How to spend 3 epic days at Lake Powell

Lake Powell is a must-visit destination. We have pieced together an epic 3-day itinerary that includes lodging, hiking, floating the Colorado River, beer, food, and boats!

By: Nick Tort + Save to a List

The Lake Powell area in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is an adventure mecca that has activities for any and all travelers. The 186-mile Lake Powell, which spans the Arizona-Utah border, is the second-largest man-made reservoir in the United States. It has approximately 2,000 miles of shoreline, 96 major side canyons, sapphire blue water, and towering red sandstone cliffs, buttes, and sandy beaches.

Right around the corner, Horseshoe Bend cuts through the landscape. Not far from there, Antelope Canyon weaves its gorgeous canyon walls just below the surface. There is almost too much to discover in just one place, so we pieced together a 3 day itinerary that packs in all the epic punches, delicious munches and savory sights that is suitable for travelers from all walks of life.

Day 1: Arrive and hike

Hike to the edge of Horseshoe Bend

Visit the Horseshoe Bend Overlook at Mile Marker 545 on US89, which is only 5 miles south of Page, Arizona. The new parking area is well-marked, simple to find, and accessible from dawn to dusk. Hit the trail to the rim after paying your entrance fee. Currently it is $5 for motorcycles, $10 for passenger vehicles, or $35 for light commercial vehicles.

The .7-mile roundtrip trail graded and partially paved in conjunction with the parking lot, making it slightly longer but less mountainous than it was in the past. There are benches every few hundred yards, and wheelchair access is possible with assistance. There is a new raised platform with guardrails, though they don’t surround the edge completely. 

There are restrooms in the parking lot and shaded rest stops along the path out to the viewpoint. Give yourself 60 to 90 minutes to take in the breathtaking scene.

I recommend bringing plenty of water, sun protection, and proper hiking shoes. 

For photographers, make sure you bring a wide lens to capture the magnitude of this epic view. For phone users, use the widest setting available. The best lighting for photography at Horseshoe Bend will be during sunrise since the sun will be coming up and over the edge you’re viewing from.

Check in at Lake Powell Resort

Lake Powell Resort is the only lodging available on the southern end of the lake. It features 348 waterfront rooms, 2 lakeside swimming pools, a hot tub, fire pits and great food. Onsite restaurants include the Rainbow Room, Driftwood Lounge, Wind Coffee and Latitude 37. It is the absolute perfect basecamp for any adventures in the Lake Powell area. 

Boat rentals are available a quarter of a mile away from the resort for those looking to get out on the water. The resort offers a Canyon Princess Dinner Cruise and Navajo Canyon Cruise, which are available depending on the season.

Day 2: On the water X2

Morning - Breakfast with 270 degrees of epic sunrise views

The breakfast buffet at the Rainbow Room in Lake Powell Resort is top-notch. The food is fresh and delicious. The staff is incredible at handling the morning rush of tourists eager to eat and load up on the bus for their next adventure. But the real winner here is the view. 

I’m not sure what it is about this area, but the sunrises here are always brilliant. The sun comes up behind the canyon walls in the distance, casting glimmering light across the surface of Lake Powell. The restaurant has floor to ceiling windows that offer diners 270 degrees of pure eye candy.

Navigate the lake with a powerboat rental

Renting a powerboat at Wahweap Marina is almost too easy and absolutely one of the best ways to experience Lake Powell. The staff is super thorough getting you set up on the boat and they take the time to go through recommendations on the lake. Since we had another adventure lined up after this, we had a shorter window. The staff was incredible at making sure we were able to get the most of our lake experience.

We rented a 19-foot-powerboat that seats 8, offers 150 hp outboard, and is awesome for cruising around the lake, fishing, and some rad water activities such as tubing and water skiing. Lake Powell is loaded with super cool canyons that beg to be explored, beaches to pull up on, and cliffs to jump off.

The boats are equipped with a small shade, but for the most part, you will be exposed for the entire day. Bring plenty of sunscreen and possibly wear some UV protecting clothing such as a sun hoody and hat. Bring some sturdy sandals if you plan on hopping off the boat to explore the rocky edges. Load up a cooler with plenty of water, fruits and snacks. The water can get choppy, which means there will be some splashing over the edge so bring a dry bags to keep clothes and electronics safe and dry.

Afternoon - Raft the Colorado River around Horseshoe Bend

Ok, so you stood at the edge looking down into the insanely massive bend of the Colorado river as it snaked around towering rock walls. Now, it’s time to see it from the river looking up on a guided rafting tour with Wilderness River Adventures.

This half-day guide-led interpretive river raft tour not only lets you soak in the serene magnificence of the Colorado River, but also take a dip in it! Experienced tour guides share stories about the history of the area, from the mining industry to the legend of John Doyle Lee. 

At Petroglyph Beach, travelers can see well-preserved 5,000-year-old hand-carved depictions of bighorn sheep and other ancient canyon residents, as well as the iconic Horseshoe Bend, where sightings of hawk, osprey, coyote, and great blue heron are common.

There is no shade on the boat, so dress in sun protective clothing, bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Water shoes or hiking sandals are perfect for this tour since you will be hopping off at the sandy beaches to hike a short way to see some petroglyphs. 

The tour is about 4.5 hours from start to finish, so bring snacks or pack a light lunch. There is plenty of room for your bags on the boat, but it may be a good idea to have a dry bag for some of your gear.

Evening - Happy bellies and fireside drinks

Wind down the night with one of the yummy specialty cocktails at the Driftwood Lounge and enjoy it under the stars being warmed by the massive fire pit on the pool patio. This is the perfect spot to swap your adventure stories with other travelers from around the world, have a late night snack from the bar, or just stare into the mesmerizing flames.

Day 3: A rare experience at Lone Rock

Normally, this iconic monolithic rock is surrounded by crystal clear waters and is only accessible by boat. However, due to two decades of drought, the water level of Lake Powell is incredibly low, completely changing the landscape. It is now possible to not only hike right up to Lone Rock, but all the way around it as well! Hopefully, this is only a temporary change and the water levels will soon rise back to their normal level. In the meantime, take advantage of this rare opportunity to experience this formation with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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