Lake Powell, created by the Glen Canyon Dam, stills remains a controversy even after 50 years of existence. The authorization of the Colorado River Storage Project Act by Congress on April 11, 1956 initiated the construction of Glen Canyon Dam, the key unit of one of the most extensive and complex river resource developments in the world. After 16 years of filling the Colorado River, on June 22, 1980, Lake Powell reached an elevation of 3,700 feet, with a total capacity of over 26 million acre-feet of water (1). This “pool” opened access to some of the most remote parts of southeast Utah, while also burying an immense labyrinth of canyons. The drainages which remained above “full pool,” were for many decades visited by only a few “gorgers” and “canyoneers,” and the bulk of visitation happened by “bottom-up” hikers accessing them from their boats.
The variation in Powell’s elevation in the last two decades and the advancement of canyoneering skill sets, specifically ghosting techniques, have led to many amazing “first” documented descents of casual to epic slot canyons along Lake Powell’s shore.
Glen Canyon is not just lake Powell though, its reach connects to hundreds of miles of shoreline in Navajo Nation Tribal Parks, Grand Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capital Reef National Park, Ticaboo, and Escalante National Monument.
(1) US Bureau of Reclamation
Trip Planning and Logistics
A visit to Glen Canyon requires thorough trip planning, self-rescue competency, and an intimate knowledge of Leave No Trace® and ghosting techniques such as the SandTrap, Fiddle Stick, high-stemming, pothole escape, etc. Glen Canyon NRA, as well as the Navajo Tribal Parks forbid placement of fixed anchors supporting the previous competencies. Please visit the other associated links to Glen Canyon for the full scope of access, permit, and emergency info, as you may be in or through the adjacent regions when accessing remote Glen Canyon by land. • Glen Canyon Map
Boating is by far the most logistically expensive aspect of lakeside canyoneering, but also incredibly rewarding. Vast slickrock ramps, hidden arches and variable canyon riches make the burdensome cost of operating boats on the lake well worth it.
Bullfrog Marina is the most popular departure ramp for lakeside canyoneering, but launching from Stateline, Wahweap, and Antelope Point Marinas is a viable and convenient option. Hite Marina is a seldom used option. Boat rental information can be found here:
Canyons within the boundary of Glen Canyon NRA, which includes all shoreline to the North side of the lake, as well as all shoreline up to 3700 feet in elevation on the South shores adjacent to Navajo Tribal Park lands are free to access and require no permits or camping fees. Glen Canyon limits visits to 14 days or less, with at least a one day break in between as well as trailering your boat and exiting the park. Any Tribal Park lands accessed must be by permit – Navajo Nation Parks.
Permits and Fees:
Permits can be obtained in person at the Page area at the LeChee Chapter House off Coppermine Road. Permits are $5/person/day, PLUS $5/person/night for camping on tribal lands. Navajo Tribal Parks only accept cash payments for backcountry permits unless bought via US Mail 30 days in advance. Permits can be bought up to 6 months in advance via mail with a Money Order and self-supplied prepaid return envelope. Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation Information
• 24-hour Emergency Response: Call 911
• Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Emergency: 1-800-338-7888
• Arizona State Patrol: 1-800-525-5555
• Kane County, UT Sheriff: 24 Hour Dispatch Toll Free 1-877-644-2349
• Garfield County, UT Sheriff: (435) 676-2678
• Wahweap-Glen Canyon Recreation Area Emergencies: (928) 608-6200
• NPS, Bullfrog Marina: (435) 684-7400
• Navajo Nation Ranger Headquarters: (928) 871-2111
• UHF Radio Channel 9 and 16.
Nearest Medical Facility:
Bullfrog Urgent Care Clinic
• Bullfrog Basin, Lake Powell, UT 84533
• (435) 684-2242
Page, AZ Hospital
• 501 N Navajo Dr, Page, AZ 86040
• (928) 645-2424
American Canyoneers Access contact: Jonathan Zambella