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Change never ends...Hite may become a 'land-based' adventure hub

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Well-Known Member
I haven't posted in such a long time...maybe I'll catch up in another post, meanwhile, thought you'd all be interested in this:

Under a new concessionaire, Hite Marina could change from a defunct location to a land-based adventure center. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area representatives announced the possible change at Nov. 7 and 8 meetings of the Utah Guides and Outfitters and at Oct. 23 and 24 meetings of the Colorado River Guide Outfitters Association.

“What is triggering this is we’re seeing a change in visitor use in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We’re getting a lot more land-based recreation and it’s not totally focused on Lake Powell 100 percent,” said Mary Plumb, public information officer for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Plumb said Aramark Corporation, the current concessionaire at Hite, declined to be part of the changes Glen Canyon hopes to make at Hite.

“Aramark has declined to be a part of the improved services there so that puts the park service in the position, because we do need to address the increased visitor use there at Hite, that we’re going to be making some on-the-ground improvements there at Hite,” Plumb said.

Those changes include renovations to the store, gas station, campgrounds and RV sites, Plumb said. Glen Canyon is looking at spending approximately $800,000 on the renovations, which they hope to complete by the next visitor season in the spring.

“What we have seen at Hite and Glen Canyon in general, everywhere up from Muley Point to Escalante to our front country area around Page, Ariz., is just an increase in land-based activities and we’ve seen that as a trend in the Hite area as well,” said William Shott, superintendent of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. “What we’d like to see there as far as required services, what this short-term contract would require is updating the store. Instead of providing goods there that might be useful for a houseboat trip, start to provide goods there that would be more suited toward adventures whether those are rafters, hikers, cyclists, canyoneers, et cetera, in addition to running the gas station … that’s the only gas station within ... a 126-mile stretch between Blanding and Hanksville, with gas and an RV campground with hookups so we think it’s imperative that that service continue.”

The new concessionaire may provide other services as well like guided canyoneering or hiking.

Plumb said a required Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Assessment were completed several years ago, and the proposal for a new concessionaire is ready to move forward pending Department of Interior approval. Plumb emphasized that approval by Washington, D.C., is by no means guaranteed.

“If this goes forward … we’re looking at going out with a public announcement the first week in January,” Plumb said. “If this is approved, we’ll definitely do a really good job of getting the word out to all of the outfitters that this is an opportunity, if they want to bid for it … When the park service puts out any kind of request for proposal, it’s a very legal process so they definitely do everything by the book.”

After the concessionaire proposal was announced at several guide meetings, Plumb said, the response was positive. However, some guides expressed reservations.

“When first introduced, the new mission at Hite as land-based instead of a marina, I was curious over the lack of collaboration usually present during such an important change in direction,” said Brian Martinez of NAVTEC Expeditions. “I am concerned with the park’s current lack of funding to effectively manage a new land-based operation in such a sensitive area. The Orange Cliffs shares a boundary with the Maze District of Canyonlands. Due to its remoteness the area remains one of the wildest destinations in the United States. The significance and purpose of this area has largely been protected by a collaboration of external partners with shared values. I am not clear on Glen Canyon's off-road vehicle management plan in the Orange Cliffs, but I hope it doesn’t create conflict in such a fragile special place.”

Orange Cliffs is part of Glen Canyon but is managed by Canyonlands National Park.

Maggie Wilson, owner of Magpie Cycling, said that she is worried about the planned changes.

“I am deeply concerned about our local public lands administrators promoting changes in management plans and concession contracts that will put the resource at risk for exponential increase of irreversible damage,” Wilson said in an email to The Times-Independent. “It is not the responsibility of the National Park Service to stimulate local economies, or ensure the success of a concession operation.”

However, Pamela Rice, assistant superintendent for external affairs at Glen Canyon, said that it is hard to predict what effect changing the concessioner will have on Maze District visitation.

“As far as visitation in the Maze, I don’t think anyone can say what impact improved services at Hite will have on visitation to the Maze because you could actually make an argument that it would relieve some of the pressure in the Maze by providing ... different opportunities and essentially there’d be more space for visitors to spread out,” Rice said. “Currently, there is no ATV [use]; whether they’re street legal or not, ATVs are not allowed in the Orange Cliffs currently and anything that happens at Hite is not going to change that.”

