Tip & Tee:  Lake Powell Time

Asking “What time is it?” on Lake Powell isn’t a straightforward question! There are three reasons for this: location, location, location!

Lake Powell time can be a bit confusing.  Lake Powell sits on the border of Utah and Arizona as well as the Navajo Nation.

Lake Powell time can be confusing during Daylight Savings Time.  Utah observes Daylight Savings Time, but Arizona does not. The Navajo Nation, on the other hand, does observe Daylight Savings Time.Lake Powell

Officially, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area follows Arizona time with one exception, Dangling Rope Marina, which follows Utah time.

Trip Tip: Lake Powell Time

Why does the time matter? No one wants to pay late charges on watercraft rentals! I suggest that you bring along an old school watch.  Pay attention to the required return time as well as the time at the rental location. Set your watch accordingly.Lake Powell

Relying on a cell phone or other device connected to cellular service can be risky.  First and foremost, cell service on Lake Powell is really spotty.  Secondly, the time on the device can switch depending on where you are in the lake which can mean being late to return your rental!Lake Powell Houseboat

Unfortunately, we forgot our watch. However, we were able to turn one of our devices on airplane mode at the marina.  We left it on airplane mode throughout the trip, so we were able to keep track of the correct time and avoided those pesky late charges!

Lake Powell Tip & Tee
This Lake Powell tee wasn’t easy to find! I had to go into several stores to find it!

When it comes to shopping on a trip, I am a total tourist! My favorite souvenirs are travel tee shirts! Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection. In Tip & Tee, I share some of my treasures and a Trip Tip for that destination!

For more information Lake Powell and the surrounding area, check out the following:




Lake Powell Houseboat Adventure: 10 Lessons Learned

*This post contains an affiliate link to a product I used.

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 Houseboat

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:

  1. 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.

    Lake Powell Houseboat
    I tested satellite phone in an area where we had no other form of communication. It worked.
  2. 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 your down in 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.

    Lake Powell Houseboat Map
    National Geographic Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Map
  3. 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.

    Lake Powell Houseboat-5 trip
    The Lake Powell Wind
  4. 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 Houseboat
    Moving the Houseboat in the Morning
  5. 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.Lake Powell Rock Formations
  6. 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.

    Lake Powell Houseboat Anchor
    The Houseboat Anchor
  7. 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.Lake Powell Houseboat
  8. 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.

    Lake Powell the cut trips
    Passing Through the Cut
  9. 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!Lake Powell Houseboat Marina
  10. 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.

    Lake Powell Houseboat
    The Night Sky over Lake Powell

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!Lake Powell Houseboat

Page, Arizona sits on the shores of Lake Powell. Check out this other information:  Lake Powell Bathtub RingHorseshoe Bend: 5 Things to Know BEFORE You GoGlen Canyon Dam TourYou CAN Tour Antelope Canyon, and Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon.

Fun Fact: Lake Powell Bathtub Ring

Completed in 1966, Glen Canyon Dam was constructed as part of the Colorado River system to aid in the management of this precious resource. After the dam was built, it took 17 years for Glen Canyon to fill completely creating Lake Powell.  Lake Powell and the surrounding area are part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Lake Powell Bathtub Ring Fun Fact

One dramatic feature of Lake Powell is the distinctive line around the lake. This line is affectionately referred to as the Lake Powell bathtub ring.

Lake Powell Bathtub Ring-5 trip

The Lake Powell bathtub ring is a result of the significant drop in the water level.  The lake was considered full in 1980 and since that time the overall water level has decreased.

Lake Powell Bathtub Ring

Minerals deposited by the water created the Lake Powell bathtub ring. When the water level was up, calcium carbonate and other hard minerals in the water adhered to the rock. The line that remains provides a clear picture of the dramatic change in the lake level.

Lake Powell Bathtub Ring

To be clear, I don’t think the drop in water level is positive! However, I find the remaining Lake Powell bathtub ring fascinating. I enjoyed the bleached appearance of the rock. The color contrast is quite striking!

Lake Powell Bathtub Ring

On your next boat trip, be sure to pay extra attention to the Lake Powell bathtub ring! It is just one of many things that make this lake fascinating and such amazing place to visit!

