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Lake Powell Beaches and Hiking Guide Project - looking for help...

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Love it! I have a blog with elevation level and dates for every year we go to Powell. Most years I have pics of our houseboat on the beach and the location is noted. Dooley's at Lake Powell
Brent - Great website--it's like watching your family grow up on to different houseboats! I actually think I came across your website before when I was trolling for Lake Powell info a couple of years ago... very cool, thanks for sharing those memories and photos...
 
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hellasnow

Member
not sure if there would be any interest to this, but for our group i mark our camp spots every year and have a water level added to each year as well. on the backside i put fun pics from the year before them laminate them for each couple or people on the trip. i'm going to have to start changing my markers as it is getting a bit filled in.

it's a nice piece to have for everyone to see where we have been and for the ones with boats to always have a nice map with them while exploring.

plus i still mean to post up some pics from this years trip for you or email you a link.
Lake Powell Map front (camp locations)_2020_small.jpg
this map has been downsized for upload purposes.
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Hey all--

Thanks to all of you so far who have sent me messages offering some very interesting information or photos that would be useful in this project. As it is, the project is already coming along pretty well--the main question is when to stop! I've got a lot of detail in there so far--maybe too much. But ideally, I'd have detailed descriptions of each canyon, the navigability, hiking potential, and beach potential at different lake levels, plus photos and aerials for everything. And so far, I've got almost the entire lake covered pretty well. It's nearly 500 pages so far (!!), with literally hundreds of photos illustrating beach sites, landing sites for further exploring on foot, and highlights of hikes up the canyons.

Right now, I'm still looking to fill in a few blanks, mostly photos of certain canyons that I just don't have that much coverage of for one reason or another. If anyone wants to help out, send me a private message with any photos you might be willing to share (and get credit for). That would be awesome. If not, no sweat--totally get it.

In general, I have pretty good coverage on the canyons from West Canyon up to Halls Crossing, including all of the Escalante, plus a lot of the others too, just not quite to the same extent. Here's the list of canyons I'm still a little thin on (from south to north), and could use help with:

Antelope Canyon
Navajo Canyon
Warm Creek Bay
Gunsight Bay
Face Canyon
Last Chance Bay
Friendship Cove
Rock Creek Bay
Balanced Rock Canyon
Cathedral Canyon
Hidden Passage Canyon
All canyons in the San Juan
Ribbon Canyon
Cow Canyon
Fence Canyon
Long Canyon
Lake Canyon
Lost Eden Canyon
Halls Creek Bay
Bullfrog Bay
Moqui Canyon
Hansen Canyon
Crystal Springs Canyon
Knowles Canyon
Good Hope Bay
Ticaboo Canyon
Red Canyon
Blue Notch Canyon
Fourmile Canyon
Twomile Canyon
Trachyte Canyon
Farley Canyon

I appreciate everyone's help in advance, and thanks again for the help some of you have already provided! This should turn out pretty good...

John
 

Hermine Tippel

Well-Known Member
I might have mentioned in passing on some other thread that I’ve been working on a pretty ambitious Lake Powell project having to do with beaches and hiking. Well, I just want to bring anyone who is interested up to speed, and just what it is I'm up to.

In a nutshell, what I’m doing is creating a comprehensive guide that describes all the best houseboat camping sites on the lake—and here’s the hard part—at multiple lake levels. The other part of the project is to describe which canyons have the best (or any) hiking potential, but more importantly, how accessible are the ends of the canyons at different lake levels, and to what kind of boats.

There are a lot of great guides out there, particularly Michael Kelsey’s book. That is probably the premier source of hiking information for the lake. I’m not trying to do the same thing. What Kelsey’s book does not really do is describe how difficult boating access might be to reach these hikes, and at what lake levels such hikes might be best. For example, Fiftymile Canyon has a very narrow window through which it’s possible to enjoy a great hike past the end of the lake. If the water is too low (say, below 3605), all boats will be blocked by a giant sandbar about 0.8 miles from the Escalante. But if it’s too high (say, 3670 or more), then even small boats may get pinched out between canyon walls before reaching the end. But in the sweet spot between 3610-3630, you’ve got access to one of the coolest grotto semi-slot canyons on the lake.

