First Time to Powell - Must See's? Updated: Trip Complete

Desert Dory

Member
Hello All,
Powell is a place I have wanted to visit for decades but, now that I finally have the chance, I'm finding that it's quite overwhelming to plan what to see. So, I thought I'd ask for a little help.

Me and a buddy are planning a sight seeing to a trip to Powell around 16 or 18 May and we'll be there for 5 nights, most likely getting out just before Memorial Day weekend. I am also aware the ramps are finally opening on the 15th and it will most likely be a zoo for a few days. Our current plan is to launch at Wahweep (or Antelope maybe?Valet service? Suggestions?) and head up the lake to at least the San Juan on day 1, then start working our way back.

We'll be in my 22' C-Dory so we'll be self contained, sleeping/staying on the boat. We have about a 200 mile range without needing to refuel but will most likely stop at Dangling Rope sometime during the trip just to top off.

So, my question to you is, what are the must see's on the lake? Rainbow bridge and Reflection Canyon are on the list but what else is there that we wouldn't want to miss given our limited amount of time? Certain canyons that are more spectacular than others. We don't have to see it all but would like to hit some of the highlights as we meander back towards Arizona. We'll do a little fishing here and there but that's not our primary focus. Won't be skiing or anything like that, just cruising. Maybe some nice places to anchor or beach for the night?

Soooooo, if you happen to have a favorite place, and wouldn't mind sharing, please post it up. Any and all Do/Don't suggestions are welcome too.

Thank you in advance, Desert Dory
 

Trix

Well-Known Member
Don't miss Forbidding Canyon. Most folks turn left at the sign directing you to Rainbow Bridge, as you must do. But don't miss bearing right to Forbidding. I have been boating LP for 49 years. The back of Forbidding with the view up to Navajo Mountain is unsurpassed.
 

dlandon

Well-Known Member
Wow, that’s a tough question to answer. My first response would be the whole lake! Make your way north from Wahweap and visit as many canyons as possible. Reflection Canyon is one of my favorites, but that’s just me. I’ll be there the 15th if you want to stop by our slip and I can show you a lot of spots.
 

sparkin5280

Well-Known Member
You are trying to do too much on your first trip. I do HB trips out of Bullfrog so it's a bit different than what you're doing but I know after 20 years of going there its not about how much you can see in 5 days as it is getting set up somewhere and enjoying where you are, who you are with and what you accomplished getting there. Sure use your well equipped boat to explore a bunch but don't think you'll see close to everything thats good on your first, or 15th trip. That said, SJ and Reflection are amazing! Stick with that and you'll be good for this trip.
 

John P Funk

Well-Known Member
I agree with sparkin, for a first trip, you should just enjoy the trip. Things probably won't go the way you plan anyway(they seldom do). So don't build up unrealistic expectations of seeing everything. The whole place is spectacular, and even if you don't get to all you want to do it will be wonderful. I'm not saying don't make plans, just don't hang everything on seeing "everything", it just can't be done.
 

fisheye

Active Member
One of the most memorable things when thinking back on our first trip to the lake are reactions of the family to just being there! It doesn't matter which end of the lake you are on, the vistas will amaze and surprise you. The memories will be etched forever..
 

Dave I.

Well-Known Member
The thing I find ironic about this question is the simple fact that there are so many places to see on the lake that you could never fit it into a 5 night trip. Every time we go to the lake, we have a "wish list" of things we would like to go see and do. Sadly, we hardly ever make it there because of 2 things.... Either the fishing is doing really well OR we see something else we want to go explore.

Like Sparkin and John say, go to the lake and just enjoy the trip. My opinion is, it doesn't sound like much fun just flying full speed around the lake just to catch the "main attractions" when there are so many other hidden memories to visit. But rather, we see a canyon and wonder what is up that one. We've gotten to the point where the only thing we plan on our lake trips is when we are getting there and when we are leaving and just go with the tide while we are there. Sometimes the time we are leaving gets changed but that's OK.

Most important thing is have fun and be safe. Welcome to Lake Powell!
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
Driftwood canyon mm 48 north side. Hard to see the entrance but its there.,,,,,,,,,,,, Eye arch just past Oak Canyon left side heading up lake. You've got to be close to the wall to see it, way up there. Follow advice and slow down a tad bit. Listen for wind reports
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
Make sure you have a good map (we prefer the Stan Jones map, but I think you have to order it online these days). I'd recommend a marine radio. NEVER pass up a chance for fuel; which means possibly stopping at DR on the way up and down lake, but that also means an ice cream cone or root beer float. Then just explore. The shoreline changes with the water, and part of the fun your first visit and your one hundred and first visit is exploring on your own.

It's easier to tell you what to avoid. The tour boat wakes should be avoided at all costs - get as FAR away from them in the channel as you can if you see them coming and watch from behind. They don't always appear that big from the surface, but they are MEAN rollers. Personally I try to avoid the tour boats, which means if you want to hit Antelope Canyon, Navajo Canyon or Rainbow bridge, try to do so early in the morning before the tour boats get moving. These canyons are popular and tend to have LOTS of boat traffic.

If it's the canyons you want to see; towering walls and winding turns, the San Juan may underwhelm you. We love it for fishing and isolation, but not a lot of the long, winding, and sometimes narrow canyons.
 

Desert Dory

Member
WOW! Thanks for all the great input.

Having read all that, I probably should have asked the question differently. More like, "if you could only visit one place on the lake, what would that be?", or something like that anyway.