At the same time, Glen Canyon is in the process of getting an off-road vehicle (ORV) management plan approved. Currently ATV usage is very limited in Glen Canyon. That could change slightly with a new ORV management plan. If the preferred alternative were approved, Glen Canyon would identify and designate “specific areas capable of supporting on-road ATV use and off-road use while prohibiting such uses in areas where resources and values may be at risk.”

According to the plan, 14 areas — Blue Notch, Bullfrog North and South, Copper Canyon, Crosby Canyon, Dirty Devil, Farley Canyon, Hite Boat Ramp, Neskahi, Nokai Canyon, Piute Canyon, Paiute Farms, Red Canyon, Stanton Creek and White Canyon — would remain open to conventional motor vehicles and street-legal ATVs, subject to water-level closures. Conventional motor vehicles, street-legal ATVs and OHVs, as defined by state law, would be allowed on unpaved roads including the Poison Spring Loop in the Orange Cliffs Management Unit. ATVs and OHVs would not be allowed on any other roads in the Orange Cliffs Management Unit.

A permit would be required for all off-road ATV use.

According to Plumb, the tentative ORV plan is waiting for review by the Department of Interior.

National Park Southeast Utah Group Superintendent Kate Cannon declined to comment on this story.

Read more: Moab Times-Independent - Hite Marina could become land based adventure hub Non lake visitor use may create opportunity for new concessionaire


Well-Known Member
Interesting... Two summers ago we helped out a broken down cyclist at the store because they didn’t have the right supplies and this year there was multiple motorcycle guys just passing through. So I do agree that a different angle of supplies probably need to be implemented at the store, bike parts, motorcycle generals etc.. And some upgraded pumps would be nice, but creating any kind of “hub” would be awful. I’m glad permits would still be required for any off road ATV crap.

It’s a primitive area, it needs to stay that way. Put that money towards keeping the bathrooms cleaner, cleaning station open, maybe a shower in there, running a dredge, paving a new ramp, a new dock, or just put in a totally new gas station along 95 more towards natural bridges or something.



Well-Known Member
looks like they have forgot about the lake at Hite, no mention of dock that is totaled at primitive ramp, improvements to primitive ramp etc.... All great but hey folks that a lake down there that attracts people!


Staff member
Thanks for sharing! I'm sure that the devil is in the details, but I see some things there that I could support. I know I'm dreaming, but I'd love to see Hite return to some measure of it's former glory.


Well-Known Member
With all the recent talk about Hite and launching conditions there being less than ideal, I did some digging on here and on the GCRA website. I found this thread from last Fall. The OP in this thread quoted Mary Plumb as saying an update would be released in January 2018. I looked for such a release and couldn't find one. I did find a release from the GCRA asking for public comments through April 27, 2018 on renewing concession contracts which may, or may not, include the renovation of Hite. I emailed Mary Plumb direct asking for an update on Hite specifically and also asked for an update through the public comment link. If I hear anything back on this, I will post that information here.

Dave I.

Well-Known Member
I think this would be great for the northern part of the lake, but is does raise the concerns about "the drainers" aspect and the additional ammo it may give them in their defense.

Ultimately, I long for the day to be able to launch my boat at Hite again, but I doubt that will come any day soon. :(

Would be great to see another concessionaire take the reins at Hite and make something out of it though. Could be a real boost for our small community and local businesses. I have taken rafters to the river and back and could see a real benefit to having services again at Hite.


Well-Known Member
If Hite was opened up again, I feel like it really would become a base for land adventurers. I can't see anyone doing much in the way of any marina. Maybe some launch improvements. It was so costly to cut loose and float the marina down the river that I think that will be a primary reason to severely limit the recreational boating aspects of Hite. Rafts maybe.

Dave I.

Well-Known Member
If Hite was opened up again, I feel like it really would become a base for land adventurers. I can't see anyone doing much in the way of any marina. Maybe some launch improvements. It was so costly to cut loose and float the marina down the river that I think that will be a primary reason to severely limit the recreational boating aspects of Hite. Rafts maybe.