That’s the kind of information I’m trying to compile.

Similarly, some epic campsites become considerably less epic at lower (or higher) lake levels. For example, a great cave-grotto houseboat campsite in Davis Gulch goes high and dry below 3603; above 3635, that same site disappears altogether underwater. Some great beach sites in Llewelyn Gulch are similarly challenged at lower levels. But in some cases, low water reveals some real gems. When finished, I’ll include maps and photos to illustrate key findings. I’ll also describe point-to-point boating distances between the different canyons (accounting for shortcuts at higher water levels) and other key locations on the lake, plus the average time it takes to travel. This would help calculate things like typical gas consumption. And of course, I’d want to share my own past observations and notes taken at the time I visited any of these places, which relate to all sorts of other issues about being on the lake, including food, bugs, weather, anchoring issues, you name it.

I’ve been working on this project for a couple of years already. It’s a daunting task. My main sources are my own extensive notes, journals and photos from the past 30 years, augmented by GoogleEarth and a few other online sources. So far, I’ve put together a very rough and incomplete version that is already over 300 pages. I say incomplete, because there are several parts of the lake I just haven’t spent that much time in, and so my firsthand knowledge isn’t that great. These would include Last Chance, Navajo Canyon, Rock Creek, and much of the San Juan arm.

So what I’m looking for, if anyone wants to help, are descriptions of past campsites, including specific locations and dates (so I can correlate to a lake level), plus any photos you’d be willing to share—especially about places in the San Juan, Last Chance, or Rock Creek—but really anywhere. Similarly, any experiences hiking, with a specific eye to the difficulty of boating access to the ends of canyons or small coves that might provide access. And finally, any recent experiences in the everchanging mudflats/log soup at the northern end of the lake, and how that has affected canyon access.

When I’m finished, I’ll release it somehow, but at this point I’m still undecided about the best way to get the information out. As a book? Online? Both? In small pieces? As one large volume?

All I know is this: for anyone willing to provide any helpful information or photos, I’ll give full credit, and I’d be happy to share what I come up with once it’s finished. Not sure exactly how soon that will be, but I won’t forget when the time comes. You all are spectacularly knowledgeable, a great resource from whom I’ve already learned a ton in the few years I’ve been following this site. Thank you!!

If you’re reluctant to share special sites or secret places, I totally get that. Don’t send me anything. I’m not sure I want to share mine either, but on the whole, I think this could be a unique resource if presented the right way. But if you do want to share, you can either post to this thread, or if you want it to be more confidential, just send me a private message.

Thanks again!

John Rickenbach
I would very much like to participate in your project. I have information about, beaches, hikes etc. spanning from 1992 to 2020, just completed my 66 stay at Lake Powell. I would like to mail/send you a sample of what I can provide. Where do I send it to, address, e-mail? My e-mail address is: sieglinde.tippel@gmail.com
 

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JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
I would very much like to participate in your project. I have information about, beaches, hikes etc. spanning from 1992 to 2020, just completed my 66 stay at Lake Powell. I would like to mail/send you a sample of what I can provide. Where do I send it to, address, e-mail? My e-mail address is: sieglinde.tippel@gmail.com
Thanks, that's awesome! Sounds like you're a treasure trove of great info, and your help is very much appreciated... Feel free to contact me at the email address that Peto pulled up...

Thanks again! - John
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
All right, for those who are interested in knowing a bit more about what I'm doing, and what the guide will cover (and what it won't), here's a teaser that might act as an introduction... still quite a rough draft, but coming along for sure... I'll take any editorial and content suggestions at this point, because it's a work in progress... thanks for reading!

***********************

The Incomplete Guide to Lake Powell

There are many great guidebooks for Lake Powell, as there should be. The place is just too big, too diverse, too dynamic with its constantly changing lake surface levels, to do it justice in one guidebook. And there are too many things to do, and too many ways to experience your time on the lake. And because you can’t put everything in one place, nor should you try, the title The Incomplete Guide to Lake Powell seemed like the most honest approach.