As I mentioned in the OP, "We don't have to see it all but would like to hit some of the highlights". We have no intention of buzzing all over the place trying to see everything. We'll buzz up to the San Juan area then "SLOWLY" start working our way back down the lake.

No stress, no hurry, just enjoy our time on the water and the majesty of the surroundings.



Don't miss Forbidding Canyon. Most folks turn left at the sign directing you to Rainbow Bridge, as you must do. But don't miss bearing right to Forbidding. I have been boating LP for 49 years. The back of Forbidding with the view up to Navajo Mountain is unsurpassed.
We'll be right there so we'll check this out. Thanks


I’ll be there the 15th if you want to stop by our slip and I can show you a lot of spots.
Thanks for the offer dlandon, we may just stop by and say Hi. PM me your radio call sign and I'll hail you when we're in the neighborhood.


Most important thing is have fun and be safe. Welcome to Lake Powell!
EXACTLY! Thanks Dave.


Driftwood canyon mm 48 north side. Hard to see the entrance but its there.,,,,,,,,,,,, Eye arch just past Oak Canyon left side heading up lake. You've got to be close to the wall to see it, way up there. Follow advice and slow down a tad bit. Listen for wind reports
Nice tip on the arch! We'll keep an "eye"out for it. VHF on the boat and we'll be monitoring the WX channel. Thanks.


Make sure you have a good map (we prefer the Stan Jones map, but I think you have to order it online these days). I'd recommend a marine radio. NEVER pass up a chance for fuel; which means possibly stopping at DR on the way up and down lake, but that also means an ice cream cone or root beer float. Then just explore. The shoreline changes with the water, and part of the fun your first visit and your one hundred and first visit is exploring on your own.

It's easier to tell you what to avoid. The tour boat wakes should be avoided at all costs - get as FAR away from them in the channel as you can if you see them coming and watch from behind. They don't always appear that big from the surface, but they are MEAN rollers. Personally I try to avoid the tour boats, which means if you want to hit Antelope Canyon, Navajo Canyon or Rainbow bridge, try to do so early in the morning before the tour boats get moving. These canyons are popular and tend to have LOTS of boat traffic.

If it's the canyons you want to see; towering walls and winding turns, the San Juan may underwhelm you. We love it for fishing and isolation, but not a lot of the long, winding, and sometimes narrow canyons.
GREAT tips!! Thank you Bride.
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
I agree with all the above, and especially good advice from PowellBride about tour boats, wakes, and fuel. I would not think in terms of "must see canyons", but more like "must enjoy the moment wherever you are". I personally don't fish, which is practically blasphemy on this website, but I do spend a lot of time in the side canyons on foot or exploring in small boats. And for me, the best concentration of really great canyons that can almost be picked at random include those between Dangling Rope and the mouth of the San Juan River, with the other big concentration being any of the side canyons of the Escalante. But there are lots and lots of other great ones all over the lake, and most of the fun is just picking one and discovering it for yourself. Your favorites will end up different than mine just for that reason, and that's a good thing...
 

Desert Dory

Member
I agree with all the above, and especially good advice from PowellBride about tour boats, wakes, and fuel. I would not think in terms of "must see canyons", but more like "must enjoy the moment wherever you are". I personally don't fish, which is practically blasphemy on this website, but I do spend a lot of time in the side canyons on foot or exploring in small boats. And for me, the best concentration of really great canyons that can almost be picked at random include those between Dangling Rope and the mouth of the San Juan River, with the other big concentration being any of the side canyons of the Escalante. But there are lots and lots of other great ones all over the lake, and most of the fun is just picking one and discovering it for yourself. Your favorites will end up different than mine just for that reason, and that's a good thing...
Perfect!! We'll have a 2 man kayak with us to go poking around. Thank you.
 

jimmybame

Well-Known Member
Make sure you anchor good nothing worse than dealing with wind in the middle of the night! Always in a canyon never exposed to main channel.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
I agree with all the above, and especially good advice from PowellBride about tour boats, wakes, and fuel. I would not think in terms of "must see canyons", but more like "must enjoy the moment wherever you are". I personally don't fish, which is practically blasphemy on this website, but I do spend a lot of time in the side canyons on foot or exploring in small boats. And for me, the best concentration of really great canyons that can almost be picked at random include those between Dangling Rope and the mouth of the San Juan River, with the other big concentration being any of the side canyons of the Escalante. But there are lots and lots of other great ones all over the lake, and most of the fun is just picking one and discovering it for yourself. Your favorites will end up different than mine just for that reason, and that's a good thing...
You know that not being a fisherman is pure blasphemy, not practically blasphemy and if we didn't need you so bad you would be keelhauled. So keep those numbers coming.
 

Cookie

Well-Known Member
There are absoletly no wrong answer,s every canyon is worth seeing. In the over 20 times I have visited the lake, I have never been disappointed at any water level or in any part of the lake. Have fun, should be a blast.
 
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JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
You know that not being a fisherman is pure blasphemy, not practically blasphemy and if we didn't need you so bad you would be keelhauled. So keep those numbers coming.
Here's the story. My family was visiting friends in Illinois one summer when I was about 12, and their dad took me and my brother to the lake to go fishing. Hot humid day, no shade. By the end of the day, my brother caught a couple of fish. I caught nothing but sunburn. Today, he's an avid fisherman. And me? I'm doing a public service by leaving all those fish to the rest of you... :)

Okay, I better keep those numbers coming....
 
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