Red Red Walls – Lake Powell


A good friend of ours was passing through northern Arizona and suggested that we come meet her at Lake Powell. Other than swiftly passing by on our move down here, we hadn’t done any exploring of the lake or surrounding area & its definitely been a place on my bucket list for awhile – so we said why not! Gave us an excuse to go!!!

Friday morning we hurried into the car and set out for a 6 hour drive straight north from Tucson. You forget how big Arizona actually is – in theory Lake Powell in the same state, can’t be too far right – wrong! And then as your driving you forget how fast the landscape goes from Sonoran desert to aspens & pines back to high desert in a blink of an eye.

We arrived at lake just after the sun had set early due to winter and it was dark. There were clouds in the sky blocking the stars and moon, so we had nothing to illuminate the unknown horizon beyond us. We found our camp site right on the beach that we were meeting our friend Claire, at and waited for her to arrive. She was there all day kayaking through the canyons and was now returning her kayak. John got a fire going with scrap wood found on the beach. We were very unprepared – we totally forgot firewood…and so did everyone else! Our friend ended up being 3 friends that she surprised us with – which one ended up being a good friend of Johns from high school, so that was a fun surprise! We sat around our bitty fire that magically kept going all night, hardly putting out any heat and caught up with our friends til about midnight. The clouds slowly dissipated and the moon began to rise, teasing us with our camp view. We could barely see the outline of distant desert towers and canyon walls. We headed to bed eager to wake up and check out the view.

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Morning came and as the sun rose, the horizon around us began to reveal itself. The sky lit with cotton candy blue, pink and purple, revealing those distant towers and walls we saw last night and then quickly turned to orange and magenta. Theres just something about sunsets and sunrises out here in the desert. As the sun began to heat the camp, we were now able to see scattered firewood so much better in the light and got another fire going! After awhile our friends were headed on to their next destination and John and I set out to explore Lake Powell for the day! We got our kayaks, loaded up and set out for a perfect day.

And a perfect day it was.

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You enter the lake at the boat launch. The lake is wide at this point and the walls aren’t super tall. The water is crystal clear and as your paddling, you see rock slabs beneath you glimmer in the light like they are a foot below you and then quickly disappear and drop off darkness. The first part of the trek, you’re just figuring out the paddle kinks. We’re not kayakers – we don’t go that often – so there’s always this little learning curve like jumping back on a bike after a while – its awkward.

20 minutes or so later we see the sign for the antelope canyon entrance. This is by far the most famous canyon in Lake Powell so if you go, I suggest going in the off season to avoid crowds! Luckily thats what we did and we only saw a few people all day!

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As we entered the canyon the walls began to creep higher and higher on either side and began to saturate themselves with deep reds and oranges. I swear the higher the wall the deeper the color got. The canyon began to wind and turn and we started loosing the sun in some sections because it began to narrow. We chased the sun – the temp was at least 10 degrees colder in the shade. We’d paddle paddle paddle through the shade sections and bask and float through the sun.

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At one point we even pulled off and jumped in! It was exhilarating. The water was cold, but it was slow moving water so nothing like a river cold. After jumping in and just hanging on the side drying off before we started moving again, a group of kayakers passed us all bundled up in puffy coats, beanies & gloves looking at us like we were crazy. It was quite hilarious as we were standing there in our undies basically.

The winding turns of the canyon filled with water eventually run out and you do the rest of the trip on foot. So we parked the kayak on the cold muddy muddy ground, changed into warmer clothes as now basically everything was going to be in the shade and then began exploring. I do have to mention, theres only one way in and one way out so its not like you can get lost.

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Around every turn our jaw dropped further and further at the astonishment of the formations. The winded and turned and grew bigger and deeper in color. We walked for about 45 minutes or so and I don’t think we even made it half way to the end!! Our eyes were so stimulated from the waves in the rock, they were so mesmerizing and captivating. I just kept thinking to myself, how? How in the world was this created? It was truly magical.

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Eventually we just became a wee bit cold and found a semi-flat rock just basking in the sun. We laid out our wet clothes from jumping in and then found ourselves laying out next to them as well. We just laid there for quite awhile. It was so quiet, so warm and so peaceful – so peaceful, we both even caught a little snooze.

A while later the sun had moved on our from our napping pad and that meant it was time to go. We were on a bit of a time schedule to make it back out of the canyon before dark – not someplace I’d like to be stuck in at night without a headlamp!

We headed back out the same way we came in, still in awe around even turn and bend, made it back to the kayak and set out. I think I could visit that place over and over again and still never get tired of the formations and waves of the rock. The last leg of the kayak jaunt began to wear on us. We were tired and our inexperienced paddle arms were telling us! But we made it! We loaded up the kayak, set out for town.

After a perfect day like that, the only thing left to top it off was a good meal. Normally we would cook a glamorous camp meal… but as the most unprepared folk ever, we forgot the propane to our propane stove… and to be honest we didn’t really feel up to cooking. So we grabbed a burger at a restaurant and called it good. Wait scratch that – John wasn’t satisfied with his burger so he pulled his first “bang bang” Definition of a bang bang you ask? Bang Bang-  when you order a meal at a restaurant but it just didn’t satiate the way you hoped so you head to another restaurant and order the same thing. So thats what we did and it was so much better than the first!

After the bang bang, we got firewood and headed back to camp. This time the sky was clear and the stars were nothing short of spectacular. We sat around our fire, necks cocked back looking up and just reminisced the perfect, perfect day.

If you ever get a chance to go to Lake Powell I highly suggest you do, it quickly became one of the coolest adventures I’ve yet to do! We camped at Lone Rock Beach – this is in the national park so please be a decent citizen and pay your dues! This is primitive camping – so no electrical hook ups, they do have bathrooms but they are quite a far walk! We did the Antelope Canyon and just rented a double kayak in town! This hike is actually very easy and flat to do! There are a few sections where you will have to scramble and climb, but they are a decent way into the canyon. So if you are planning on going with someone who has trouble with scrambling – know the first portion of the hike is still doable – you just won’t be able to make it all the way to the end!!

Happy exploring and please, never never never leave your trash!!! Leave no trace! 🙂

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