What This Guide Is Not

If you’re looking for a fishing guide, this isn’t it. There are many expert fishing resources for Lake Powell, none more esteemed than Wayne Gustaveson, who runs an outstanding website (wayneswords.net) dedicated to that near religious practice. In this guidebook, you won’t find much information about lures, bait, depthfinders, the changing seasonal fisheries, best fishing boats, the hidden spots to find the elusive big one. But Wayne and many others on that website will fix you up with that. Besides, I couldn’t help you if I wanted to: I don’t fish.

Similarly, you won’t find a lot of detailed information about how to operate a houseboat, safety regulations on the lake, or a discussion of boat choices depending on the kind of trip you might plan. Again, there are excellent resources on all those topics, both online and in print, and I might start with Alan Silverstein who created silgro.com, an excellent detailed website that among many of its virtues, covers how to safely operate a houseboat. Look no further than this link to become an expert: Houseboating 101 (at Lake Powell, on the Wildwind).

And if you’re looking for detailed technical information about the hikes in the 96+/- side canyons of the lake, I’m not even going to try to improve on what has been written by Michael Kelsey in his Boaters Guide to Lake Powell, now in its 6th edition. With incredible detail and unbelievable coverage, if you’re looking for an adventure far from civilization in one of those side canyons, possibly beyond human capability, I’d suggest going straight to that book. My only warning about that book is that when he says something will take you an hour, assume it will take you two.

If It’s Not Any of That, Then What Good is This Guide?

I’ve been answering questions related to Lake Powell as a “Destination Expert” on TripAdvisor for many years, and it’s remarkable how consistent the questions are. They usually come in one of a few broad open-ended categories, sounding like desperate pleas for help. What should I do when I’m on the lake? That sounds something like what a bored 8-year old asks his poor mother. Or even better: Can you plan my trip for me? These are the kind of Hail Mary questions that are totally understandable, but would require some sort of crystal ball or divining rod to figure out what it is that “floats their boat”, so to speak. Do they want to focus on sightseeing? Do they mind driving their boat a long way? Do they want to mostly see iconic features of the lake? Explore ruins and historical features? Are they hardcore hikers? Or do they just want to relax in the sun with a beer in a secluded spot? Those kind of open-ended questions always elicit more questions than answers.

But then there are a few questions you see less often, but still consistently and repeatedly, and they are very good ones. Ones that I would love to be able to answer definitively on the fly, but just can’t. Where are the best beaches to anchor my boat? Which are the best canyons to explore in a boat? Where are the best hikes that aren’t too hard? Will I have the time (or ability) to do these things? Really great questions, but so frustrating to answer, because those answers almost always depend on what the lake looks like on the day those people plan to go. And by that I mean, what is the surface elevation of the lake? That’s everything.

Answering those questions is what’s at the heart of this guidebook.

This is a guide mostly aimed at the casual explorer, especially those new to Lake Powell, but some of the information is also good for those much more familiar with the lake already, especially with respect to specific locations and logistics planning, notably time and distance when fuel management is an issue. It assumes you know how to operate a boat, or are at least not scared to try that on your own, don’t need to know how to cast a line, but mostly just want to make the most of your few days in paradise with a healthy sense of adventure. It also assumes you have enough time and money to make your trip worth it, because whatever else a trip on Lake Powell is, it is not cheap, between the transportation to get there from wherever you live, the gas in your boat, and the cost of either owning or renting that boat. From time to time throughout the guide, I’ll touch on these topics, but they are not a focus of the wisdom contained in these pages.

Same goes for food preparation. This is not a cookbook, nor a food planning exercise. No question, it is certainly an art to plan for meals on Lake Powell, because you carry everything you have with you, like a supersized backpacking trip. If you have a houseboat, you’ll have a kitchen too, which opens up some options, but at the end of the day, you’ll have to do a lot of prep work to guess right, without buying too much or too little. In my experience, you always end up buying too much, and that’s particularly true for the little things, like condiments, sauces, and things that no one can really agree on. I can say definitively, however, that one jar of pickles is exactly one too many. Again, I will touch on the topic from time to time, but it is not a focus of this guide.

