Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near Page, Arizona
Before we get into visiting Glen Canyon we want to remind you to practice the LEAVE NO TRACE principles. Please remember to stay on trail, pack out all trash, and explore prepared. Do not carve into rocks or canyon walls. It is illegal!
There is so much to do in the Lake Powell, Page, AZ, and Marble Canyon area, and much of this is within the National Park Service’s Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This historic area was once just the Colorado River working its way through southern Utah into Marble Canyon and the Grand Canyon of present day Arizona. When the first western explorers such as John Wesley Powell started their journey down the Grand Canyon from this area, they made note of the glens feeding off of the river, later leading to the name, Glen Canyon.
We’ve done two weekend trips from Phoenix here, and below we suggest ideas to build your own itinerary based off what we did. Please know that Glen Canyon National Recreation Area does require an entrance fee.
Rent a boat at Wahweap Marina
We booked a full day rental and enjoyed exploring Lake Powell by power boat; multiple size boats are available. It was a great day on the water and we went down different canyons you can only get to with a watercraft. On our day on the lake we brought food and drinks to enjoy in the calmer waters during lunch, jumped in the water, and marveled at the spectacular views and canyon walls of the nation’s second largest reservoir.
Tip: boat rental needs to returned by 4:00pm so get to your boat rental when they open! Make sure you go to the correct marina. The marina North of the hotel is the one that offers rentals.
Raft Horseshoe Bend
We did a half-day guided rafting tour with Wilderness River Adventures from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee’s Ferry along the Colorado River. The raft is motorized with bench seating, meaning we were able to just enjoy the scenery, take pictures, and listen to our guide. We took the morning trip around the middle of September and it was absolutely gorgeous! Our tour included an amazing morning glow of the canyon walls, calm waters, and the right amount of sun.
This is the only tour that allows you to take off from the dam. You take a bus from Wilderness River Adventures headquarters and drive through a tunnel that takes you to the base of Glen Canyon Bridge. From there you have to wear a hard helmet and walk towards your raft. No pictures are allowed until you are on the raft!
Stay Lakeside at Lake Powell Resort
We stayed lakeside on Lake Powell at the Lake Powell Resort. The resort was conveniently located near the marinas and had spectacular views. Through the hotel staff you should be able to book excursions and rentals that Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas offer.
Eat At Rainbow Room
The dining room at Lake Powell Resort is stunning! They’re open for breakfast and dinner.
Lees Ferry is named for its historical ferry crossing point manned by John D. Lee for some “interesting” reasons to say the least. It is the gateway to Marble Canyon and officially recognized by the NPS as the eastern gate to the Grand Canyon; in fact, Grand Canyon NP Law Enforcement rangers patrol the area because of its relation to the Grand Canyon. At Lees Ferry you can camp, hike, fish and get on the water with the correct permits.
First come first serve campsites and a camping fee is required. A ranger did come by daily to confirm. We loved the sound of the river rapids at night and the starry sky.
$20 per site/per night. 54 designated sites. No hookups. RV dump station. Grills provided, no open fires. Quiet time 10pm-6am. Modern bathroom/comfort station, potable water available, launch ramp 2 miles. Gas and supply store at Marble Canyon, about 5 miles away.
Spencer trail is very close to Lees Ferry Campground. Although relatively close, we drove to the parking lot so we didn’t add any extra miles on to our hike. This hike is rated as difficult and there are steep drop offs on the side of the trail. Additionally, some of the trail is fairly sandy, which makes traction difficult.
This trail is 3.8 miles out and back with over 1,600 ft in elevation gain. From the top you have an incredible view of the Colorado River.
Cathedral Wash Trail
Cathedral Wash is right off the road that brings you into Lees Ferry. This trail follows a wide slot canyon to the Colorado River. Although the trail does not have major elevation change, it is challenging to find the best route. We recommend going slow, checking to see if there are better options, and watching your footing with good footwear. The rule of thumb we followed on our hike: can we come back up this way? The full trail is is 3.3 miles out and back and the trail ends at the Colorado River. We saw some rafters going by!
Important: be sure to check the weather forecast before hiking. Flash floods are common in this area
If you have time, visit the famous Horseshoe Bend! It is a fairy quick stop and there is a fee to enter. Horseshoe Bend itself is in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, but the parking lot is on City of Page land so there is a fee; a Glen Canyon NRA pass or America The Beautiful Pass doesn’t work. Car or RV: $10. For more information visit the City of Page’s website.
For more information on Glen Canyon National Recreation Area we recommend to visit the NPS site. Check out our in-depth blog post on Lees Ferry Hikes and on the Arizona Camper Van Rental.
Other Places to Consider
To learn more about the gear we bring on our hikes and in some of the photos above, CLICK HERE