We’re back as Ambassadors for the Nation’s Vacation and are so excited to share with you some of the best things to see, do, and eat at some of our favorite destinations. On this road trip we’ve gone rafting on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, explored the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, visited Lake Mead and even spent some time at Togwotee Mountain Lodge near Moran, WY! But first, here are our top travel tips for visiting Lake Powell. Are you ready? Let’s go!
General Info for Lake Powell
Lake Powell is part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and is located in both Utah and Arizona. GCNRA covers over 1.2 million acres so you’ll want to hone in on an area for exploration. We chose to spend our time near Lake Powell Resorts and Wahweap Marina, which are located near Page, Arizona.
Getting here is easy and fun via van. You can check out nearby Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, and even Bryce Canyon National Park. If you prefer to fly, the Page Municipal Airport has daily flights from Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Lake Powell has five marinas and four of them have launch ramps. Be sure to check online to make sure that the ramp you want to access is open.
Visitor and Information Centers
Highway 89 at Glen Canyon Dam
The Carl Hayden Visitor Center was closed while we were there due to Covid-19. Check the NPS website for the most current information.
Best Places To Stay at Lake Powell
Our top pick for the best place to stay at Lake Powell is Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas. It is conveniently located at Wahweap Marina, making it an excellent basecamp for all of your lake adventures. The rooms are super clean and comfortable and come equipped with a mini-fridge and a coffeemaker. They even have an outdoor balcony, some of which face the lake, so that you can maximize your time outdoors, even when you’re back at your room.
In addition to the awesome location, Lake Powell Resorts has good wifi (you can’t get it in every room on the property but there is a solid signal in the lobby in case you need to check in with work or home), is ADA accessible, smoke-free, and pet friendly.
Note: If you’re going rafting in the Grand Canyon with Wilderness River Adventures, Lake Powell Resorts is a great spot to stay the night before you depart. In fact, the orientation meeting with WRA takes place on the lawn at Lake Powell Resorts.
Lake Powell Resort is our top choice for where to stay when you’re in the area but the campground is really nice, too. If you’re hoping to camp while visiting Glen Canyon National Recreation Area or Page, AZ, check out The Wahweap RV and Campground. It can accommodate both RV’s and tents and is about a quarter of a mile from the shore of Lake Powell. It’s also conveniently located near the boat launch and Wahweap Swim Beach.
The campground offers the following:
- 139 Full Hook-Up sites with electric, water, and sewer.
- 36 Tent sites
- 112 Tent/Self-contained RV sites
- A group tent camping area
As far as amenities go, the Wahweap RV and Campground has a bunch: coin-operated laundry machines and showers, a campground store, free wifi, bathrooms, picnic tables, and fire pits and grills. Though there are trees at the campground, shade is limited so be sure to bring a tarp.
Want a little taste of the resort and campground? Book a hybrid trip and spend a few nights at the campground and a few nights in an air-conditioned room. The campground and the resort are only about 5 minutes apart from one another via vehicle.
Best Things to Do at Lake Powell
Rent a Boat!
Chances are that if you’re visiting Lake Powell, you’re excited to get out on the water. And lucky for you, there are numerous activities for you to choose from at Wahweap Marina. You can either bring your own water toy or you can rent one. To rent a powerboat you’ll need to show a valid driver’s license but a boating license isn’t required. Before you take the boat out the staff will give you an orientation and some instructions. Then, you’re off to explore!
We rented a 19-foot Triumph with a 150 horsepower motor from the marina. The boat had a bimini to keep the sun off of us and though it was just the two of us, the boat could seat up to 8 people. It had been a long time since I had driven a boat, but the skills quickly came back to me. We motored around in Wahweap Bay for a bit and then after we got a little more comfortable with the throttle we hopped into the channel and motored over to see Glen Canyon Dam. It was cool to see the dam from the water and after we snapped a few photos we then made our way over towards Antelope Point. We didn’t go into any of the smaller canyons but saw a few kayakers that did and it made us want to return at some point to do just that.
