In June and Sept each year our family makes the trek from ID to Lake Powell. Even though it’s a 12+ hour drive with small kids and pulling a boat, it’s our FAVORITE family vacation! (it must be pretty fun, right?!) There’s so much I could say about Lake Powell and what it means to us. To let you know how much we love it, we named our youngest daughter Lola Page so that her initials would be LP for Lake Powell. Her middle name Page is named after the small town by Lake Powell where we often get our last minute groceries; Page, Arizona. You see what I mean?? We might be a little obsessed!
Lake Powell is the second largest man-made lake in the country and boasts over 2,000 miles of shoreline (Lake Mead is #1). It was completed in 1963 and was named after John Powell, a civil war veteran who explored the Colorado River extensively. The Colorado River is special because it and it’s tributaries are the water supply for Lake Powell. The dam that creates Lake Powell is Glen Canyon Dam. It is massive (1,560 feet long, 710 feet above bedrock) and is just a short drive in a car or boat from Wahweap Marina. The Carl Hayden Visitors Center is right next to Glen Canyon Dam and bridge. It’s full of information on tours, conservation
efforts, and history of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. I could type an entire post about the history of Lake Powell and interesting facts, but I will just let you click here and read for yourself.
When we stay at Lake Powell we use a houseboat. For those of you who aren’t familiar with house-boating, just think of it like using a camping trailer…except it drives on water. Isn’t that cool? I had never been on a houseboat or really knew what one was until I met my husband who grew up coming to Lake Powell. Now I’m hooked! People often ask about house boating and how it all works. In a nutshell, Lake Powell is part of a national park so there are no VRBO options or time shares. They do allow multiple ownerships on houseboats and that is what we do. If you want more info on house boating or anything related to Lake Powell, head on over to lakepowell.com. Here’s some things we do when we take our summer adventures to Lake Powell:
Safety-Whenever we’re around water, safety always comes first (I have to say this before anything else). So many accidents can happen in an instant. Something we don’t budge on is life jackets. The kids ALWAYS have them on unless they get permission from their parents to take them off. The water floaties the littlest girls wore on this trip are coast guard approved and acceptable to wear on the boat. They give them more freedom to move around and are less bulky (no “rub spots” either!). I would recommend getting one of these for your littler kids for sure! There’s some really cute styles for boys and girls so shop around!
Lone Rock– This is a beautiful, LARGE rock that you will see first if you are driving from the UT to Wahweap Marina. It’s something my kids always look for because it means WE’RE CLOSE to being
able to get out of the car!! Once in the water, we love to drive around Lone Rock to surf, or just chill. It truly is majestic and amazing how large and secluded it really is; hence the name Lone Rock right?? It also makes a good shade spot in the middle of the day when it’s HOT.
Wahweap Marina-Before we find a spot to park the houseboat on the Lake, we chill on our houseboat in the slip at the marina. Our houseboat stays there year ’round when people aren’t using
it.The “dock life” at Wahweap Marina is fun! There are rows and rows of houseboats and people from all over the U.S. and different countries. Everyone is friendly; you can literally start up a conversation with just about anyone like you were old friends.There is a store with the basic necessities and some souvenirs, clothes, etc. and a restaurant. We like to stroll down there to do a little shopping and score some sweet Lake Powell gear.
Latitiude 37 Restaurant– Located next to the marina store this restaurant has some good food and makes for a fun stop usually at the end of our trip. The name is such because, you guessed it, it’s located at latitude 37!! The restaurant is accessible by land and water. There’s a balcony above the restaurant that has some great views! We don’t eat there every time, but it’s a nice break from cooking meals and doing dishes. Their menu is unique, reasonably priced, and they always have friendly staff (they’re in Lake Powell, they have to be happy, right??)
Sand Hill– This might look like a simple sandy hill, easy hike to the top, right?? I promise, if you make it to the top it will be a workout! The sand is so soft, your feet sink in deep. Once you’ve conquered the hill, and you’re really sweaty, we have a rule: you HAVE to lean in and touch the rock! Then your Sand Hill hike is complete. 🙂 Now you have the chance to look around (and breathe!) There are names carved into the rockside. We love to look at them all, it’s really cool! Make sure you do this in the morning (while it’s shaded) or the sand will be hot!
