South Lake Powell
South Lake Powell
Closest Marinas: Wahweap, Dangling Rope
Whether you rent a powerboat, personal watercraft, water skis, wakeboard, paddleboard, tube, or kayak, there’s no shortage of great places to explore on Lake Powell. Here are just a few you’ll enjoy:
Antelope Canyon is most commonly known for its scenic slot canyon region, but near its confluence with the Colorado River, the canyon widens and provides an enticing boating adventure. Enter the mouth of this canyon about 4 miles up from the Glen Canyon Dam on the East side of Antelope Island. The Canyon's kinks and bends will draw you in and the towering walls of sandstone on either side of you will keep you peering around the next corner.
Dangling Rope Marina is like a modern-day frontier trading post. Situated mid-lake, it’s only accessible by water (the people who live and work there must come and go by boat) and is completely solar powered. If you are crossing Lake Powell, this is the must-stop midpoint and a storied tradition, too. It features a fuel dock, a store, and plenty of ice. But it’s best known for its great soft-serve ice cream and hot dogs, which taste infinitely better after a long sunny boat cruise. Kids also love the friendly schools of carp and striped bass that greet the visitors. Don’t miss it! Perfect for those hot summer days.
If you’re looking for a quiet, more private, and more intimate place to play and explore, check out Face Canyon. With its high walls, it offers more shade in summer—and less traffic, so you’ll feel as though you have it all to yourself. About 2.5 hours from the marina by houseboat, Face Canyon offers plenty of scenic offshoots and canyons that are fun to explore by kayak, powerboat or personal watercraft.
When the early river runners saw this big notch as they came down the Colorado River in the days before the Glen Canyon Dam, they named it Gunsight Canyon for its resemblance to that part of a firearm. Today, you can still see the slot that rises some 800 feet above Lake Powell, and towering Gunsight Butte, which casts its shadow (and provides great summer shade) across the canyon. Gunsight Canyon begins with two miles of pristine sandy beach, where you can easily anchor your houseboat and play with any type of water toy, since the canyon is perfect for waterskiing, tubing, and wakeboarding.
One of the longest of Lake Powell's 96 major side canyons, Navajo Canyon is also one of the only side canyons to have been a tributary of the Colorado River. The canyon twists and meanders 15.5 miles past 600' high walls laden with Navajo Tapestries; iron oxide and manganese residue from the above, now eroded, beds of shale, that have "draped" down the sides of the canyon walls.
Seven miles across and nine miles long, Padre Bay is the biggest bay on Lake Powell. It’s also one of the most scenic, with spectacular views of monuments such as Domingues Butte, Tower Butte, Cookie Jar Butte, and the aptly-named Boundary Butte, which sits astride both Utah and Arizona. So while you’ll have plenty of space for powerboating and pulling along skiers, wakeboarders, or kids (or grandparents!) on tubes, you’ll also find plenty of wind-sheltered areas to park your houseboat, and alluring backshoots like Kane Wash Canyon that are great for kayaking and exploring.
Rainbow Bridge was established as a National Monument on May 30, 1910 - roughly 10 months after the Douglas - Cummings expedition "discovered" the natural stone bridge on August 14, 1909. The term "discovered" is used loosely because numerous Native American Tribes knew about the bridge's existence for centuries; many tribes even had tales, myths, and legends surrounding the bridge's purpose. President William H. Taft designated Rainbow Bridge as a National Monument.
A big, broad, scenic expanse, Wahweap Bay gives you plenty of wide-open space for waterskiing and wakeboarding, yet it also offers its share of notch canyons (such as Wiregrass Canyon, Lone Rock Canyon, and Ice Cream Canyon) that are ideal for kayaks and even paddleboards. But perhaps the best thing about Wahweap Bay is its proximity to, well, everything. It’s home to the very marina where you’ll actually rent your houseboat, so you’re never more than just a few minutes away from fuel, ice, dining, and the marina store. This makes Wahweap Canyon a good choice for anyone who likes to do it all, easily—as well as for spur-of-the-moment types, who enjoy the ability to do a lot without planning ahead.
Warm Creek Bay is just 20 minutes from the marina by houseboat via the Castle Rock Cut (which is usually open spring, summer, and fall), offering a great combination of remote splendor and convenient access to the marina, gas, dining, and supplies. Great for wakeboarding (it’s about the same size as Wahweap Bay), Warm Creek Bay also provides beautiful views and nice sandy beaches. Take your personal watercraft or kayak exploring side canyons such as Crosby Canyon, where the set of a western town was constructed for the 1994 movie Maverick.
About 2.5 hours from the marina by houseboat, West Canyon is perfect for exploring, filled with offshoots like Labyrinth Canyon that are too narrow for a houseboat, yet ideal for exploring by powerboat or personal watercraft, or kayak—with multicolored walls towering hundreds of feet above you. The exploring doesn’t stop at the water’s edge, either: Once you reach the back of these canyons, you can easily beach your craft and take advantage of some of the most scenic slot-canyon hiking in the entire Colorado Plateau. It’s great fun, great exercise, and a great way to get close to nature. The mouth of West Canyon is 26 miles up-lake from Glen Canyon Dam. The easiest access is by boat from Wahweap, but it is possible to boat down from Bullfrog. There are wonderful sights to see while on the lake. The part of West Canyon inundated by the lake is very scenic - it's a great boating destination in and of itself. It's alternately wide and narrow, with many coves and sculpted slick rock walls. As you boat into West Canyon you will think you see its end sights, then the walls open up and you find you can go farther and farther and farther. There are submerged rocky hazards near the mouth of the canyon so boat carefully. The lake level will determine how far back into the canyon you can boat. Sometimes you will be able to tie up along shore and begin hiking directly up the stream. Other times shallow water will force you to tie up a short distance down-canyon and then jump into the lake water to begin the hike.