In our opinion, renting a powerboat is one of the best things to do at Lake Powell. We loved being able to see the lake and the canyon from being on the lake. It’s a really unique experience to motor in between the gorgeous slickrock canyon walls. It’s fun to see all the other boaters out on the water. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera for this one. Be sure to also pack snacks and plenty of water, too, so that you don’t have to turn back because you’re hungry or thirsty.
Rent Stand-up Paddleboards or Kayaks
If you don’t feel like renting a powerboat and would prefer to get some exercise, we recommend renting a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or a kayak. It’s another one of the best things to do at Lake Powell. The staff will help you get a properly fitting life jacket and will help you push off from the dock. Then you’re free to explore! We stuck to exploring in and around Wahweap Bay since the day we paddled out the wind was blowing pretty strong.
Lake Powell is a great place for paddlers of all skill levels. Those who have the ability and desire to paddle into some of the slot canyons can explore Navajo Canyon to the east of Wahweap Marina. And for those paddlers who are just starting out (or getting back into the activity), you can hang out in and around the marina and hug the shoreline of Wahweap Bay where the wake from boats will be less severe.
Go Hiking on the Hanging Garden Trail
Though boating on Lake Powell is one of the best things to do when visiting Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the hiking in this area is pretty incredible, too. If you’re staying at Lake Powell Resort or Waheap Campground, we recommend checking out the Hanging Garden Trail. The parking lot and trailhead for the Hanging Garden Trail (1 mile) is located just a short 5-10 minute drive from Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas. Coming from the resort, once you cross over the bridge for Glen Canyon Dam, go about a 1/4 of a mile and it’ll be on your left-hand side. NPS states that the park has no maintained trails. That being said, when we visited, the Hanging Garden Trail had a couple of signs and some rocks outlining the path. Make sure that you can navigate without your cell phone by bringing a map and a compass.
Hike The Chains
If you feel comfortable with hiking and navigating in areas without maintained trails, check out the area known as The Chains. To access it, you’ll make your way to the parking lot for the Hanging Garden Trail. But instead of parking there, you’ll continue past the trailhead and down along the gravel road another half a mile. The road will dead end and that’s how you know you’ve arrived at The Chains.
Caroline and I spent an evening hiking in The Chains and it was one of the highlights of our trip. We’d visited with the intention of making our way down to the water’s edge and also photographing the changing light on the slickrock. It was a photographer’s dream. We’re already looking forward to returning there again someday.
Watch sunrise or sunset (or both) from Lake Powell Resort
Catching the start or end of a day will always be one of our favorite things to do. And there’s no better place to do it than at Lake Powell Resort. There are numerous lake-viewing areas around the property that are first-come, first-serve, (i.e. the seats by the pool and the tables and chairs on the lawn in between both of the pools) but you can also book a Lake View Room or Marina View Room and not have to leave your room at all. Or, better yet, watch the sun do its thing from inside the Rainbow Room or the Driftwood Lounge with a drink in your hand.
Visit Horseshoe Bend
One of the best things to do near Lake Powell is to visit Horseshoe Bend. From the parking lot, it’s a short hike (.75 miles one way) to the overlook but the effort is worth it. The view is stunning. You will see the river almost wrap around itself and curve into a horseshoe-like shape.
There are bathrooms at the parking area but not at the overlook itself. Be sure to pack plenty of water as there isn’t any shade. There is a small fence at the viewing area but there are numerous rocks and places without a fence so be sure to hold onto small children and watch footing.
Heads up: Bring some money as there is a $10 parking fee for cars and RV’s. Motorcycles are $5
Best Places to Eat at Lake Powell
Upon checking in to your room at the resort, walk the short distance over to the host’s stand and make a dinner reservation to dine at the Rainbow Room. Though every seat in the room has a nice view, the absolute best tables are by the large picture windows. Though you can’t reserve a specific table, if you go early (they start seating at 5 pm) your chances increase of getting one of those coveted window seats.