Cathedral– This narrow canyon is beautiful and it’s not too far from Dangling Rope Marina. The canyons become so narrow that most boats won’t drive up very far…but we like to test our luck! With some good spotters on
the side, we can make it happen! There’s often very narrow spots followed by openings that are beautiful! This is one of my favorite day trips.
Dangling Rope Marina– This place is almost heavenly! After a long boat ride and what seems like the middle of nowhere, appears Dangling Rope!! There’s a gas station, bathrooms, and typical convenience store goodies. The best part?? They have SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM. It seriously tastes a million times better than anywhere else. The kids love to eat some and then feed the rest to the fish!
Rainbow Bridge-Approximately 7 miles up the lake from Dangling Rope Marina (50 miles from Wahweap Marina) you will find this beauty. At 290 ft tall and 275 ft wide, Rainbow Bridge is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is a spiritual landmark to this day for native people and I’d be lying if I said it’s not a spiritual experience to see in person. The hike in and out is about 1 mile each way, of course depending on the water level it can be a little longer or shorter. There’s not a ton of shade so make sure to bring water with you! There are rangers stationed at the top next to the bridge to answer questions and tell cool facts about the historical landmark, I want that job!
Beach-One of the things we look for when attempting to find the perfect spot to park the houseboat is a nice beach. It needs to be pretty flat (which can be hard to find) and have a little “pokeys” as possible. Some years the beaches are “iffy” but this year we lucked out and had great beaches! It’s so awesome to watch the kids run around and play on the beach, listening to them giggle never gets old. We have sand toys but I swear they use old water bottles and Dixie cups just as much, so packing sand toys isn’t even a necessity.
Boating-Of course one of the things we love to do at Powell is boating and there’s plenty of things to keep us entertained. Surfing, tubing, wake boarding and taking day trips on the boat are some of our favorite things! We often stop if there’s a good cliff to jump off. I say “we” but I really mean NOT me….unless it’s a little cliff. I cliff jump with my 5 year old, Halle and she even says I’m a wuss! Lets just say I like to take pictures of that stuff more than I like to participate. 🙂
Floating Water Pad-These are so cool!! They’re foam pads that FLOAT ON WATER and the kids love them! It was so sweet watching “the littles” play on them this year. Kids of all ages had a blast making up all sorts of games! Adults enjoy lounging on them. 🙂 We hooked two together just by laying one edge over the other and the kids would run down them into the water giggling the whole way!
Paddle boards/kayaks-Another kid favorite!! They love to hop in and ride across the bay to jump cliffs or just climb up the rocks and take a quick hike. They’re an easy mode of transportation. I am always surprised at how fast kids learn to use these things! You would get a kick out of some of the adults who try them out (that’s putting it nicely). Lets just say they both paddle boarding
and kayaking take some balance and coordination, you know, those things that must fade as you get older… 🙂 (I won’t mention any names).
Exploring/hiking-Wherever we end up beaching the houseboat there’s always plenty of places to explore. Early morning hikes usually involve some sort of reptile being caught and the kids love it. My brother in law Jeff is a master “critter catcher” and always brings entertainment and fun for everyone. He’s really good at catching reptiles!! Don’t worry, they are always released into the wild unharmed…mostly. 🙂
Family Time-One of the BEST things about going to Lake Powell is the quality time we spend with the people there. It’s close living quarters! You get to know your family REALLY well…..and I’m lucky enough to have great family who I LOVE to spend time with! My kids adore their cousins and get to make the best memories with them. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Whether it’s hiking, kayaking, exploring, playing at the beach, boating, they are always happy to go with their cousins and make it an adventure. The Ivies have come with us in the past, but couldn’t make it this year! We sure missed them, but know there’s lots of time to make memories in the future.
Jax admiring the beauty in Cathedral
Let us know if you have some favorite things to do in Lake Powell! If you’ve never been, GO!! You will make memories to last a lifetime.