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Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

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Atascadero...
Destination Expert
for Lake Powell
posts: 932
Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

I have been to Lake Powell 18 times since 1986, and have explored most every nook that can be reached in a boat or on foot. I love the area. But sometimes it is very difficult for those who would like to go to decide between the many options before them--especially when they only have a week.

So many choices. But it all starts with deciding what your goals are. Do you want to focus on hiking? Scenery? Fishing? Waterskiing? Camping? Solitude? Narrow canyons? Open bays? Archaeological ruins?

How big is your group? Do they need a luxury houseboat? Or lakeside camping? Maybe something in between... How long will you have? A seven-day trip provides a lot more flexibility than a 3-day excursion. Do you have kids? This presents an entirely different set of issues, ranging from safety, to fun adventures geared to their abilities, to learning experiences they will enjoy.

I can help you translate your interests into a great Lake Powell adventure. With my knowledge of the canyons, hiking, how to operate a houseboat, the best camping spots, and practical tips (about food, safety, preparation, and fun things you might want but won't know it till it's too late), I'd be happy to help.

If you're interested in learning more, or just need some advice, please feel free to contact me directly at:

John Rickenbach

jfrickenbach@aol.com

805/462-8823

Have a great adventure!

401 replies to this topic
Atascadero...
Destination Expert
for Lake Powell
posts: 932
311. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

SSGViper--

Your memory still serves you well. It may have been 30 years since you've been there, but for the most part things haven't changed too much at the lake, with the notable difference being the lake level. In the early 80s, it was full (3700 feet above sea level), but today it's about 109 feet lower than that (3591). The major practical difference that means for you is more exposed land, and the Caste Rock Cut to get farther up the lake is closed. Not sure if you were planing to go a long distance on your jet skis, but that will make things tougher, particularly with heavy boat traffic.

Your camping options are as you suggest, but note that Wahweap's campground is not on the beach, but high on a bluff. It's a good campground though, and a 2 minute drive to the launch site with your trailer. It's probably your easiest option, but not right on the lake--not as "open" of an experience...feels like a formal campground, which it is. Lone Rock Beach is, however, right on the shore, and with lower water, the beach itself is bigger than you might recall. Camping is more a matter of finding a nice stretch of a huge beach--more primitive than at Wahweap but very nice. No shade, though, and if it gets windy in the afternoon, watch for blowing sand.

Is there still water in Lone Rock Bay? Yes, it's just that the width of the bay is less. Check out Google Earth, and you'll see what it looked like on May 30 of this year, when the lake was 8 feet higher than today. That's basically how it will look now. That means the beach is a little less than a half mile from Lone Rock, and the water only extends about a mile west from Lone Rock upstream in that direction before ending.

Will you have to launch from Wahweap Marina? Practically speaking, most likely, since the sand can be deep at Lone Rock Beach for a trailer, and there's no boat launch there per se. But you can certainly run your jet skis right up to the beach where your tent is, if that's where you camp. Note that right now the lake is dropping about 2 inches per day, so you won't have to worry about your jet skis floating away in the middle of the night if you pull them up on shore.

Are there other easily accessible beaches near Wahweap? ...nope, that's it.

For fun, you might want to run your jet skis up nearby Lone Rock Canyon (just about a mile northwest of the rock), which is pretty and narrow, and has some good hiking potential.

Edited: 11:51 am, August 20, 2013
Denver, Colorado
posts: 3
312. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

John, thanks so much for all the info you have provided. Your level of knowledge on this lake is truly amazing and greatly appreciated!

I think we will base out of the Wahweap marina campground and launch there and also haul them to the Antelope point marina for when we do the longer jet ski trips. The skis are great in the rough so no worries there. Each jet ski has a range of approximately 90 miles on one tank which should get us to some nice canyons. Back in the day we would camp in the bay by Cookie Jar Butte so we plan on exploring that area along with Navajo and Antelope Canyons. We will be sure to check out the canyon you mentioned by Lone Rock. Let me know of some others scenic canyons that you think would be worth exploring on the jet skis. We have both been to Rainbow Bridge so no need to go there. Since the jet skis require premium fuel and Dangling Rope does not sell premium, we probably won't be able to venture past Dangling Rope due to fuel constraints.

One other question, have you heard anything about the campground in Page? I'm thinking Wahweap is probably better and closer to the action on the lake.

We always went to Powell in June so this will be the first time in Sept. I have heard that Sept may be the best month to be on Powell.

Thanks again!

John

Edited: 10:59 pm, August 20, 2013
Atascadero...
Destination Expert
for Lake Powell
posts: 932
313. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

September is the best time at the lake, in my opinion, so you're catching it just right. As for the campground in Page, I couldn't say much about, but I think the Wahweap campground is your best bet--nice enough, and close to the water.

SInce your fuel range limits you to below Dangling Rope, I suggest you look into Labyrinth Canyon, Face Canyon, and West Canyon. West is particularly long, so watch your fuel as you go. Starting from Antelope Point will help in that regard; its about 20 miles to West Canyon from Antelope, the farthest of the three canyons mentioned above. You should have enough fuel to explore all of them, unless you went a long way in both Antelope and Navajo Canyons, which will suck your gas quickly. In my opinion, neither Navajo or Antelope are as good on a jet ski as West, Face or Labyrinth...all of which are narrower and have a lot less boat traffic.

Your other option is to blaze past all those canyons (but I wouldn't because they're worth seeing), and get to some of the really narrow ones just north of Dangling Rope--Mountain Sheep, Wetherill, Driftwood, Cathedral, Twilight. The thing is, none of them are necessarily better than the West, Face and Wetherill, just different. Keep in mind from Antelope Point to Dangling Rope is only about 34 miles, so you'd have the potential fuel range to get there and back, but not much more... I'd stick with West, Face and Labyrinth...

Edited: 2:48 am, August 21, 2013
Atascadero...
Destination Expert
for Lake Powell
posts: 932
314. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

...in the last paragraph above, fourth line from the bottom, I meant "West, Face, and LABYRINTH"...

Denver, Colorado
posts: 3
315. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

Thank you very much for all the great info. We will check out all those places you mentioned. It sounds like Antelope Point launch ramps may be running out of ramp due to dropping water levels:

www.ksl.com/…

Atascadero...
Destination Expert
for Lake Powell
posts: 932
316. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

Sounds great. By the way, just so everyone is not confused, the launch ramp at Antelope Point referred to in the news link above is the ramp for launching your own boat, and has nothing to do with the Antelope Point rental and marina operations. Right now if the lake dropped another 5 feet, the ramp would not be usable (the news item says three feet--that's inaccurate--it becomes unusable when the lake drops to 3586...it's now a shade below 3591...and dropping at about 2.5 inches a day...thus, by that math the private ramp will be unusable by late September). This, however, does not affect boat rentals at Antelope Point--which will continue as normal, even if the lake continues to drop, since their boats are parked at docks in the lake itself...

Edited: 12:25 pm, August 22, 2013
Wrexham, North Wales
posts: 16
reviews: 24
317. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

Hello John,

We're a family of four with 2 teenage children (19 & 15). Our mid September itinerary is

Day 1, Moab to Page. Early start with possible stop off at Monument Valley.

Day 2, Page

Day 3, Page to Las Vegas.

We would like to do one of the Antelope Canyon walking tours and also a day on the lake. Where is the best place to rent a boat from as regards getting to Rainbow Bridge ? I like your idea of going to Rainbow first (hopefully missing any crowds) and then spending the rest of the time more leisurely, we'll probably rent a donut as well. I was thinking that I could arrange the boat on day 1 ready for a quick getaway on day 2. The idea is to see MV on the way to Moab so it probably won't be much more than an hour's stop on the way to Page. We're planning on staying in Vegas for 3 nights so a late afternoon arrival will be fine.

Thanks.

Atascadero...
Destination Expert
for Lake Powell
posts: 932
318. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

You can rent a boat from either Wahweap or Antelope Point marinas near Page, but Antelope Point is 8 miles closer to Rainbow Bridge, and you can rent the boat by the hour. I would arrange this more than a day in advance just to be safe, but in mid-Sept, the lake crowds will have thinned quite a bit. Count on using most of your day on the lake.

I would use the first part of the day you plan to drive to Vegas to do an Antelope Canyon tour, rather than trying to shoehorn it in on the day you rent the boat to go to Rainbow--that's too much to do in a day. The drive from Page to Vegas is only about 4.5 hours, so leaving Page by 2 or 3 after Antelope to go to LV would be fine--no need to get an early start to be in LV at mid day--that's a waste of a day if you ask me.

Three nights in Vegas? I know it's an exciting place, but boy, I'd make that two and use the other night either in Moab or Page... (Of course, you're on a forum where people much prefer southern Utah to Vegas...)

Oxford, Ohio
posts: 2
reviews: 1
319. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

Hi there John,

I'm a college kid looking into Lake Powell for spring break next year. I have little to no experience boating, but I was thinking about renting a houseboat along with about 7 or 8 friends and then tying a few kayaks to the back as well. I know that it would be cold that time of year (right around the end of March) but would it be too cold for any water fun? Also, do you think that we'd be okay taking just the houseboat and then kayaking for little excursions or is a speedboat necessary? Obviously I don't have much of a clue what would be best so any advice would be awesome.

Thanks for your help.

Atascadero...
Destination Expert
for Lake Powell
posts: 932
320. Re: Lake Powell Adventure - Practical Guide and tips

In late March, the lake won't be crowded. Air temps could be anywhere from cold to comfortable, but the water will be cold--in the 50s. Think of kayaking at that time as the same as you would in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, or at Lake Tahoe in May. Dress warmly--waterproof jackets, neoprene socks and gloves, wear a warm hat. It's not like it is in the summer.

Do you need a speedboat? Not if plan your houseboat spots strategically, near several good kayak canyons. You could base in Oak Bay, and hit Secret and Little Oak Canyons. You could make a base camp across from and south of Forbidding Canyon (the one that goes to Rainbow Bridge) and do excursions to Driftwood, Cascade and Cathedral. You could base yourself in Rock Creek and explore its many coves. Or you could base yourself at the just south of the mouth of the San Juan (main channel, west side, about mile 55) and explore Music Temple, hidden Passage and Reflection canyons. Note that Reflection is the canyon featured in an iconic photo from the air that has the canyon nearly doubling back on itself...

Whatever you do, try to use the houseboat as a base that is near several good spots for a kayak. And whatever you do, I think it means you need to get north of Dangling Rope to make it worth your while.

Sounds fun!

Edited: 12:01 am, September 01, 2013
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