It is also not a psychology text, although I’d recommend reading one before taking a trip to an isolated desert lake with 9 people for a week. You will learn more than you ever thought you knew about those people, even the ones in your own family. You may never want to travel with them again, or on the other hand, you may develop unexpected bonds for life. It is hard to predict how people will handle their days on the lake, away from phones and civilization in general, forced to cooperate and see the best and worst of their friends. My guide does not purport to hold the keys to understanding how to compose your crew, but there is a lot of personal anecdotal information woven throughout that might help you draw your own lines, and to know when to cross them or stay behind, lest someone get hurt.

In one sense, there’s nothing spectacularly new in this guide. The information about beaches, landing spots, hiking opportunities, and making the most of your time is simply the product of experience and research anyone can do. But what is unique is that it is compiled into one place, and how it’s put together.

The guide is organized by geography. The lake is broken into five sections, generally from south to north, because that’s the way most people experience the lake. Most will start near Page, Arizona, from one of the two marinas—Wahweap or Antelope Point—that are near Page. And that’s because Page is really the only real supply center of any size near the lake, a place with motels, restaurants, and large grocery stores. Sure, you can start elsewhere: rent a boat out of Bullfrog 100 miles up the lake, or launch your own from the same spot; approach from Halls Crossing across from Bullfrog; bring you own boat down a rickety dirt road to remote places like Blue Notch, Red, White, or Farley canyons; or trudge across the mudflats at Hite way up at the northern end. But the logistical or planning challenges of those approaches are much greater than starting from Page, and because you have to pick an organizational approach, it’s best to choose the one that makes the most sense to most people. But it doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

Many guides to Lake Powell are organized the way a river runner would approach it—from upstream to downstream. That’s Kelsey’s approach, for example. But there’s no longer an obvious river there anymore (which is another controversial topic not a focus of the book, but touched on throughout), so consequently most river runners don’t spend a lot of time there, and are often sad when they do. But lake lovers do spend time there, and their boats can go in any direction equally well. The buoy system on Lake Powell, by the way, is organized from south to north, essentially starting at Glen Canyon Dam, and working its way upstream. These are critical mile markers for orientation, and since they start on “1”, near the dam, and end up at over “130” near Hite, that seems like a logical way to progress. Remember, the green ones are odd-numbered and on the left as you go upstream, and the red ones are even-numbered and on the right. There’s some nautical rule probably in a sea shanty about “red-right-returning”, but that never made any sense to me because either red or green could just as easily be on the right as you return to some place that no one ever thought about. Better just to remember using some linguistic device that makes sense, or use some modern electronics so you don’t have to think. I suppose it’s true that you will go to the right of the red buoys as you are returning from a long day out on your way back to Wahweap. There it makes some sense. Just don’t confuse me too much.

What’s Actually in the Guide?

These are the five sections in the guide, organized as chapters:

1. Wahweap Bay to Cornerstone Canyon;
2. Dangling Rope to the end of the San Juan River arm;
3. Mouth of the San Juan to the end of the Escalante River arm;
4. Mouth of the Escalante to Halls Crossing; and
5. Bullfrog to Hite and beyond


I gave a lot of thought to that organization, because at first glance, they do not cover an equal distance of the lake. Arguably, the San Juan River arm could (and perhaps should) stand on its own. The pitch from the mouth of the San Juan to the end of the Escalante might only cover 20 miles, while the leg from Wahweap to Cornerstone Canyon is closer to 40. But that stretch from the mouth of the San Juan to the end of the Escalante is one of the most scenic portions of the lake, with numerous very interesting side canyons that I could write about for days. Similarly, the stretch between Dangling Rope and the mouth of the San Juan is nearly as good. Whatever the virtues of the San Juan are to the fisherman (solitude, lots of fish, isolation, lots of fish), it is from an aesthetic or a hiker’s perspective the least interesting part of the lake. The canyons are wider and shorter for boating, there are fewer of them, and the lake is more open and less incised. And while the San Juan has plenty of campsites, they are generally less spectacular and unique than elsewhere on the lake, although it must be said that “less spectacular” at Lake Powell qualifies as “off the charts” almost anywhere else in the world.