The thought of another marina opening at Hite would be pretty foolish no matter how big of a concessionaire they may be. It was great when it was open but those are just fond memories now. Would be nice if someone did a little something to improve launching capabilities but I do agree that if anything was to bring Hite back to life, it would have to have a greater focus than just on the lake. Canyoneering, hiking, repelling, etc could be just a start of things that could be offered.


Well-Known Member
I got an email back from Ms. Plumb today that gave me a little more information on the status of Hite. The GCRA HQ in Washington is reviewing the announcement for the proposed change in services/additional services at Hite. This is called a Request for Expression of Interest (RFI). Once it has been approved, it will be made public so that companies (like Aramark) can bid on it. Do NOT hold your breath waiting on this as it will take month's - possibly a year or more - for this process to be completed. In the meantime, Aramark is conducting facility repairs and rehab as required under their current contract and the rehab & repairs are expected to be completed sometime in June. No further details about the rehab/repairs were provided. I will ask Ms. Plumb to maybe tell me the who, what, where, when, & how of this rehab/repair work. Stay tuned.


Well-Known Member
I have been going to Powell out of Bullfrog for 20 years now. Last April 2017 I was at Offshore working on the houseboat and decided to make a side trip to Hite, I had never been there before. Stopped at the Hite Overlook and got this panoramic and Hite closeup. The Pano is kind of screwy looking, the river doesn't bend quite this much here but it gives some people that might be reading this thread some perspective. I know I had a hard time picturing it before I went there. I can't remember what the water level was then, maybe 3590? You can see the start of the lake WAY to the right. Of course there is the ramp, high and dry. Shortly after this photo was taken the lake came up 35' or so. That overlook is breathtaking!

I drove down to the old Marina and it was like a ghost town. It would be nice if they were able to get some more activity in there, keep the place up. Who knows, maybe the lake will come back up someday and it will be nice to have the improvements then?




Well-Known Member
There has been a massive uptick in outdoor adventure over the last 10 years and Hite would certainly provide a nice dry basecamp for the land based group. They could even open the north primitive site across the river by dirty devil for overflow.

For me, Farley is still a bit wild and earned. Improve that road much more and it will be lined with cruise America rentals.

It is possible back in the original concessionaire contract years that fuel was required at the north end of the lake, and at that time that would have been be Hite. With Hite marina now gone, perhaps an update to the agreement is needed. A remote floating station like DR could be explored at Hope or Farley for boating convenience. Fuel at Farley would drastically increase traffic, Good Hope would look like Padre. Toss in a single tour boat and your heaven is hell.

Regarding the fear of the drainers, come on people, think, just think.


Well-Known Member
Opening a new floating marina up north would be a massive project. Have you ever thought about what it takes to run Dangling Rope. Electricity, Gas, Supplies, Staffing, Etc. And that's with the "large" town of Page nearby. It would be a logistical nightmare to add a floating marina up north based out of either Hite or Bullfrog/Halls.

Dave I.

Well-Known Member
Opening a new floating marina up north would be a massive project. Have you ever thought about what it takes to run Dangling Rope. Electricity, Gas, Supplies, Staffing, Etc. And that's with the "large" town of Page nearby. It would be a logistical nightmare to add a floating marina up north based out of either Hite or Bullfrog/Halls.

They did already have a fully operational marina (houseboat slips, fuel dock, on-water store, etc) up at Hite many years ago. The very basic essentials are all ready there such as the generators, electrical systems, and such. But, that doesn't mean the re-opening of a marina could even be feasible due to the low water levels which seems to get drained 20 feet if the water even gets close to the Hite boat ramp. When I first started going to Powell, Hite was where we always went and launched. Ahhh, the good ole days.

The infrastructure is already in place at Hite and opening a "land based" project could be the key to rejuvenating the very north end of the lake. Maybe once something got going again and turned profitable, someone would get ambitious and make launching available to tap into the lake resources also. Aramark has given up at Hite but they do still keep the store open during peak season.

And it is no lie about the uptick in outdoor adventure activities. All the advertising Utah has done for the parks even in the last 2 years is really working. That is awesome for small business at the northern end of the lake due to an extended tourist season.

I will be following up on this and share any info I can find. Awesome pictures Sparkin!
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