Lake Powell Houseboat Adventure: 10 Lessons Learned

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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 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.

Delicate Arch Hike: 6 Things to Know Before You Go

Arches National Park is home to over 2000 natural arches and boasts the largest concentration of arches in the world. Of all those 2000 arches, there is one that stands out – Delicate Arch. This arch gets more press than all the other arches combined. It is the star of both Utah’s license plate and state quarter! Visiting Arches National Park without seeing Delicate Arch seems like visiting Paris and skipping the Eiffle Tower. Who doesn’t want their picture made with this icon?

Delicate Arch hike in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch is not visible from the park’s main road. To see this rock star, you can either trek the 3 mile round trip Delicate Arch hike or visit the much easier to access Delicate Arch Viewpoints area to see the arch from about a mile away.

Delicate Arch hike in Arches National Park
The Delicate Arch Hike slickrock.

If you are physically able, I recommend making the Delicate Arch hike which begins at Wolf Ranch. It is a much more rewarding experience. Should you decide to hike this trail, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. It’s uphill. Delicate Arch hike has an elevation gain of 480 feet.  Once you pass the first flat section of the trail, the elevation gain is primarily up open slickrock. The trail is marked with carins.Delicate Arch hike in Arches National ParkDelicate Arch hike open slickrock
  2. There is no shade. Most of the trail traverses slickrock. So, there is basically no shade. The sun can be quite intense during the most challenging part of this hike. Consider wearing a hat and don’t forget your sunscreen! Also, don’t expect respite from the sun once you reach the arch. There is no real shade up there either.Delicate Arch hike open slickrock
  3. Water is a must. I know this is obvious but still worth mentioning. It would be really easy to get dehydrated on the Delicate Arch hike. Arches National Park is a high desert environment, so I suggest bringing plenty of water since you’ll be exerting quite a bit of effort.Delicate Arch hike in Arches National Park
  4. You won’t be alone. The Delicate Arch hike is popular. If you are seeking solitude in Arches National Park, look elsewhere. During busy times of the year, getting a photo of Delicate Arch without people in it can be challenging. Be patient and you’ll likely have an opportunity, albeit brief.Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park
  5. Mind the drop off. In general, this is not a trail where you have to worry about taking a tumble off a cliff. However, there is a short section right before you reach the arch where you might want to keep the kiddos close.

    Delicate Arch hike narrow portion of the trail
    Narrow Section of the Delicate Arch Hike
  6. You may not want to leave. The stonework here is mesmerizing. Gazing on this giant spectacle from different perspectives never gets old. It is a bit of work to get up to the arch, so allow yourself extra time to sit and stare.View of Delicate Arch Thru Rock Opening

The Delicate Arch hike is not easy. But, the payoff is worth every uphill step! With the La Sal Mountains as a backdrop, this natural wonder poses perfectly on the rock face. No wonder this Delicate Arch steals so much of the spotlight!

Delicate Arch Hike Closeup View of Delicate Arch
We made it! The Delicate Arch hike is worth every step!

For more information on Arches National Park hikes, check out Turret ArchPark AvenueBalanced Rock, and Family Fun in Moab.

Breathtaking Drive to the Needles in Canyonlands National Park

Time always flies on vacation! On most trips, there are more things to do than time allows.  It can be really hard to narrow down the to-do list!

In Moab, Utah, you can’t help but face this dilemma! Nestled near 2 National Parks, the Colorado River, and some of the best rock terrain in the nation, it is tough to decide what to include on the itinerary and what to save for another trip!

On our first trip to Moab, we spent time in Canyonlands National Park Islands in the Sky District.  We wanted to visit the Needles District, but there just wasn’t time to make that drive.

On our most recent trip, we debated whether or not it was worth the 1 hour and 45 minutes drive one way to see the Needles.  We decided to go for it and quickly found out that the answer is YES!Indian Creek Scenic Drive Utah

To reach the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park from Moab, head south on Hwy 191. Turn right (west) on SR 211.  This is where the drive starts to get really interesting.

SR 211 is also known as the Indian Creek Scenic Byway. It joins highway US Hwy 191 about 40 miles south of Moab. This Scenic Byway is 18 miles each way and ends at the entrance to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.  The highway winds among spectacular buttes and rock formations!

As you enjoy this scenic drive, don’t miss Newspaper Rock, one of the country’s largest collections of petroglyphs which is also a Utah State Historic Site. This amazing rock art is about 15 miles west of Hwy 191.

Once you arrive at the entrance to the Needles District, the possibilities are endless! And, there are far fewer people in this district than in Islands in the Sky. I think you’ll find a Moab day trip to the Needles along the Indian Creek Scenic Byway to be vacation time well spent!Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Turret Arch: Short Hike, Big Payoff

One thing I love about Arches National Park is there are several short yet spectacular hikes. The hike to Turret Arch is one of them. This hike doesn’t require much of your vacation time but still has that WOW factor you’ll remember long after the trip!Turret Arch Trail Arches National ParkTurret Arch Arches National Park- 5 trips

You may actually be more familiar with Turret Arch’s neighbors – the North and South Windows, aka the Spectacles. And while the Windows might be the more well known kids on the block, don’t discount Turret Arch.

Windows Trail sign showing the trail to Turret Arch.
Windows Trail sign showing the trail to Turret Arch.

