Glen Canyon is an mind-bogglingly vast canyon in deep red rock country, which has been filled with North America's largest man made lake, Lake Powell. Surrounded by nothing but red slick rock, the crystal blue lake is strikingly out of place and looks like it belongs on Mars. Lake Powell would be totally deserted were it not for its popularity with house-boat owners, who sail around this dead and beautiful expanse. The desert surrounding the lake is mostly uninhabited except for grazing long horn steer, jackrabbits, and lizards.
Flora and fauna
Getting into Lake Powell pretty much requires a boat launched from a local marina, as the lake is surrounded by steep sandstone cliffs—that is, unless you are very ambitious.
Fees and permits
Entrance fees for a private vehicle are $15, while individuals (on foot, on bike, or on motorcycle) must pay a $7 entrance fees. All entrance fees are good for seven consecutive days. The Glen Canyon NRA Annual Pass is $30 and provides entrance for one year.
There are several passes for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes provide free entry at national parks and national wildlife refuges, and also cover standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. These passes are valid at all national parks including Glen Canyon National Recreation Area:
- The $80 Annual Pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone. Military personnel can obtain a free annual pass in person at a federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID.
- U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over can obtain a Senior Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site for $80, or through the mail for $90; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
- U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities can obtain an Access Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site at no charge, or through the mail for $10; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
- Individuals who have volunteered 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program can receive a free Volunteer Pass.
- 4th graders can receive an Annual 4th Grade Pass that allows free entry for the duration of the 4th grade school year (September-August) to the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid Outdoors website is required.
The National Park Service offers free admission to all national parks on five days every year:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January); next observance is January 20, 2020
- The first day of National Park Week (third Saturday in April); next observance is April 18, 2020
- The National Park Service Birthday (August 25)
- National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September); next observance is September 26, 2020
- Veterans Day (November 11)
By guided tour or boat rental
A number of companies provide guided tours of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell that include transportation from the surrounding areas. Some companies will provide bus travel from nearby towns while others begin in the Glen Canyon/Lake Powell Area. Some will provide just a brief tour with small stops, while others may take you on a hike, and arrange all your meals. Another option includes renting boats or houseboats at or near the lake and charting your own excursion. Because many companies provide rentals you can find a variety of boats and price levels.
- Invert Sports, +1-888-205-7119. Luxury vacation rentals and guided watercraft tours including; boats, jet skis, waverunners, houseboats, stand up paddle boards, wakeboards, water skis, water trampolines, other water toys, water sport lessons, and private tours. Servicing all marinas at Lake Powell: Wahweap marina, Antelope Point Marina, Bullfrog Marina, and Halls Crossing Marina.
- Hydros Adventures Tours, +1 928 310-8141. Offers one day and overnight hiking, rafting, backpacking, and adventure tours to Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona, and Southern Utah. Pickups in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon area.
- Offshore Marina, +1 435 788-2142, provides rental powerboats and waverunners in the Lake Powell Bullfrog and Halls Crossing Marina area, while Aramark Corporation provides houseboat rentals at both Bullfrog Marina and Wahweap Marina.
- 1 Rainbow Bridge National Monument, ☏ . A small monument located about 50 miles uplake (about a two hour boat ride) from the Glen Canyon Dam, set around the world's largest known natural bridge. The monument can be accessed from a wharf on the lake, followed by a short walk up the canyon.
Rainbow Room, Lake Powell Resort, 100 Lakeshore Drive, Page. With a stunning 180 degree view of Wahweap Bay, this fine dining establishment is open March 15 - October 31 for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- The Grill at Offshore Marina, Mile Marker 30, Highway 276 (7 miles prior to Bullfrog Marina, just passed Ticaboo), ☏ . The Grill at Offshore Marina offers fresh food off the grill, deli sandwiches and salad bar. It's located within the Chevron at Offshore Marina.
Glen Canyon is definitely BYOB territory and you had better bring gallons of water for your trip.
Most all lodgings on or near Glen Canyon are located in Page, which is two miles away from the lake on top of the butte.
- Defiance House Lodge (Bullfrog, UT), ☏ , toll-free: . 50 rooms, Anasazi Restaurant and Lounge. Family Units, small boat rentals.
Lake Powell is abundant with camping opportunities, whether you seek developed campsites with RV pads, putting a tent up on a secluded beach or anchoring your boat for the night in a quiet cove. Beach camping is the most common form of camping at Lake Powell and only requires you pay the entrance fee to the Park. Each marina operated by Aramark - the park's concessionaire, has a developed campground that can be used for a nightly fee. The National Park Service also manages a few primitive campgrounds on Lake Powell that have a small fee per car entering the campground.
- Bullfrog Marina Campground. Near Bullfrog Marina
- Lone Rock Beach Campground. 4 miles from Wahweap Marina
- Stanton Creek Campground. Adjacent to Bullfrog Marina.
- Wahweap Campground and RV Park, Lakeshore Drive, Page (Located adjacent to Wahweap Marina), toll-free: . Located in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, this is one of the nicest campgrounds in the National Park System. With a stunning view of Wahweap Bay, there is an eco-friendly campground store, coin operated showers and laundry room. All camp sites have charcoal grills and picnic tables. Only a short distance to boat launch ramps, swim beaches, boat tours and small boat rentals.
The Park Service requires that you register before camping in the backcountry, mostly just so that they know who is where when in case of an emergency. But while it is in your best interest to do so, registering is pretty much optional as the area is very lightly patrolled and pretty much anywhere is a campsite.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area has a severe desert climate and it is very dangerous to head out into this wild expanse without proper preparations and gallons of water. If you are the least bit unsure as to what constitutes "proper preparations," visit a National Park Service visitor center before heading into the backcountry.
If driving in the area, carry extra gas and plan your route to take into account the very long distances between gas stations. If driving on dirt roads, be aware of your limits (and your car's), and prepare for the possibility that either the road could wash out in the case of a storm, or that your car could break down dozens of miles from civilization, with no cell phone service, in the unforgiving desert climate.
As with most of Canyon Country, flash floods are a sporadic, but ever-present danger. Be sure to avoid parking in a wash and never head into a canyon before checking the current weather report—far-off rainstorms will flood canyons even if they are miles away from the downpour.
- Head northwest into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, north to Capitol Reef National Park, or northeast to Canyonlands National Park.
- Head south to Monument Tribal Park and Navajo Nation.
- If you haven't already, visit Glen Canyon Dam
|Routes through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area|
|Kanab ← Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat'l Mon. ←||W S||→ Page → Flagstaff|