Lake Powell is one of those bucket list places you just have to see. It’s an incredible spectacle of nature, as one of the largest reservoirs in the United States. Lake Powell sprawls itself across the Arizona-Utah border and gleans around 2 million visitors a year. That may sound like a lot, but when you get out on the vast waters and search for your own nooks and crannies, you soon realize that Lake Powell is a giant big enough to hide everyone. Given its sheer size, there are secrets to Lake Powell you have to know before you go.
In Lake Powell, you’ll some of the most incredible views, gorgeous sunsets, and sheer red cliffs climbing to heaven that will make you feel small compared to the grandeur of God’s creations.
To really do Lake Powell the right way, you need to these secrets before you go.
7 Secrets to Lake Powell You Gotta Know Before You Go
My husband’s family has been going to Lake Powell for decades, and so we’ve learned the ins and outs, plus a few secrets to help the vacation be an unforgettable one.
1. To really enjoy Lake Powell, you gotta do it by houseboat.
Lake Powell is a boating vacation and some people choose to take their motor boat out on the water and then find a place to camp. But I’m telling you, the very best way to do Lake Powell is on a houseboat and for a minimum of five days.
It can be spendy renting a houseboat, but it’s worth it. It fits multiple families, which makes it more cost-effective when you split the cost. You’ll pick up your houseboat from one of the Lake Powell marinas (see below) and from there, embark on your own to create your own adventure.
A houseboat is ideal because it is literally like a home on water. You can cook, sleep comfortably in beds, grill on top of the deck, and jump off the boat in the daytime. It’s a blast!
2. Know your marinas.
There are four main marinas where you can launch your boat into Lake Powell:
- Wahweap Marina– Located in Page, AZ, this large marina has camping access, lodging, food, showers, and a full service station.
- Bullfrog Marina- Probably the second largest marina (next to Wahweap) and located about an hour away from Hanksville, Utah and is across from the Halls Crossing Marina. Here you’ll find a dump station for your houseboat, boat launch, fish cleaning station, a lodge, a restaurant, and a grocery store.
- Halls Crossing Marina- The smaller marina across from Bullfrog, but offers a launch ramp and free boat pump-out station.
- Antelope Point Marina– Also located in Page, AZ, this is a favorite marina of ours to launch from because of its location and access to grocery shopping in Page. Antelope Point has a boat launch, houseboat rentals and other water sports rentals (like jet skis, and kayaks), and is very near one of the most magical Lake Powell sights—Antelope Canyon, a natural wonder of slot canyons and ethereal filtering light on Navajo land.
3. Stock up before you go. And I mean stock up.
Once you’re on Lake Powell, there is nothing there in terms of commerce. It’s just you, the water, the cliffs, and the stars at night time. Which means it is of the utmost importance to stock up before you hit the water.
It depends on how long you are staying, but we’ve found that the best way to make sure you have enough to eat and drink while you’re out on Lake Powell is to make a detailed menu plan of each day. Shop for the ingredients you’ll need, plus snacks and plenty of drinks, in a town near the marina you’ll be launching from. We always shop at Walmart in Page, Arizona to get the best prices. Make sure you have several packs or jugs of water.
Other necessities include plenty of sunscreen (I love this kind) and good life jackets for the whole family. I like having these ones for my kids because they have a handle on the back to pull kids out of the water.)
4. Gotta have the toys.
As stated earlier, Lake Powell is a boating trip, so to really enjoy it to its fullest, you gotta have a boat. We’ve also found that jet skis are a must. If you don’t own them, rent them. It may feel painful to fork over the extra dough for jet ski rentals, but once you’re out flying through the water, exploring caves and slot canyons, you’ll be 100% glad you did it! The great thing about having jet skis was that the older kids had a blast on them. Also, it enables you to take a break from the group and go exploring.
Water toys are a must on Lake Powell as well. This trip, we discovered the AirUps Water Launcher which catapulted water fun to a whole new level. Seriously, catapulted. Look at this thing!!
If you’re having a family reunion, hosting a summer camp, or headed out to the lake, the water launcher is insanely fun. This is the 25′ x 12′ Water Launch from AirUps and it was the perfect size. It shipped in a fairly large box and we took it with us onto the houseboat along with a ShopVac to blow it up. It took about 15 minutes to inflate and a few trial runs to get it just right, and then it was go-time!
Here are some other fun water toys you want to make sure to have at Lake Powell. Basically from sunup to sundown, you’re playing in the water or just soaking up the sun and water toys are a must. (This “inflate-a-bull” would be awesome!)
5. Finding the perfect spot
A lot of the mystique about Lake Powell lies in your search for the perfect spot. There are literally thousands of places you can bed down for the night. But sometimes the stars align and you find that perfect spot. It may be a sandy beach where the kids can play, or a magnificent canyon with enormous red rock walls hiding you from the world. So how do you find the perfect spot? Mostly it’s a sheer stroke of luck.
I recommend getting a map of Lake Powell (this one is waterproof and tear proof, which you’ll need). We’ve had a lot of luck in Rock Creek Bay, but that’s all I’ll say. Some secrets have to remain secrets. But when you find a good spot, mark it on your map for next time!
6. Hidden wonders
Finally, one of the very best things about Lake Powell are all the natural wonders you can boat to or oftentimes, stumble across. Here are some of our favorite spots to check out:
Rainbow Bridge National Monument: If you’re hoping to see those impressive stone arches Southern Utah is famous for, you have to head to Rainbow Bridge, a national monument described as the world’s tallest natural bridge. This natural wonder remains exclusive as it can really only be seen by boat in Lake Powell. There’s a short mile walk to the monument, but it is definitely worth the trek. Take water as the temperatures during the summer are extremely hot.
Rock Creek Bay cave: This one may be harder to find, and there are a few caves tucked in cliffs, but if you’re in Rock Creek Bay area, do some exploring by the cliffs and look for this cave you can cliff jump in.
Dangling Rope: This small marina can only be accessed by boat and is in the heart of Lake Powell. You can fuel up (although it’s expensive), grab a few groceries and supplies, and get soft-serve ice cream there.
Cliff jumping: Those tumbling red rock cliffs aren’t just eye candy, they’re also perfect for cliff jumping. After you’ve practiced the proper safety precautions, and all kids have life jackets on (no exceptions), have fun plunging into this natural water park.
Antelope Canyon: If you enter Lake Powell via Page, Arizona, you’re right next to one of the world’s most beautiful spots, Antelope Canyon. This incredible slot canyon can only be accessed by booking a tour, as it is on Navajo land. Inside, rays of light filter down through the ceiling, creating a kaleidoscope of orange and red. I haven’t made it here yet, but it is definitely on the list for next trip. Locals know ways of getting there via kayak, but that would take some asking around.
So if you’re looking for a vacation of a lifetime, make Lake Powell happen. Our favorite way to do it is with family on a houseboat. We’ve made so many fun family memories there that the second we get home, we all start planning a trip back.