Each section is generally organized as follows:
  • Canyon Description. Each canyon is described, from south to north, including its proximity to other nearby pplaces and marker buoys;
  • Map. A map (with satellite imagery) showing the key features of the canyon, including nearby marker buoys, possible beach sites and landmarks;
  • Distance and Time Chart. A chart showing the distance from the mouth of that canyon to many other important places on the lake (such as the marinas, the mouth of the San Juan or Escalante, or Rainbow Bridge), accounting for whether or not certain lake features are in play that may provide shortcuts (notably the Castle Rock Cut); and the time it would take to cover that distance either in a houseboat or a powerboat;
  • Navigable Length. The navigable length of that canyon at various lake levels (for some canyons, there is a huge difference);
  • Beaches. A discussion of available beaches at different lake levels;
  • Hiking Potential. A discussion of the hiking potential of the canyon at different lake levels, and based on physical constraints of the canyon itself (i.e, does it get too narrow to land a boat at the end? Will a kayak make it?), with a description of key hikes;
  • Photos. This might be the most important part. This section includes photos of beaches and hikes, including landing spots, with dates and lake levels identified for all photos. Most of the beaches are places where I’ve parked a houseboat, and these spots are shown on the map.
  • Notes from Past Experience. And now here’s the unique feature of this guidebook. These are excerpts from various journals I’ve written while on the lake, back to 1992. In each case, the date and lake level are included, in order to provide some sort of context. These are in narrative form, and might comment on detailed features of the canyon, or anecdotes that occurred while in the canyon, or perhaps detailed descriptions of hikes or other incidents that might have occurred in that canyon. Some of these relate to the photos included for the canyon, or certain hikes might be shown on some of the map imagery.
At the end of the day, all that information may be overkill, because many people will just want to cut straight to the photos and maps, which is a perfectly good use of this guide. But if you like to obsess on details, they are there if you want them…
 

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Dougie

Well-Known Member
Oh boy. A "sea shanty".

JFR, I think half the fun of this guide will be your writing ability. A good script is the foundation for a good movie. That's the first thing an actor reads when deciding whether or not to take the part. Even a great actor cannot make a blockbuster if the script is no good.

In light of today's trend towards long book titles (almost always including a sub-title) your modest header as the "incomplete" guide might also add a more superlative clause "An Armchair Traveler's Guide to the Most Scenic Place on Earth". Because for many of us, this is exactly what it will be. A sugar high for sure.

When can we pre-order?
 

RatherBeFishing1

Well-Known Member
Hey all--

Thanks to all of you so far who have sent me messages offering some very interesting information or photos that would be useful in this project. As it is, the project is already coming along pretty well--the main question is when to stop! I've got a lot of detail in there so far--maybe too much. But ideally, I'd have detailed descriptions of each canyon, the navigability, hiking potential, and beach potential at different lake levels, plus photos and aerials for everything. And so far, I've got almost the entire lake covered pretty well. It's nearly 500 pages so far (!!), with literally hundreds of photos illustrating beach sites, landing sites for further exploring on foot, and highlights of hikes up the canyons.

Right now, I'm still looking to fill in a few blanks, mostly photos of certain canyons that I just don't have that much coverage of for one reason or another. If anyone wants to help out, send me a private message with any photos you might be willing to share (and get credit for). That would be awesome. If not, no sweat--totally get it.

