There is NO summer adventure location better than Lake Powell, Utah. There is a lot of planning and preparation needed to make this a successful trip. Luckily for you, I have you covered for everything you need to know!
Lake Powell, Utah is not your traditional lake and that is because it’s actually a dammed reservoir located deep in the Utah desert. The main channel and bays resemble a traditional wide lake, but turn out and you'll be exploring down the vein-like water systems which will feed you directly into narrow and tall slot canyons.
The majority of the lake is in Utah but one of the main marinas, Antelope Marina, is located right in neighboring Page, Arizona. You can explore the lake from many of the hotels in Page but the best parts of the lake are further and deeper into the channel/canyons. Renting a houseboat is the best way to truly enjoy the ultimate adventure. There are a few rental companies or there are time shared own houseboats that you can research and book as well.
NOTE: This is not an easy trip and a lot of planning and knowledge is needed before and during the trip. There is limited cell service and taking out a boat, and more importantly, a house boat, isn't an easy task. The canyons will look very similar and you can easily find yourself getting lost. The water level drops which can create shallow depths in the slot canyons or even cause you to run your propeller into an unmarked obstacle. Docking a boat not on a marina is tough but it is even tougher when you need to do it with a large houseboat that isn't easy to maneuver. I would caution anyone from going on this trip without fully understanding all of the consequences or dangers. However, if you plan and read what I wrote, this will absolutely be one of the best adventure trips you will ever take.
Best time to go to Lake Powell
Naturally, the best time to come and enjoy the lake is in the summer. End of summer, August/September is best because the water will be the warmest and the summer monsoons will be less frequent. Summer is HOT. May and June will have warm temps but the water will still be colder from the winter water run off. Late summer and September is best as crowds will lessen as school begins.
If you aren’t planning to do a lot of water activities, the spring or fall seasons are best for sightseeing with cooler temperatures which are perfect for long hikes. Many houseboats also come equipped with Hot Tubs! But best of all, the prices will be more favorable when not in peak summer season.
Planning your Trip
The lake is pretty much in the middle of no where. The city of Page, Arizona is large with many hotels and food options but there isn't much once you leave. You will most likely be driving a long ways to get here but it is absolutely worth it. If you are coming from California/Nevada there are many great places to incorporate on your road trip such as The Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Horse Shoe bend to name a few. Be sure to plan and enjoy some of the great South West on the front or back end of your trip!
The closest airport would most likely be Las Vegas which is still over 5 hours!
Best things to Do in Lake Powell
Houseboat - reserve a house boat early and plan an amazing trip with a group of friends
Wake boat - nothing better to do on a lake then wakeboarding, wake surfing, water skiing, tubing, or just taking a boat ride to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Jet Skis - don’t forget to rent or bring jet skis to cruise around the lake and more importantly to be able to go deeper into the canyons when the boat won’t fit. Some of the best views and canyon experiences can not be accessed by larger power boats.
Paddle Boards, Kayaks, Rafts - These are all great toys to play on in the water. Best conditions are in the canyons and in the morning when the conditions are the glassiest.
Hiking - there are tons of rocks to climb and adventures to be had. Many canyons will eventually get too narrow for even a jet ski. Hop off your kayak, boat, or jet ski and continue on to the land and keep exploring!
Best Places to See in Lake Powell
There are way to many places to see and enjoy but here is a map of a few of my favorites broken up into two parts
West of Navajo Mountain: The first few canyons are areas that are accessible by a long day trip power boat rental as well as good for experiencing a wide range of what Lake Powell has to offer from large bays to narrow canyons.
Labyrinth Slot Canyon
Padre Bay (Be sure to check out Holel in the Roof)
West Canyon (Be sure to check out the West Canyon Slot Canyon Hike)
Rock Creek Bay (Be sure to check out the Toilet bowl and caves)
Forbidding Canyon / Rainbow Bridge
East of Navajo Mountain : is where the canyon walls get narrower and taller. This is also the furthest away from the main marinas so you will need full supplies and gas after passing “Last Chance Bay”.
The Escalante River
Cathedral in the Desert
La Gorce Arch
Lost Eden Canyon
Take a Jetski and cruise in to Cathedral Canyon and enjoy the views like from my viral video:
Get up early and get out to Reflection Canyon to enjoy the amazing glassy conditions and reflections of the beautiful rocks and canyons
Go to the end of West Canyon and hike all the way to the end to find some magical slot canyons.
Get to Rainbow Bridge national monument early and take the easy hike through the beautiful views to see the amazing arch structure
Get out early and enjoy the glassy water conditions with the wake boat
What to bring
Water Shoes or Hiking Sandals for adventuring https://amzn.to/33yoyH3
Sun Hats https://amzn.to/3iC9VJ5
GoPro waterproof camera https://amzn.to/3mjOWgu
Other Essentials: sun screen, lip balm, lotion, bio degradable shampoo and soap (bath in the lake)