Lake Powell is one of the most impressive sights in the Southwest. Nestled on the Arizona-Utah border, the lake has over 250 square miles of surface area – making it the country’s second-largest manmade lake. It’s a huge recreation and tourism spot, attracting around 2 million visitors each year.
Lake Powell isn’t your typical country lake. Check out an aerial view (or Google Maps) and you’ll see an undulating, river-like body of water with branches that stretch out like tangled tree roots. Because the lake has so many nooks and crannies – 96 named slot canyons in total! – houseboating is particularly popular here. As you pilot your Forever Houseboat around the next corner, keep an eye out for these three hidden sites.
Face Canyon’s Secret Cavern: Face Canyon isn’t exactly well-hidden. The 4-mile-long section of Lake Powell is located 18 miles from Antelope Point Marina, just north of the border between states. It takes less than three hours to get there by houseboat. The main canyon stays relatively quiet and calm throughout most of the year, but the real gems are tucked into the canyon’s smaller offshoots. One unnamed slot canyon is so narrow and shallow that you’ll have to kayak or wade in. According to visitors, its walls are 100-200 ft. tall sheer cliffs painted in undulated reddish brown waves.
Willow Gulch: Fifteen years ago, Willow Gulch was a waterlogged pile of sediment. Once home to some of the most beautiful tress and rock formations in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the massive canyon was flooded when a dam was constructed in the 1960s. As the water level declined over time, Willow Gulch was slowly revealed. By 2004, the bottom of the canyon was fully revealed. The waters have since risen a bit, but several miles of Willow Gulch remain walkable. Look for lovely cottonwood groves and flowering vegetation that attracts native deer in temperate months.
Hanging Garden: Lush foliage may seem like a luxury in the high desert, but Lake Powell and the Colorado River produce a surprising amount of hidden greenery. This hike requires car access and walking, so you’ll have to drop anchor for the day and do a side trip. Take Highway 89 towards Page, AZ to the turnoff one-quarter mile east of Glen Canyon Bridge. Park at the trailhead, about 500 yards from the highway and across the bridge from the Visitor Center. There you’ll find a trail leading to a Navajo sandstone mesa. Natural spring water seeps through the rock to create a gorgeous hanging garden that’s home to native flora and fauna.
Houseboating on Lake Powell provides the opportunity for epic adventures. There’s 2000 miles of shoreline to explore, with new canyons and bridges exposed every time water levels drop. In the rainy season (late summer to early fall), flooding creates breathtaking waterfalls. Pilot your houseboat towards one of our recommended sites and have your camera handy as you explore Lake Powell’s hidden gems.