A Camping and Kayaking Weekend in Lake Powell
Updated: Sep 22, 2022
Kayak into the remote back-side of Antelope Canyon, beach camp with lake views, and try out mountain biking. This is an adventure-packed itinerary that showcases the best of the Lake Powell area.
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Kayak to Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is a popular slot canyon in Arizona. It is known for the surreal photography it creates when sunlight hits its narrow red walls causing a glowing effect. Typically you access the canyon via a tour on land. I recommend accessing the canyon from the other side via kayak. There are significantly fewer crowds when you kayak to the other side and the kayak route itself is beautiful.
The land access side is even more narrow, so it has more sections where the light catches the canyon walls to create the glowing effect. I included a couple of pictures from a previous trip of the guided walking tour side of Antelope Canyon below so that you can compare.
There are three options for kayaking in Antelope Canyon:
1.Bring Your Own Kayak
My friends and I brought our own inflatable kayaks. There are numerous inexpensive inflatable kayaks available now. Renting kayaks a couple times quickly adds up to the cost of buying one. We also used our kayaks multiple times on this trip. If you are bringing your own kayak, bring life jackets as well, as they are required in the National Recreation Areas.
2. Rent Kayaks
Rentals are available with Lake Powell Paddle Boards. They offer a service where they drop off and pick up your kayak directly from the boat ramp, so you don’t have to worry about transporting it. Note that the boat ramp access point is in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, so if you have a National Park Pass, bring it. The kayak rentals start at $45 per day.
3. Take a Guided Tour
Hidden Canyon Kayaks offers guided tours for just the kayak portion of the canyon. They do not allow their groups to hike after kayaking. The tours cost $99 per person.
The Kayaking Experience
Whether you are renting a kayak or bringing your own, start your day early to beat the
heat and the crowds. Antelope Canyon is narrow for much of the hike, so fewer crowds
means you don’t have to regularly wait for other hikers to pass. The kayak ride is 3.5 miles to reach the canyon (so 7 miles round trip) and can take up to 2 hours each way.
Drive to the Antelope Point Public Boat Ramp to unload and/or inflate your kayaks in the parking lot. Or head down to the ramp to pick up your rental kayaks.
When you launch off the boat ramp, take a left to head towards Antelope Canyon. Kayak left around the bend in the wide part of the river (In this section of the river, there can be boat traffic and jet skis causing slight waves. If you go early or on a weekday, there is less boat traffic.) Eventually you will see an entrance to a more narrow white? canyon on your left—this is your entrance to Antelope Canyon. The water in this section is calm and quiet. Kayak in Antelope Canyon as far as possible until the water ends, and park your kayak on the beach area there. There will likely be other kayaks parked there already.
This is where you begin hiking in the canyon. The hike is completely flat, but does require scrambling and maneuvering in a few narrow sections. The first section is wider, so walk in for at least 20 minutes to reach the narrower section for views of the light glowing on the walls. You can hike further if you want, but keep in mind that you have a 3.5 mile kayak ride to get back. We packed snacks for a break while hiking in the canyon. Or, for a break during your return kayak ride, you can stop at one of the small inlets along the water.
Bike the Page Rimview Trail and Visit Horseshoe Bend
Bike the Page Rimview Trail
The Page Rimview Trail is a 9.8 mile loop trail with only 433 feet in elevation gain. Offering great views looking down on Lake Powell from the canyon rim, it is popular with both bikers and hikers.
For someone new to mountain biking, this trail is a relatively easy option—there are only a couple sections where a beginner may want to get off the bike and walk.
If you want to mountain bike, rent bikes in town with Rim Trail Bike Rentals. It is $40/day to rent a bike from them. Their shop is located within a short bike ride of the trailhead so you don’t have to worry about transporting the bikes. The trail is a loop that offers views looking down on Lake Powell from the canyon rim above.
In the afternoon, drive 10 minutes from Page to see Horseshoe Bend, where the brightly colored waters of the Colorado River curve around a rock formation. You’ll have an easy 1.4 mile out and back hike to reach the viewpoint. It’s a well-maintained path with no elevation gain. Expect crowds anytime you go—it’s a popular spot due to its accessibility. Parking at the viewpoint is $10 per car.
Photo Tip: The river and canyon photograph better in midday light, rather than at sunset or sunrise when the colors in the area appear more washed out.
Sunset Kayak Around Lone Rock
***As of Spring 2022 Lone Rock Canyon is dry due to draught. This kayak route is not an option.***
If you are camping near Lone Rock (see the Lodging section), and brought your own kayak or paddle board, I’d recommend spending one night going out for a short sunset kayak trip around the rock. From the water, looking back at the campground you can see the sunset and its reflections in the lake. Lone Rock itself also changes colors and glows as the sun sets. Occasionally you can see a purple sky around it.