Lake Powell bathtub ring

There is so much to see and do around Lake Powell and Page, AZ!  Check out:  Upper or Lower Antelope CanyonYou CAN Tour Antelope CanyonThe Glen Canyon Dam TourHorseshoe Bend, and Toadstools Trail.

Tip & Tee: Wind Cave National Park Tours

Wind Cave was designated a National Park in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt. Wind Cave National Park is located in South Dakota near the Black Hills and shares a border with Custer State Park.

Wind Cave National Park offers three different ranger guided walking tours. These tours are rated easy to strenuous based on the amount of walking and number of stairs, so you can choose the cave tour that is best for your family. Tour descriptions are available on the Wind Cave National Park website.

Wind Cave National Park Tours Trip Tip

If you are traveling during the busy summer season, be sure to arrive early at the Wind Cave National Park Visitor Center to purchase tickets for a cave tour.  Each tour has a limited number of tickets available for the day. Arriving early will give you a better chance to get your pick of tours and times. If you’re traveling with a child with a 4th grade pass, be sure to mention it at the tour desk!

For more information on Wind Cave National Park, check out Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour and Fun Fact: Wind Cave National Park!

Wind Cave National Park Tee Trip
Wind Cave National Park Tee Trip – I LOVE the bison shape on this shirt!

When it comes to shopping on a trip, I am a total tourist! My favorite souvenirs are travel tee shirts! Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection. In Tip & Tee, I share some of my treasures and a Trip Tip for that destination!

Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour

Tom and Jesse Bingham came across an unassuming hole in 1881. As the story goes, the wind from this hole blew Tom’s hat right off his head. A few days later, that hat was sucked in the hole in by the wind.

Wind Cave Natural Entrance
The natural entrance to Wind Cave and origin of the legendary hat story

This hole was an opening to Wind Cave. Wind Cave National Park is the world’s 6th largest known cave system with over 140 miles of explored passages.  It also has the distinction of being the first cave to be designated as a national park.

Wind Cave National Park Sign

Wind Cave was named for the pronounced way the cave breathes. The air pressure inside the cave is constantly working to equalize with the air pressure outside the cave which creates its wind.

Wind Cave Air Flow Conditions
Visitor Center display shows the current air flow in or out of the cave.

One Wind Cave’s unique features is the intricate boxwork, or honeycombed calcite formations which fill the cave.  This South Dakota cave system has the largest concentration of these lace like formations in the world. Wind Cave is unlike any other cave I’ve visited!

Boxwork on the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour
Intricate Wind Cave boxwork

The park service offers several tour options. We selected the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour. Tickets for the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour or any of the other tours available may be purchased at the tour desk in the visitor center.  If someone traveling in your party has a 4th grade pass, be sure to mention it when you purchase your tickets.

Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour Map
Map showing the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour route

The Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour is rated as one of the more difficult walking tours due to the number of stairs. There are 450 stairs on the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour. Those stairs are both up and down and occur throughout the 2/3 mile tour.

Boxwork on the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour

I recommend arriving early in the day to purchase tour tickets. Tickets are limited and available on a first come first serve basis. While we waited for our tour time, we enjoyed exploring the exhibits in the visitors center.

Map of Wind Cave National Park
Map of explored passages of Wind Cave in the visitor center

The Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour begins in the Elevator Building. Since everyone in the tour cannot fit in the elevator at the same time, we descended in groups.

Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour Elevator
The Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour elevator

Throughout the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour, the park ranger pointed out the cave’s unique features and talked about Wind Cave’s rich history.

Wind Cave Fairground Tour
At the age of 16, Alvin McDonald began exploring Wind Cave and continued until his death at age 20.  He explored 8 to 10 miles of Wind Cave and left his initials on the ceiling in this room in code.

Of course, as with any other cave tour I’ve been on, there is the obligatory turning off the lights to showcase the darkness.  Fortunately, on the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour, we were actually seated on some small bleachers during the blackout.  Side note: I would rather skip the dark portion of the cave tour.  I get it. It is super dark in there. No need to demonstrate!

Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour

The Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour lasts about hour and a half. Fortunately, after the tour is over, you get out the way you came, the elevator!

Boxwork on the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour

I did not find the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour to be all that strenuous. We stopped numerous times throughout the tour to look at formations and to hear cave history. In my opinion, a person in reasonable health with no mobility challenges should be ok on this tour.