In general, I have pretty good coverage on the canyons from West Canyon up to Halls Crossing, including all of the Escalante, plus a lot of the others too, just not quite to the same extent. Here's the list of canyons I'm still a little thin on (from south to north), and could use help with:

Antelope Canyon
Navajo Canyon
Warm Creek Bay
Gunsight Bay
Face Canyon
Last Chance Bay
Friendship Cove
Rock Creek Bay
Balanced Rock Canyon
Cathedral Canyon
Hidden Passage Canyon
All canyons in the San Juan
Ribbon Canyon
Cow Canyon
Fence Canyon
Long Canyon
Lake Canyon
Lost Eden Canyon
Halls Creek Bay
Bullfrog Bay
Moqui Canyon
Hansen Canyon
Crystal Springs Canyon
Knowles Canyon
Good Hope Bay
Ticaboo Canyon
Red Canyon
Blue Notch Canyon
Fourmile Canyon
Twomile Canyon
Trachyte Canyon
Farley Canyon

I appreciate everyone's help in advance, and thanks again for the help some of you have already provided! This should turn out pretty good...

John
Great idea and good luck. Looks like you’ve forgotten “Forgotten” Canyon between Knowles and Good Hope Bay where there is an easy to moderate hike to the Defiance House Anasazi ruins.
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Great idea and good luck. Looks like you’ve forgotten “Forgotten” Canyon between Knowles and Good Hope Bay where there is an easy to moderate hike to the Defiance House Anasazi ruins.
I appreciate the reminder of course, but I won't forget Forgotten Canyon, I promise. That was just a list of canyons I could use more photos of, in case you've got them... I think I've got Forgotten covered...
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Oh boy. A "sea shanty".

JFR, I think half the fun of this guide will be your writing ability. A good script is the foundation for a good movie. That's the first thing an actor reads when deciding whether or not to take the part. Even a great actor cannot make a blockbuster if the script is no good.

In light of today's trend towards long book titles (almost always including a sub-title) your modest header as the "incomplete" guide might also add a more superlative clause "An Armchair Traveler's Guide to the Most Scenic Place on Earth". Because for many of us, this is exactly what it will be. A sugar high for sure.

When can we pre-order?
Pre-order? Well, let's not get ahead of myself here. Always better to underpromise and overdeliver, especially for pizza or anything else edible. But I really appreciate the enthusiasm, which is a great motivator to finish! Right now, I'd say I'm close to 80% there... I'll be spending some time on this between now and the end of the year, between actual work, since I'm nowhere close to retired... I might need to make a trip or two to the lake to cover the bald spots in the narrative, especially with regard to the San Juan...

And thanks for liking the writing style. It's just what happens to come out of the pen. Or the keyboard.
 

John P Funk

Well-Known Member
The only thing I might suggest is a bit of a disclaimer in the foreword warning about changes in scenery/beaches as lake levels change over the years. Some newcomers will have no idea about the variability of lake level over time.
 

ScottF

Well-Known Member
JFR, you say "at this point I’m still undecided about the best way to get the information out. As a book? Online? Both?"

You will have a huge amount of information and need to make sure your user can quickly access what they need without reading all 300 pages. The user's question will be something like "Where can I park at 3610', south of Padre Bay, preferably with phone service, afternoon shade and hikes nearby?" You want to present the possibilities ranked by fit.

I'd suggest you put the various hikes and campsites in a database accessed online. This way your user will be able to input:
1. The current lake level
2. Section of the lake they'll be visiting
3. Whether they're looking for a campsite or a hike
4. If hike then the level of difficulty and length
5. If campsite then how they prioritize solitude, phone service, afternoon shade, fishing, wakeboarding/surfing, hiking, etc.

Online you'll be able to add material and make corrections easily. Once it's online I'll bet you'll get a lot of user input. Also, you'll be able to monetize your creation, if this is a factor for you, via advertising or use fees.

I'd guess your development cost would be under $10k and I'd be happy to contribute.
 
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JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Scott- All great thoughts and ideas, much appreciated. Yep, those are key considerations, the most important of which is overall organization and how to compartmentalize information. You gotta be able to find it to use it.

I’d imagine whatever I do I will always be updating it, and the ease of doing that is important too.

But for the moment, it’s a lot of fun just putting things together in one place. I’m actually learning new things just by doing that. Content and purpose always dictate form, and for now both factors are still evolving...

I also appreciate that you’re willing to help in some fashion. Thanks! I’d be happy to chat about that via private message...

As for actual developmental cost, it’s impossible to put a value on time spent gathering experience, but the rewards in the gathering are greater than the cost...
 
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