You could also park your kayak at an inlet on the other side of the water opposite the campground on a beach where you can get out and watch the sunset from there. Bring drinks and snacks to have while watching the sunset show.
Kayak Lone Rock Canyon
***As of Spring 2022 Lone Rock Canyon is dry due to draught. This kayak route is not an option.***
Plan to kayak to Lone Rock Canyon first thing in the morning before the winds pick up—the kayaking will be easier and the lake surface will be glassy with reflections on the water. There isn’t much boat traffic in the area so the waters are calm outside of the wind conditions.
You can launch your kayak from the beach area in front of Lone Rock and kayak out to the left of the rock. It is only about a .75 mile kayak to the mouth of the canyon. It takes 20 minutes or so to reach it, depending on where you start along the campsite beach. If you are camping at the Lone Rock Campground, and brought your own kayak, starting this route is especially convenient!
Lone Rock has shorter walls than Antelope Canyon, so you will be looking for a less dramatic canyon entrance. In the canyon, you have the option to kayak another half mile until it dead ends. There are a few smaller side canyons to explore via kayak as well—each takes only a minute or two to get in and out. Where the water ends, park your kayak to explore the area on foot. There isn’t an actual trail to follow, but it’s worth exploring the area.
If you prefer, guided tours of Lone Rock Canyon are available with these companies:
In the afternoon relax and enjoy Lone Rock Beach.
Build an Itinerary
This itinerary works well as a stand alone long weekend trip. Our trip to the area was part of a longer Utah road trip that started with Moab, Arches and Canyonlands and then continued on to Zion and Bryce National Parks and Grand Staircase Escalante and Capitol Reef. Click on the links for blog posts for each of those areas as well. If you want to plan a longer 2-week Utah road trip check out this post on how to build the itinerary.
I recommend camping at the Lone Rock Beach Campground—it is my favorite of all the campgrounds where I have stayed! The campground is directly on the beach, next to the lake, with incredible views of Lone Rock. No reservations are required for the campground and it only costs $14 per night. You are allowed to set up anywhere on the beach—there are no assigned camp spots. Individual toilet outhouse stalls are located throughout the campground away from the water. However, there are no showers or full bathrooms.
We visited in the low season and were able to find a spot for our tent directly in front of Lone Rock. There was easy access for swimming and kayaking from our campsite, and we enjoyed the ever-changing views and colors of Lone Rock all day. The area is known for high winds, so be sure to weigh down your tent. A 4-wheel drive is recommended for driving on the sand to access the campsites.
I have heard that the high season can be a party scene on weekends, so you may want to strategize your campsite selection if you visit then.
If you plan to camp and bring your own kayak, you don’t need to book anything in advance for this trip! The bike rental shop in Page says that advanced reservations aren’t needed. If you want to rent a kayak or paddle board, or take a kayak tour, I recommend booking those in advance, especially for weekends in the summer months.
What to Wear and Pack for Lake Powell
What to Wear
Hiking sandals- To easily transition from kayak to hiking, hiking sandals are the best. They are waterproof and dry quickly, but also provide support for hiking.
What to Pack
A daypack for hiking- The Arc'teryx Index 15 is my favorite.
A drybag- This will allow you to pack snacks, a phone, etc and keep them dry while kayaking. Sea to Summit dry bags are my favorite.
Inflatable kayak and/or paddle board- The Intex Challenger is one of the most affordable inflatable kayak options.
Kayak paddle grips- These can be a lifesavers for longer kayak rides. They prevent blisters and burns on your hands.
See Planning a Weekend Camping Trip for what to pack if you are camping for this trip.
Where to Eat near Lake Powell
This fast-casual fried chicken restaurant has a large beer selection and a nice outdoor dining patio.
Big John’s offers traditional smoked brisket, ribs, pulled chicken and pork, all with homemade BBQ sauces and sides. It was the best meal we had in the area! Located in a converted old gas station, they have a large outdoor seating area which regularly features live music on the weekends.
R D’s Drive In
RD’s gave us a good reason to skip cooking breakfast at our campsite! They have a quick and easy drive-through with fresh breakfast sandwiches that are higher quality than your typical fast food breakfast.
To follow this itinerary you will need to rent a car or drive your own car.
When to Go
Rental companies, tour companies and some restaurants in this area close around October 31 for the season, and then reopen March 1. When we visited at the end of October, the water in Lake Powell was still warm enough for swimming, and it was perfect weather for kayaking and hiking.
The summer months are the most popular time to visit, and the weekend summer crowds create more of a party atmosphere on the Lake. I recommend visiting in the shoulder spring and fall months.
Trip Dates: October 2020
Article Updated: March 2021
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