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Lake Powell is a massive reservoir on the Utah/Arizona border. There aren’t many roads in this sparsely populated desert region, so this man-made lake makes the perfect highway to explore canyon country! There is no better way to experience the surreal beauty of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area than a Lake Powell houseboat vacation!
Lake Powell is HUGE! It stretches 186 miles in length and has approximately 1960 miles of shoreline! Lake Powell was formed by the completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1966 and took 17 years to fill!
If you boat regularly on Lake Powell, then you may know some or all of these things. However, as this was our first Lake Powell houseboat adventure, we learned several lessons:
- Communication is difficult. During much of our trip, we had no means of communication. Cell phone signal was extremely spotty (at best). The houseboat had a marine radio, but it did not work everywhere (including places we anchored overnight). I had anticipated this issue and rented a satellite phone for this trip in case of emergency.
- A paper map is a MUST! Because of the issues mentioned in #1, don’t leave the marina without a detailed paper map! We used the waterproof and tear resistant map by National Geographic. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Utah / Arizona, USA (Trails Illustrated Map 213) Also, keep in mind that when you are down on the lake, those rocks will all start to look alike. It is a good idea to keep up with where you are on the paper map as you move along through the lake.
- The wind can be fierce. Pay close attention to the weather before you leave. Unfortunately, a lake wind advisory was issued after we left the marina, and we had no knowledge of it until we returned. In retrospect, we should have found a place to anchor as soon as we noticed the winds picking up.
- It was easier to anchor in the morning. During our visit, we found the winds to be calmer in the morning, and thus, it was easier to anchor the boat at that time of day. After night one, we moved the boat first thing and anchored before noon. Again, check the weather and with the locals at the time of your trip.
- Lake Powell has lots of underwater obstacles. I recommend talking with someone with recent experience on the lake to warn you of those areas that are extra rocky. Make notes on that paper map you’re bringing with you.
- Anchoring takes physical strength. Keep in mind that you’ll have to dig 2 or more fairly deep holes to anchor the houseboat securely. Make sure at least one or two people in your party have the strength to do this. This would be a significant problem for someone with a mechanical injury.
- Seriously consider the extra insurance. Lake Powell is in a canyon filled with those same types of monoliths and rock formations you see all over this area. But, these are under water and difficult to see. Another potential hazard in narrow channels is the wind. It can blow your boat against the rock. (This happened to us, fortunately, the damage was minimal.) It pays to be careful and get the extra insurance.
- Check and recheck supplies. It is important to have all the needed supplies before launch. You do not want to have to go back to get something. It is too far and just not practical.
- It took us longer to get back to the marina than expected. We were concerned that we’d be late for drop off time. There are 2 reasons for this: houseboats are slow (we knew this) and Lake Powell is humongous (we knew but couldn’t fully appreciate this). We made it just under the wire!
- It is completely amazing. There is absolutely nothing else like a Lake Powell houseboat adventure. This was such a completely awesome experience that I can’t even begin to describe it adequately.
A Lake Powell houseboat trip was a bucket list experience for us. It exceeded all expectations. I’d love to return and stay longer, of course! We did learn some lessons from this adventure, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Lake Powell is nothing short of magical!
Page, Arizona sits on the shores of Lake Powell. Check out this other information: Lake Powell Bathtub Ring, Horseshoe Bend: 5 Things to Know BEFORE You Go, Glen Canyon Dam Tour, You CAN Tour Antelope Canyon, and Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon.