (or maybe January) so I’m keenly interested. I’d like to launch from where Hite marina used to be but I hear the road to the water is 4-wheel-drive only.