Work as a reservations agent requires either being very knowledgeable about specifics of a location, or very good at pretending. On a daily basis I answer questions and talk with guests who think I’m anywhere but where I actually am. It’s a challenge to provide information about a place you’ve never physically been to. A wiki full of information just can’t beat firsthand experience. For this reason, I felt it was time to travel up to the Lake Powell area, our most popular destination. Well, for that and all the sweet discounts I get!
Straddling the border between Utah and Arizona, Lake Powell is an easy 4 hour drive from Phoenix. As the lifeline for much of the Southwest, Lake Powell is the largest man-made reservoir (2nd to Lake Mead by max capacity) in the U.S. Upon completion of the Glen Canyon dam in 1963, it took 11 years for the lake to completely fill. The whole lake as well as much of the surrounding sandstone desert is encompassed in the massive Glen Canyon Recreational Area. Over 2 million visitors recreate in Glen Canyon each year, most enjoying the water of the lake in some way or another. I can now say I was one of them!
I made the drive up to Page after work late on Sunday night. I pulled into the Horseshoe Bend parking lot, deciding to spend the night here in preparation for an early morning sunrise. For once in my life, I actually followed through with this and watched the early morning light splash color onto the famous sandstone formation. Eager to see more, I headed down the rode for a quick jaunt into a little known slot canyon called Water Holes. Unfortunately, the really spectacular part required a 20 foot rappel and I wasn’t quite prepared for that. The 1/4 mile or so I was able to explore was a preview to the main show that came later that morning: Antelope Slot Canyon. While waiting for the tour to start at 10:30, I found myself perusing the John Wesley Powell Museum. It contained some interesting information about the early Colorado River explorers, including the one armed Civil War Vet whom Lake Powell is named after.
Time for my slot canyon tour.
I went through Antelope Slot Canyon Tours by Chief Tsosie, one of several companies in town who all provide the same tour. Normally the prime time tour that I was taking would have cost $48 or so, but because we recommend them I was able to go on it for a fee of $6. Along with 11 other passengers, I hopped onto the back of a jacked up jeep and off we went. While I thought the 3 other jeep fulls going at our same time might make the canyon a little crowded, I expected to get a little privacy with one of nature’s most spectacular creations. Boy was I wrong! About 15 other jeeps awaited us at the entrance. People were literally swarming the canyon like bees to a nest. Once inside, all chaos let loose. Herded by our guides like a bunch of sheep, we shuffled through the 3 foot canyon, battling for air to breathe, let alone room to move, and space to take pictures. Being able to appreciate the majesty of this place was out of the question. With that, in the seconds that I had to really look at the canyon before being corralled to a new meeting spot, I could tell that this was one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Honestly, there is nothing else like it that I have ever seen. No other slot canyon I’ve seen comes close. While I have many gripes about the Navajo’s management of this place, something I think I will delve more into in a later blog, I can say nothing bad about the canyon itself other than it is too beautiful for its own good. If there was ever such a time where the phrase “too much of a good thing” came into fruition, this could be it. Enough for now.
When the tour ended, I sped over to Lake Powell and caught the 1:00 Canyons Adventure boat cruise. I meant to go on the Rainbow Bridge one, but missed the time slot by a few minutes. The boat cruise was informational and a decent way to spend the afternoon, though a bit too passive for me. I wanted hands on and that would have to wait until the next day. I settled for a night at the Dam Bar & Grille and caught a beautiful sunset at Horseshoe Bend.
The following day, I rented a kayak (for free) and battled the wind and the waves for 5 hours, cruising around Wahweap Bay. It was more my style compared to the boat tour. Being in a kayak allowed me to creep into some of the smaller canyons that houseboats and powerboats could only dream of entering. I lunched on a beach, devouring my Subway sandwich in record time as I strolled the shore. It was a little soggy, some water had gotten into the bag, but obviously that didn’t matter much. After lunch, I paddled into the middle of the bay and took a nap, letting the current take me where it pleased. It ended up bringing me back to the marina, helping my tired arms get me back to shore. Kayaking is a hell of a workout! I returned the kayak and took a self guided tour of a few of the houseboats that we sell. Houseboats are impressive. Basically a floating RV, they have full kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, furniture, and some of the best ones, a whole lot more- think hot tubs and satellite TV!
Someday I will be on a houseboat trip of my own.