The trail to Turret Arch is a short spur off the Windows Loop Trail.  The whole loop trail is only a little over a mile with minimal elevation gain, so it is quite family friendly.  While Turret Arch is purported to be smaller than the Windows, it didn’t seem that way to me. Perhaps its the arch’s vertical shape that makes it seem so massive.Turret Arch Trail Arches National ParkTurret Arch Arches National Park-18 Trips

The path to Turret Arch includes an easy set of stairs.  Once you reach the top, you can walk through the arch and view it from the other side.  This is a great place to just sit and enjoy the scenic view of rock formations and the La Sal Mountains.Turret Arch Trail Arches National ParkTurret Arch Arches National Park-11 trip

Turret Arch is a castle-like rock formation which actually contains two significant openings. While walking through the large arch, you’ll notice a second smaller opening. The smaller more circular arch is adjacent to the large vertical one.Turret Arch Trail Arches National ParkTurret Arch Arches National Park-9 trip

While Turret Arch might not be the most famous arch in Arches National Park, it is one of the one of the most dramatic.  Standing under this massive rock formation you can appreciate its scale while taking in outstanding views of this unique National Park.

5 Reasons to Get Out of Your Car and Hike Balanced Rock

One of Arches National Park’s most iconic formations is Balanced Rock.  Perched precariously atop a mudstone monolith is a 3600 ton perfectly balanced rock…or so it seems.  In reality, the rocks are attached.Balanced Rock Trailhead Sign

Balanced Rock can be seen from a distance when driving the park’s main road.  The parking lot also offers an outstanding view. So, it might be tempting to just pause, snap a photo, and skip the trail. Don’t.

Here are 5 reasons why it is worth your time to get out of the car and take the hike:

  1. The Trail is Short and Flat: There aren’t many excuses that hold water for not hiking this trail.  At only .33 mile with very minimal elevation gain, it is suitable for the whole family.  It doesn’t take much of your vacation time to enjoy this wonder.Balanced Rock Trail
  2. It’s All About Perspective: Many photos of Balanced Rock are from the same angle. Yet, it has a distinctive and unique shape. To appreciate this feature of Balanced Rock, you must walk around it on the trail. Balanced Rock
  3. Appreciate the Scale: Balanced Rock is big… really big!  It is proported to be the size of 3 school buses… although I suspect that this is an approximation.  Walking around this well-known balancing act helps you better appreciate its uniqueness. Balanced Rock Trail
  4. Stop and Smell the Roses: While there are no actual roses, there are plenty of plants to enjoy. And while I wouldn’t suggest getting close enough to a cactus to smell it, I do recommend stopping to observe the many creatures which call this small section of the park home.Tree on Balanced Rock Trailimage
  5. It Might Be Your Last Chance:  Not to be overly dramatic, but someday it will fall. Like all of the formations in Arches National Park, over time the forces of nature change the landscape. This means that Balanced Rock will eventually come crashing down.Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock is just one of the many special things that makes Arches National Park a great place to visit.  The best way to enjoy this natural wonder is slow down and appreciate this spectacular sight!

Balanced Rock

Arches National Park: Park Avenue Trail

When I think about some of my favorite areas in Arches National Park, Park Avenue Trail immediately comes to mind. This section of the park is stunning and easy to reach! The trail meanders thru a canyon flanked by enormous fins, monoliths, and statues.

View from Park Avenue TrailPark Avenue Trail Arches National Park_-7 Trips

This hiking trail is rated as moderate because of the fairly steep descent into the canyon from the parking area.  However, there are stairs, so it isn’t treacherous.

Park Avenue Trail is 1 mile in length which makes it a 2 mile out and back hike.  If you are fortunate enough to have 2 vehicles, you can save yourself the uphill climb.  Simply begin at the Park Avenue Parking area and leave the 2nd vehicle at Courthouse Wash!

Park Avenue Trail Sign with Map
Park Avenue Trail Map

If you don’t have the time (or energy) to hike the Park Avenue Trail, you can still enjoy some fantastic views from the Park Avenue Viewpoint at the parking area.  However, taking time to hike this trail offers a unique perspective on one of Arches National Park’s iconic vistas.

Park Avenue Trail Viewpoint
Park Avenue Trail Viewpoint

Spring Break Family Fun in Moab

This year, we spent spring break in Moab, UT.  Moab is an awesome family vacation destination!  There is so much to see and do in this beautiful part of the country.  A week just isn’t long enough!  Unfortunately, we did have to narrow down the to-do list and will have to save some adventures for next visit!

Here are 5 highlights of our spring break in Moab:

  1. Arches National Park:  Arches is a no-brainer.  It is so close to Moab and very accessible. We enjoyed several hikes in the park, and of course, the scenic drive is a real treat!

    Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
    Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
  2. Islands in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park:  Islands in the Sky is another no-brainer if you are in Moab.  It only takes about 40 minutes to get there and the views are breathtaking… think Grand Canyon breathtaking!

    Islands in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park
    Islands in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park
  3. The Needles in Canyonlands National Park:  This section of Canyonlands National Park is more remote, and it takes about 2 hours to get there from Moab.  It is worth the drive! This was our first visit to this section of the park, and we enjoyed several short hikes in the Needles.

    The Needles in Canyonlands National Park
    The Needles in Canyonlands National Park
  4. Rock Climbing:  In an area known for its amazing rock formations, what better way to enjoy the scenery than getting up close and personal!  On our guided adventure with Moab Cliffs and Canyons, Sean and Trace on KSL Today, adventure specialists with NBC affiliate in Utah, joined us and filmed a news segment on family fun in Moab.  It was a real treat!

    The Needles in Canyonlands National Park
    Rock Climbing at the Ice Cream Parlor Near Moab
  5. Potash Scenic Byway:  Potash Scenic Byway follows the Colorado river from Moab.  This 34 mile stretch of highway was a great way for us to unwind after a day of strenuous hiking! It ends at a potash mine and there is a great picnic area by the river.

    Colorado River at Potash
    Colorado River at Potash

We had a blast in Moab! With only a week, we didn’t even scratch the surface of all there is to do in this outdoor playground.  I guess that just means we’ll have to go back!