As for the food…it’s fantastic. We ate breakfast in the Rainbow Room each morning (no reservation required) and dined here each evening.
Our favorites things to eat in the Rainbow Room at Lake Powell Resorts
- Rainbow Room ala carte: bacon, sourdough toast, eggs over medium, coffee, grapefruit half, grits
- Grits Rancheros: 2 cage-free eggs cooked to order, black beans, green onions, pico de gallo, salsa Roja, avocado, sour cream, and a biscuit
- Rainbow Room Beet Salad: arugula, smoked yogurt, pickled fennel, toasted sunflower seeds, lemon tahini dressing.
- Ahi Ceviche Tostada: avocado puree, citrus, radish, lime crema, tajin
- Seared Salmon: grilled peach jalapeño salsa, avocado crema, farro pilaf, seasonal vegetables.
- Pork Belly Carbonara: linguine, peas, fresno chile, Copper State hollandaise, tomato jam
- 5 Ways to Strawberry: ice cream, crumble, coulis, compressed, freeze dried yogurt
- Peach Cobbler: buttermilk cornbread topping, vanilla ice cream, tequila sauce
Note: You do not need to be a guest at the resort to eat at any of the restaurants.
If you search for Latitude 37 on Google Maps, you’ll get a dot out in the water. But it’s not a mistake. Latitude 37 is literally on the water. And in addition to its unique location, they’ve got some great food and drink options. Opt for the cheeseburger and fries … they’re guaranteed to hit the spot. We also really enjoyed the BBQ Chicken and Peach Salad that was served with quinoa, feta, arugula, almonds, and bacon! Oh, and they have a full bar. Hang out on the patio out front or walk up a flight of stairs for a panoramic view of the marina.
The Driftwood Lounge is located next to the Rainbow Room. It’s got a relaxed vibe to it (shorts and a t-shirt are fine) and the view of Lake Powell is great. It’s also got a bar that you can sit at as well as a couple of high-top tables and a couple of flat-screen TVs.
If you need a quick snack or a cup of Starbucks coffee, Wind will take care of you. This little cafe is located in the lobby next to the Driftwood Lounge. It’s got a cooler stocked with grab-n-go options like hummus and vegetables, salads, sandwiches, and fruit cups. It opens at 6 am from March 1 – October 31 and at 7 am the rest of the year. If you’re going rafting in the Grand Canyon, it’s a great place to pick up breakfast the morning you depart!
Top Tips for Visiting Lake Powell
Bring a bathing suit because in addition to the lake, there are two pools at Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas.
Drink lots of water! Though you’ll most likely be on or near the water during your visit, that doesn’t actually count as far as your hydrating needs go. You’re in the desert and you’ll need to drink lots of fluids to feel your best. With your hydration needs in mind, be sure to bring a reusable water bottle.
Pack water shoes and wear them! The shoreline of Lake Powell, while sandy, also has rocks to contend with. Protect your feet so that you are not having to go to the emergency room for stitches!
Consider bringing a small dry bag with you if you go boating or stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking. It’ll come in handy for storing your phone, keys, and wallet.
If you go hiking, be sure that you can navigate. As mentioned above, there are few trails in the area so you’ll want to make sure you can find your way back to where you started.
Check the weather forecast before you head out onto the lake or on a hike and do your best to monitor current and changing conditions. If things look like they’re taking a turn for the worse, get off the water. If that’s not possible, try to seek shelter in a cove. Wind can come up quickly and unexpectedly so be sure to boat within your ability.
You’re likely to go in and out of time zones during your visit. In fact, the resort, where we stayed, has facilities that are in both. Luckily, there are clocks with both time zones at the front desk, and our cell phones did a good job of keeping accurate time, so you shouldn’t have too tough of a time keeping a dinner reservation or boat rental.
Lake Powell Recap
Ready to book your stay at Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas? Still gathering information for a future trip? Like, pin, share, or save for later and if you’ve been, please leave a comment below and let us know about your favorite and best things to do at Lake Powell!