Exploring by land and water – Page, Arizona

2016-03-31-UT-1170116.jpgWe were excited to arrive at Lake Powell for a change of pace after many miles of hiking in and around Zion National Park.  The 186-mile long lake lies mostly in Utah and straddles the Utah/Arizona border.  We stayed for a week at Wahweap RV Park (Steve’s review here), which is technically in Arizona but right on the state line with Utah, and we entered Utah momentarily on a daily basis whenever we left the park.

Living on these state lines caused some scheduling complexities.  Is the time at our campsite the same as at our destination that day?  Well, the campground at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area follows Arizona time, which is Mountain Standard Time, year-round.  Arizona is the only state that doesn’t switch to Daylight Savings Time.  We learned that Navajo reservations within Arizona do switch to Daylight Savings Time, so there can even be an hour of time difference within the state.

Tower Butte

Tower Butte of the Navajo Nation

Since Utah does switch to Daylight Savings Time, we had to be careful when booking reservations for tours.  When we booked the Antelope Canyon Boat tour, it departed on Arizona time – easy-peasy.  But when we booked the Antelope Canyon Slot Tour we had to use Navajo Time because it’s located within the Navajo Nation.  It can be a real “gotcha” for people new to the area.

Page, Arizona

Wide open spaces

Lake Powell

Sunset approaches at Lake Powell

It ended up being another busy week, once we discovered the many available land and water options.  We loved our regular crossings of spectacular Glen Canyon Bridge as we headed into town or our activities.  Not long after our arrival we checked out the visitor center at the dam and walked both directions across the bridge, while keeping the camera busy at all times.  Steve wanted to take a tour of the dam, but it was closed due to construction – bummer!

Glen Canyon

Page, Arizona sits on Manson Mesa with the Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge in the foreground

We learned that Glen Canyon Dam is not quite as high as Hoover Dam (only 16′ shorter), but it is wider by over 300′.  It’s the second-largest concrete arch dam in the United States (behind Hoover, of course).  It doesn’t generate as much power as Hoover, but it’s a powerhouse that supplies electricity to 1.5 million people.

Construction was completed in 1964 after 8 years of work, and the controversy about it’s affect on the environment and loss of the canyons behind it continues to this day.

Glen Canyon Dam

Lake Powell is 560′ deep at the dam and it took 17 years to fill the reservoir once it was completed

Lake Powell

Lake Powell was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon by the Glen Canyon Dam

The Glen Canyon Bridge is also an impressive structure.  Completed in 1959, it’s 1271′ across and 700′ high.  Views of the dam and river canyon were stunning from up there, and we were reminded of views from the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge at Hoover Dam.  These bridges are awesome, and it’s so nice that folks can walk out onto them and take in the wonderful engineering and views of the area.

Glen Canyon Bridge

Horseshoe Bend Overlook

Just a few miles from the bridge on Hwy 89 was this 1.5-mile roundtrip walk out to the Horseshoe Bend overlook.  I had seen pictures of this tremendous curve of the Colorado River, and we were excited to check it out.

The path leading to it involved walking up and over a sandy hill:

Horseshoe Bend Overlook

We arrived here later in the day and paid the penalty of having to deal with lots of people

The overlook is a great place to see the Colorado River making a wide sweep around a sandstone escarpment, creating a 270-degree horseshoe-shaped bend in the canyon:

Horseshoe Bend

At the rim we looked 1000′ down to the river.  The boats looked like little dots on the water!

While we were being amazed peering into the canyon, these two little guys showed some curiosity in us:

Chuckwalla

A pair of curious Chuckwallas

Further down Hwy 89 we stopped at another overlook to take in a spectacular view of the dam, bridge and the Colorado River:

Glen Canyon Dam

Impressive!

Colorado River

Another view of the Colorado River meandering through Navajo Sandstone

Antelope Canyon Boat Tour

Taking a boat tour on Lake Powell is pretty much a required activity while here.  In fact, when we made our reservations over the phone for the RV park they asked when we would like to take a boat tour!  We took ours from Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas, which was close enough to our campground that we actually walked there for the departure.

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This was a relaxing narrated boat tour that took us around the lake near the dam, and then down into Antelope Canyon where things got a bit tighter as the boat cruised deep into the canyon.  We enjoyed the ride in great weather as we listened to the narration that described the history and geology of the high-walled Navajo Sandstone.

Antelope Canyon Boat Tour

Antelope Canyon boat tour

In the distance, flue gas stacks of the Navajo Generation Station

Antelope Canyon Boat Tour

We reached our turnaround point as the canyon got very narrow

Lower Antelope Canyon guided walk

Our good friend Mike had given us information about Antelope Canyon walking tours way back when we started our adventure, and we didn’t forget it.  So when we arrived in Page we had a choice between an upper or lower Antelope Canyon Tour, and after some research we chose the lower canyon.  We didn’t realize how extremely popular these tours are until we arrived – the waiting crowd was large, despite the partially overcast day.

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The canyon is on Navajo Nation land, and a Navajo-licensed guide must accompany each tour.  Guided tours start every twenty minutes for groups of approximately 15 people at $28 per person, and they last for just over an hour.  We went down several flights of metal stairs to descend into the canyon, and used short ladders and more stairs to exit at the other end.

I thought our guide gave us enough time to take pictures, as we gushed over these beautiful natural sculptures.  At one point he even helped many of us with the correct camera settings to use and where to shoot for the best results.

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The Navajo name for Lower Antelope Canyon is Hasdeztwazi, or “Spiral Rock Arches.”  It’s a half mile long and 120′ deep.  Created over many thousands of years by the relentless forces of water and wind, the carving and sculpting of the sandstone resulted in incredible forms, textures, and shapes.  There are no words to express what we experienced, so I’ll let the photos give at least a taste of this wondrous place.

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Looking around, up, ahead, behind or down – an absolutely amazing place!

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We were awestruck by what nature has sculpted, but of course on a crowded tour any sense of tranquility or reflection could not be enjoyed.

Antelope Canyon

Our guide took a great shot of us, too

If you’re interested in what the upper Antelope Canyon has to offer and want to see absolutely stunning photos of it, check out Hector and Brenda’s experience on Island Girl’s recent post.  Taking one of these tours is a must when you’re in the area.

This busy week was full of diverse activities in a unique place.  The city of Page was small but had everything we needed, and we looked for every opportunity to drive around the area and enjoy the scenery.  Isn’t that what this travel thing is all about?

 

Next Up:  Banded Hills, Toadstools and Canyons – Kane County, UT