National Park Road Trip 2011: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell Resort

Visit Lake Powell Resort at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and one thing you can do is drive across the bridge that parallels the dam creating Lake Powell to catch a view of the massive reservoir upstream and the Colorado River downstream. The resort itself offers rooms in a series of buildings facing the reservoir. Photos by David and Kay Scott.

Editor's note: True, May might be a bit early to visit Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, but David and Kay Scott, on the road to update their book, The Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges, found the month perfect for a stop there.

Hello from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We just completed a two-night stay at Lake Powell Resort, an ARAMARK facility near Page, Arizona. Although not yet in the period considered high-season, the lodge seems to be doing a brisk business, especially from tours.

The French seem to love this place, as their accents were plentiful and frequently heard during our stay. The other day we talked with a tour bus driver who told us he loves his job because every day is like a vacation.

The weather couldn’t be better, with moderate temperatures and very sunny skies. The landscape here is simply amazing. The recreation area’s centerpiece is Lake Powell, a massive body of water created in the late 1950s by the Glen Canyon Dam just outside Page. The lake reached its highest level in the early 1980s and has since been falling until it is now down 83 feet.

The long-term lack of moisture from Colorado River drainage to the north is being somewhat offset by this year’s large snowmelt and the lake level is currently rising by 5 to 6 inches per day. It is expected that by the end of the season the lake will have risen an additional 34 feet.

Lake Powell is dotted with marinas, including Wahweap that is part of the resort where we were staying. Additional marinas are nearby at Antelope Point and north where the recreation area extends up into Utah until it meets Canyonlands National Park.

While all types of water-based activities are available, Lake Powell is particularly noted as a place to enjoy houseboating. As you will see in the videos, some of the houseboats are monsters.

Lake Powell Resort (formerly Wahweap) consists of eight virtually identical, adobe-style buildings constructed on a peninsula. The resort offers 348 rooms in three basic categories. Ten suites and junior suites are also available. The least-expensive “Traditional” rooms rent for $116 to $156 per night, depending on season. These rooms face parking areas and do not offer views of the lake. Those on the opposite side of the buildings with a lake view cost an additional $20.

Two newer buildings offer more upscale rooms with nicer furnishings at $60 more per night on the lake side. The price difference for this latter category is reduced during the off-season. All the resort’s rooms were updated between 2010 and 2011.

The other morning we talked at length with Jason Urtubey, general manager of the lodge, who was kind enough to explain some of the changes that have taken place and that are planned. Jason came here from an ARAMARK operation in Alaska.

We find the rooms here to be quite comfortable, and especially enjoy sitting on the balcony or patio and enjoying the views. The facility has two swimming pools, an exercise room with sauna, a sports shop, and an attractive restaurant and adjoining lounge. The restaurant has a wall of windows that allows diners an excellent view of the lake and surrounding landscape.

Dinner prices range from a $9 sandwich to a $32 steak. Food is also served in the lounge, while pizza and sandwiches are available at a separate grill.

During our second night we drove to Antelope Point where Forever Resorts, another concessionaire with many national park operations, operates a floating restaurant and large marina in a different area of the national recreation area. No lodging other than houseboats is currently at Antelope Point, but it appears that plans are afoot for a hotel at some point in the future.

In the meantime we enjoyed one excellent pizza at the floating restaurant.

Many visitors to Lake Powell take advantage of one of several boat tours offered by the resort. One popular tour leads 50 miles northeast to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the world’s largest natural bridge. We took this cruise during our last stay. Rainbow Bridge is an amazing site, especially at close range. Other tours go to Antelope and Navajo canyons. A dinner cruise is offered four nights per week.

We have driven 2,900 miles through eight states since departing home a little over two weeks ago. Our next dispatch will come from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, where we will stay two nights. We always look forward to visiting the North Rim, though this year there is a possibility of snow, a frightening thought for two South Georgia crackers.

Comments

Thank you Dave and Kay for that helpful information, we are planning a similiar trip to lake Powell, which I've never seen, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Have you ever been to the slot canyons around Page?

Glen Canyon NRA also has outstanding roadless areas that are popular for hiking and float trips. The National Park Service has recommended 589,000 acres (47 percent of the total area) for designation as wilderness. Information on hiking routes can be found in guidebooks such as "Utah Hiking" by Buck Tilton and "Wild Utah" by Bill Cunningham and Polly Burke. The NRA is contiguous with BLM public lands that are also roadless and wild, and it adjoins roadless areas of Canyonlands National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Capitol Reef National Park.