Arizona

Glen Canyon National Recreational Area Visitor’s Guide

There is nowhere else on Earth that is quite like the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  Imagine a large, beautiful blue lake in the middle of a gorgeous red sandstone landscape.  The rock formations along the lake, and even sticking out of the lake in some places, are absolutely breathtaking.  The contrast between those orange and red rock formations and the crystal blue water of Lake Powell is mesmerizing.

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Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream land.  In the summer months it is a mecca for boaters from all over the country and the world.  Some people spend months camped out along-side the shores of the lake.  There is no shortage of things to do in the area, so there is never a dull moment.

In this guide, I am going to give you some tips on how to get to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the best time to visit the area, some valuable resources to help plan your trip, and review some of my favorite places within Glen Canyon.

How to Get There

The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a very large area.  The conservation area stretches from the border of Canyonlands National Park in the Eastern half of Southern Utah all the way down to Page, Arizona.  In addition to being in close proximity to Canyonlands National Park (which I will be writing about in the coming weeks), it is also close to Capitol Reef National Park, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, and the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument.

Glen Canyon Area Map.png

Best Time to Visit

Because the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is such a large area, the weather varies some from location-to-location.  Below I have listed the average temperatures and precipitation levels for the Page, Arizona area to give you some guidance on what to expect at different times of the year.  While this may vary somewhat throughout the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, it will be somewhat similar.

During the summer months, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell can get pretty congested with summer vacationers and boaters.  The weather can be quite hot in the area during the summer, so getting out on the lake is a great way to beat the heat.  It is an absolutely stunning lake and a great place to spend the day boating.

In the winter months the crowds really thin out as the temperatures can get quite cool at times.  If you aren’t looking to get out on the lake and would like to avoid the summer crowds, then this can be a great time to visit.

Average Temperature (°F)

Horseshoe Average Temp

Average Precipitation (Inches)

Horseshoe Bend Average Precipitation

Resources

There is so much to see and do in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  To assist you with your planning, I have provided a number of different planning resources for you to refer to below.

Top Things to See and Do

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area sits in some of the most beautiful land in the United States, and there is no shortage of beautiful sights to see and fun things to do.  Below is a list of some of the top things I would recommend to do in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Horseshoe Bend

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If you haven’t read my visitor’s guide for Horseshoe Bend, I would strongly suggest you check it out.  Horseshoe Bend is an amazing and beautiful place that is worth checking out.  Just make sure you be careful when you visit please!

Travel-1733 Horseshoe Bend Visitor’s Guide

Antelope Canyon

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Antelope Canyon is another beautiful place in the area that I have written about in the past.  If you haven’t checked out my visitor’s guide for Antelope Canyon, this is a must read.  Antelope Canyon is quickly becoming one of the biggest tourism draws in the Southwest United States.  It is an incredibly beautiful place.

Travel-1733 Antelope Canyon Visitor’s Guide

Alstrom Point

Alstrom Point

One of the best places to view Lake Powell and get some really fantastic pictures is from Alstrom Point.  This viewpoint offers some of the most breathtaking views of Lake Powell.  I have included a map below on how to get to Alstrom Point.  Please be aware that a majority of the roadway is gravel road and get can pretty rough at certain points.

To get to Alstrom Point, you are going to take highway 89 North from Page, Arizona for 17 miles until you get to Big Water, Utah.  Then, you are going to want to turn right onto Ethan Allen.  This turn will take you into an industrial complex of sorts.  You will want to keep straight until you are able to turn right onto NP 230.  Stay on NP 230 for roughly 15 miles until you get to NP 264, which will come at a fork in the road.  Stay right to turn onto NP 264, which will take you the rest of the way to the viewpoint.

