Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Sea Kayaking

Lake Powell has over 1,900 miles of eccentric shoreline, offering surprisingly rich sea kayaking. If your thing is day hikes to Anasazi ruins, photographing natural arches, hanging out in the wilderness, or fishing, you will find it here. The best time of year to paddle is September to May. That's when the weather is at its best and the vacationing power boaters are back at their day jobs.

San Juan River
35 to 55 miles, 3 to 5 days
Level: Intermediate
For an abbreviated trip, put in at Mexican Hat, Utah, on Highway 163, just north of Monument Valley. The pullout is at Clay Hills Crossing. The river is full of Class II and III rapids. Don't miss side hikes to the Goosenecks Overlook, Slickhorn Canyon, and Grand Gulch. Grand Gulch is an outdoor museum of Anasazi ruins and art. For the full trip, put in at Bluff, Utah, at the intersection of Highways 163 and 191. When the water level of Lake Powell is low, there may be a waterfall, which must be portaged before the last few miles of flatwater paddling to Clay Hills.

Lee's Ferry
13 miles, 1 day
Level: Easy
The current is slow enough that you can paddle upstream from eddy to eddy if you're in good shape. Or, you can offer the raft pilots from ARA a tip to give you a lift upstream after they lose their half-day passengers at 10 a.m. each morning. Or, you can hire a fishing guide at Lee's Ferry to give you a lift up to the dam for the downstream float. Take your fishing pole, the trout fishing is more than excellent along here.

Wahweap Bay
Distance: 1 to 10 miles, 1 hour to all day
Level: Easy to Advanced
You can launch at the Chains, the Swim Beach, the Coves Day-Use Area, Wahweap Marina, Stateline Marina, or Lone Rock Beach. Wahweap Bay is one of the largest on Lake Powell. Accordingly, people are not scarce during the season (May to September), but the place is a paddler's dream during the rest of the year. The shoreline of Wahweap Bay consists of side canyons, cliffs, and sandy beaches ripe for exploring. You can hike to Wiregrass Bridge, Wahweap Windows, the Sand King, and Antelope Island when you need a break from paddling. If the wind comes up, head for Wiregrass Canyon or Antelope Island. From Wiregrass, you can follow the shoreline back to the marina, avoiding the roughest water, and it is a short crossing from Antelope Island back to Wahweap Marina or the Chains.

Navajo Canyon
Distance: 15 to 40 miles, 1 to 4 days
Level: Intermediate
This is one of the most scenic canyons on Lake Powell. It also offers great hiking and bike riding possibilities. The best place to put in is Antelope Point. Other options are the Chains and Wahweap Marina. The back of Navajo Canyon leads to Choal Falls.

Crosby Canyon
Distance: 5 to 10 miles, 5 hours to 3 days
Level: Easy
Drive north on Highway 98 to Big Water, Utah. Turn right on Main Street (Highway 12) and drive into the GCNRA. Turn right at the Crosby Canyon turn-off and follow the canyon to a beach in the back of Lake Powell's Warm Creek Bay. Warm Creek is lined with sandy beaches for camping. Also, by putting in here, you can avoid major power boat traffic and bad weather on Wahweap Bay, the roughest body of water on the lake when the wind blows.

Antelope Canyon
Distance: 3 miles, 3 to 8 hours
Level: Easy
Antelope Canyon is a typical narrow, twisting Lake Powell canyon, perfect for exploring by sea kayak. Put in at either Antelope Point or the Chains.

San Juan Arm
1 to 50 miles, 3 to 5 days
Level: Intermediate
The San Juan arm of Lake Powell is as good or better than the Escalante Arm. In addition to houseboat trips, this major canyon with its extensive hiking opportunities can be reached overland by four-wheel-drive vehicle at Clay Hills Crossing, Piute Farms Wash, Copper Canyon, Piute Canyon, and Trail Canyon. A long trip in this area ought to include a visit to Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural bridge in the world.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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