The best way to see Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is by boat, either your own or a rental, or on a boat tour. Our favorite way to explore is by renting a houseboat for a week and wandering among the numerous side canyons.
If your time is limited, try to spend a few hours touring the dam and seeing the exhibits in the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, particularly the excellent relief map that helps you see the big picture. Then take one of the boat tours, such as the half-day trip to Rainbow Bridge. Adventurous types might want to buy some good maps, rent a boat for the day, and explore the canyons on their own. But whatever you do, try to get to Rainbow Bridge.
Bringing Your Own Boat -- If you happened to bring your own boat, whether it's a one-person kayak or family-size cabin cruiser, you'll have a wonderful time. Boat-launching ramps are located at Wahweap, Stateline, Lees Ferry, Bullfrog, Halls Crossing, and Hite (the locations of these marinas are described earlier in the chapter). Fuel, supplies, sewage pump-out stations, drinking water, and boat repairs are available at all of the above except Lees Ferry. Services and supplies are also available at Dangling Rope Marina, about 40 miles uplake from Wahweap Marina and accessible only by boat.
As part of the Lake Powell Pure campaign, new facilities are being added for the disposal of human waste. You can get directions to them at the marinas or visitor center.
Warning: Carbon Monoxide Danger--When you're boating in the vastness of Lake Powell, basking in the sun and breathing that clear air, it seems impossible that carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning could be a threat. Yet, more than a dozen people have died on Lake Powell in the last few years as a result of CO poisoning, mostly from the fumes produced by houseboat generators and boat engines. An especially dangerous area is near the rear of the boat, where carbon monoxide can accumulate under and around the rear deck. Anyone swimming or playing near this area can be overcome in a matter of minutes. Don't allow anyone to swim or play near the rear deck while engines and/or generators are running, or for an hour after they've been turned off -- CO can hang around that long. Sometimes CO exhaust can literally be sucked back into a boat that is underway, in what is called the "station wagon effect." Be aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning (which can include headaches, dizziness, weakness, sleepiness, nausea, and disorientation), as well as the conditions under which CO poisoning is possible.
Boat Rentals -- Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas rents powerboats of all sizes, from two-passenger personal watercraft to luxurious 75-foot houseboats.
Late spring through early fall is the best time to be on the water, and consequently the most expensive: Rates for houseboats that sleep up to 12 people range from $2,410 to $5,400 for 4 days, or $3,533 to $9,499 for 7 days. Rates are considerably lower -- sometimes by as much as 40% -- in winter. Rates for small fishing boats, ski boats, and personal watercraft range from $138 to $330 per day. Ask about packages that include boat rentals plus lodging, houseboats with smaller powerboats, and powerboats with water-skiing equipment. Nonmotorized water toys are also available for rent. Most types of boats, although not necessarily all sizes, are available at Wahweap, Bullfrog, Halls Crossing, and Hite marinas. We strongly recommend making reservations well in advance.
You can sometimes get lower rates away from the marinas. In Page, stop at H2O-Zone PWC Rentals & Repairs, 136 Sixth Ave. (tel. 928/645-3121; www.powellzone.com), which offers powerboats and personal watercraft. About 12 miles northwest of Page in Big Water, Utah, is Skylite Boat Rentals, at U.S. 89 Mile Marker 6 (tel. 888/575-9548 or 435/675-3795; www.skylite.net), offering water toys -- there are some great tubes that kids will love -- and a range of powerboats.
Generally, anybody who can drive a car can pilot a boat. The only tricks are learning to compensate for wind and currents. Be sure to spend a few minutes practicing turning and stopping; boats don't have brakes! No lessons or licenses are required; the marinas supply all the equipment you'll need and offer some training as well.
Boat Tours -- Year-round boat tours will take you to those hidden areas of the lake that you might never find on your own. Options range from 1-hour trips ($15 adults, $12 children 11 and under) to all-day tours to Rainbow Bridge (about $115 per adult, $75 per child; including lunch). Ask about sunset and dinner cruises, half-day trips to Rainbow Bridge, float trips, and numerous packages that combine tours with lodging and/or RV spaces. For information and reservations, contact Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.