Alstrom Point Map.png

Hole-in-the-Rock Area

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If you have read some of my visitor guides for attractions within the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, you are probably familiar with the Hole-in-the-Rock.  The Hole-in-the-Rock road stretches from Escalante, Utah in the north down to the shore of Lake Powell inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

The name Hole-in-the-Rock was given to the large rock formation that guards access to the Lake Powell area, but is accessible via a hole (more like a gap) in the rock (shown in the picture above).  The Hole-in-the-Rock trail used to be used by settlers of the Western United States and the Hole-in-the-Rock provided safe passage through an otherwise difficult terrain.

Today, the Hole-in-the-Rock road is one of the most popular tourist roads\trails in the American Southwest.  Along this road you can see a ton of really cool geological rock formations, slot canyons, and partake in a number of really fun hikes.  Be aware that this road is a gravel, not paved, road and can be really tough in some locations (especially if it rains).

Hole in the Rock Area Map

Lone Rock Beach

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Lone Rock Beach is one of my favorite spots in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  if you are looking for a great beach to chill out, do some paddle boarding or kayaking, or to do some beach camping, then this beach is for you.  The price for entrance is $25 per car and it will cost you $14\night to camp out there, but it is a gorgeous location.

Lone Rock Beach Directions Map.png

To get to Lone Rock Beach, take highway 89 North from Page, Arizona until you get to Lone Rock Road.  Take a right onto Lone Rock Road and the beach will be at the end of the roadway.  There aren’t any marked campsites, but you are able to camp out right down on the beach.  There are toilets (both vault and microflush) by the beach.

When driving down on the beach, make sure you steer clear of areas with really soft sand.  It is very easy to get your vehicle stuck on the beach if you aren’t careful.  I typically try and stay where I have seen that others have driven so that I know the ground isn’t too soft.

Lone Rock Beach.jpg

Glen Canyon Dam Overlook

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Gorgeous Lake Powell was created by the Glen Canyon Dam that sits in Page, Arizona.  It is a really cool dam that is worth checking out if you are in the area.  You can drive over the dam to get a better view, and a walking path that you can use to really get up-close-and-personal with the dam.

If you decide to stop at the dam, the Carl Hayden Visitor Center is really neat.  There are a lot of educational displays that explain how the dam was made and how it works.  If you are looking for some hiking in the area, the Hanging Garden trail is a really popular one.  If you are looking for some more extreme adventure, the Ropes Trail is a steep (emphasis on steep) trail down the canyon walls into Glen Canyon.

Glen Canyon Dam Map.png

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge.jpg

The Rainbow Bridge National Monument is an absolutely fantastic natural rock bridge that sits within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  Like Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, if you are in the area, this is an absolute must see.  It is the world’s largest natural rock bridge and is truly a beautiful sight to behold.

Rainbow Bridge is fairly difficult to get to, as there are no roads that will take you anywhere near the national monument.  The best way to get to Rainbow Bridge is by boat on Lake Powell.  If you don’t have your own boat, you can purchase a boat tour of the Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

If you aren’t interested in taking a boat ride, you can access the Rainbow Bridge National Monument on foot.  Keep in mind, it is a long 14-mile hike thru the desert, so make sure you are up for the hike before you undertake it.  The hike is rated as moderately strenuous to strenuous, so it isn’t a hike designed for beginners. If you decide you would like to take this hike, please not that you will have to get a permit to cross the Navajo land before undertaking it.

Rainbow Bridge Area Map.jpg

Lake Powell Kayaking and Paddle Boarding

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One of the best things to do in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is get out on the waters of Lake Powell.  This beautiful lake has some of the best boating in the American Southwest.

While it can get a bit crowded in the summer months, it is a lot of fun.  If you don’t have your own motor boat to use, and you would like to get out on the water and get a bit of exercise, then kayaks or paddle boats might be right up your alley.  I have listed a number of resources below for renting kayaks and paddle boats in Glen Canyon.

Photo Gallery

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a vacationer’s paradise.  Below is a gallery of some of the beautiful pictures I have taken of this beautiful place over my many visits.

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