Wind Cave National Park-19 trip

Wind Cave National Park is an incredible place both above and below ground. Whether you choose the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour or one of the other tour options, you’ll be amazed at the spectacular intricacy of the formations in this cave.

Boxwork on the Wind Cave Fairgrounds Tour

Be sure to check out this Fun Fact about Wind Cave National Park!

Fun Fact: Wind Cave National Park

The main attraction at Wind Cave National Park is, of course, the cave itself.  This incredible cave system boasts the largest concentration of rare boxwork formations in the world. With all those passages, it is one colossal underground maze. In your excitement to tour the cave, don’t miss what’s on top!

Wind Cave National Park

Above Wind Cave sits a rich mixed grass prairie.  This grassland is a great place to watch wildlife. Many species of mammals reside in Wind Cave National Park. As you drive through the park, be on the lookout for bison, elk pronghorns, prairie dogs, and coyotes.

Wind Cave National Park Bison

Prairie dog towns are not hard to spot. If you see several mounds of dirt in a cluster, chances are prairie dogs will be bobbing up and down nearby. During our visit, we were fortunate enough to see a coyote stalking a prairie dog town and the prairie dogs watching intently for predators.

Wind Cave National Park CoyoteWind Cave National Park-5 trip

As you visit Wind Cave National Park allow some time to enjoy the treasures which lie above ground.  With so many wildlife viewing opportunities and 30 miles of hiking trails, the world above ground is just as incredible as what lies beneath!

Wind Cave National Park

Planning a visit to South Dakota?  Don’t miss The Needles Eye TunnelDriving to Mount RushmoreThe Custer State Park Buffalo HerdBadlands Fossil FindsBadlands Notch Trail, and Badlands Trip and Tee.

The Needles Eye Tunnel in Custer State Park

The Needles Highway is one of the many scenic drives in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This section of Highway 87 is part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway and is located in Custer State Park. The Needles Highway stretches from the junction of Highway 16A in the east to Sylvan Lake in the west. My favorite part of this drive is the Needles Eye Tunnel.

View larger map

The Needles Highway winds through spectacular Black Hills scenery.  This 14 mile stretch of highway was completed in 1922.  The terrain is dotted with other-worldly granite rock pinnacles. While driving this highway, you’ll have a better appreciation of the formidable challenge construction crews must have faced trying to make this road happen!

Custer State Park Trips
Needles Highway scenery

The entire drive is amazing, but the Needles Eye Tunnel is truly unique. It is a one lane section of road which passes right through granite.

Needles Eye Tunnel
Make sure your vehicle meets the size requirements!

The Needles Eye Tunnel is small! Be mindful of the size restrictions. Getting stuck in a tunnel on vacation would seriously cut down on fun time!

Needles Eye Tunnel
Signs indicate the size restrictions for the tunnel.

When I first read about the Needles Eye Tunnel, I assumed its name came from the feeling you get when driving through the tunnel – like going through the eye of a needle. Not so! There is actually a rock pinnacle that looks just like a needle’s eye next to the tunnel!

The Needles Eye rock formation in Custer State Park.
The Needles Eye rock formation.

It is easy to access the Needles Eye Tunnel. It is less than 2 miles from Sylvan Lake Lodge. On the west side of the tunnel, you’ll find a couple of small pullouts by the Needles Eye rock formation. I suggest that you park and get out of your car to get a better view but watch for traffic!

Needles Eye Tunnel
There are a few places to park near the Needles Eye Tunnel.

The Needles Highway and tunnel are not open during the winter.  Typically, the season runs from April through some time in October.  Check the South Dakota Department of Transportation to find out the status of the Needles Highway for the time of your visit.

Needles Eye Tunnel in Custer State Park
Driving thru the Needles Eye Tunnel does feel like driving thru the eye of a needle!

The Black Hills in South Dakota has so much to see and do! The Needles Highway is only one of the incredible drives in this area!  The Needles Eye Tunnel is a fun feature which the whole family will remember long after your trip!

South Dakota is a great state for a road trip!  Check out the Badlands Notch Trail, the best way to drive to Mount Rushmore, and the Corn Palace in Mitchell.