It was a screen saver on Jon’s desktop at work – one of those generic nature stock photos that comes already stored in the computer. That’s how he saw it. Lake Powell. A bright blue reservoir on the Colorado River, surrounded by canyons the shades of amber, mauve, gold and crimson.
After I told Jon months before his 30th birthday that he needed to pick an epic location to travel to, it was that Lake Powell photo that kept shouting at him with its “More info” button on the corner of the screen.
Fast forward some months, and we were on a plane heading toward this beautiful lake that straddles the border between Utah and Arizona, which means you’re in different time zones depending where on the lake you are. (Arizona doesn’t acknowledge daylight savings time.) But really, who cares what time it is when you’re spending a week there!
Here are a few tidbits, highlights and tips we learned from our trip:
GETTING THERE: CULTURE & HORSESHOE BEND
We landed in Phoenix, Arizona, and road-tripped to our destination from there, which is what I recommend.
Although there are two airports closer to the Wahweap Marina in Page, Arizona (where you access the lake), they both are small airports that you’ll need to get to via a Pheonix flight, anyway. So just make the drive – it’s crazy scenic with a view of sites like Horseshoe Bend, and it’ll also save you from an extra layover at an airport. I’ll take that any day.
Also important to note is that Page, AZ has no Uber and just two taxi drivers in the entire town. Yeah, two. So plan accordingly, and if you’re going to get a rental vehicle, reserve it ahead of time. We almost were shit out of luck when we found ourselves with no taxi driver and no rental car to get to our departure airport. But we ended up having some extra good karma left over in our karma piggy bank, and got by when a rental car suddenly became available for us.
Along the side of the road, overlooking miles of desert and canyons, we found a group of Navajo women who sold beaded jewelry. Some of them barely spoke English, and I was reminded that people everywhere live such different lives. I bought a copper bracelet from one of the women, whose daughter had to translate the transaction. And after I paid, before I hurried on to see Horseshoe Bend, the lady had her daughter tell me how beautiful my raw opal ring is.
Horseshoe Bend was on the way to Wahweap Marina in Page (told ya it’d be crazy scenic) and ho-ly shit! The view of this bend in the Colorado River has become an iconic image of the Grand Canyon area, since it is only 5 miles from the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. It’s also only a 1.5 mile hike from the road and FREE, which makes it easily accessible to most.
THE HOUSE BOAT
Jon took the “epic” part of this trip to heart. He rented a luxury house boat, equipped with a hot tub, slide and a small chase motor boat. We were only four, but the boat could accomodate 10 comfortably.
The cost of the boat during the time of year we went – beginning of May – was about $6,000. That cost goes up significantly if you’re renting a house boat during the summer months, when the water is warmer and season gets busier with tourists. We’re not all about that tourist life though, and we like to save money when possible, so May was perfect. The temperature was warm enough, and the water was not as cold as Lake Tahoe, which we’re used to jumping into every summer, so we were just fine. I even went skinny dipping on my birthday. (Jon and I have birthdays a week apart. Also, good thing girls don’t have to worry about shrinkage.)
What I loved most about having a house boat with a smaller motor boat was that we were able to park the big vessel on the perfect little beach where we had complete privacy, and then take the smaller boat out on day trips to go explore.
TIPS FOR AN EPIC & SMOOTH EXPERIENCE
- Make a grocery list for your time on the boat, and at the store closest to the marina (Walmart) buy more than you think you’ll need. You’ll be out in the middle of nowhere, and you don’t want to run out of food or water, or even worse, adult beverages, before your trip comes to an end. Better to have leftovers than not enough! Make sure to add plenty of sunscreen, fire wood and s’mores stuff!
- Be prepared to disconnect with your devices and connect with yourself and Mother Earth. Answer all emails if you need to prior to the trip, and change your voice message greeting to let people know you’re off the grid on vacation, because there is no service out there for miles. You might find little pockets on the river where you’ll get a bar or two, but seriously – disconnect. You deserve it.
- Pack for really warm days, and pretty cool nights. So, bathing suits, jackets and of course, hiking gear. I love my new Columbia hiking boots, which were perfect for this trip because they were lightweight, waterproof and breathable.Also, if you could bring fishing poles/rods, DO! There’s lots of fishing to out here, and if you like catfish, they’re everywhere.
- Aside from the fire wood you’ll buy at the store, be on the lookout for firewood other campers have left behind for others to take advantage of. You’ll need all the firewood if you’re camping, er, glamping, at night. (And why wouldn’t you be camping at night with this view?)
- EXPLORE. Seriously, there are so many little valleys and streams and canyons to see. If you’re lucky, you’ll see animals and blooms and other signs of life. And if you’re luckier, you’ll get yourself to see one of the highlights of our trip: Rainbow Bridge National Monument. This sight – one of the largest known natural bridges in the world – is sacred to neighboring Native American tribes, and really, to all who feel its energy and beauty. Its history is fascinating, and the view alone is breathtaking. As you hike your way there, be on the lookout for critters in the area. We saw a pretty cool snake!
Lake Powell is breathtaking. Its geography is awe-inspiring. And it’s right here, in the U.S., so get yourself there someday, k?