Utah And Arizona are states you could travel around for years and still not see all they have to offer. When Linda and I originally talked about going to visit Page to see the slot canyons, I had no idea just how epic it would be. Our destination for the area was Lone Rock Campground with gorgeous views of Lake Powell.
The Lake is actually a reservoir on the Colorado River perched on the border of Utah and Arizona. It's the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States behind Lake Mead. The terrain is desert-like with massive rock structures in abundance. The lake itself almost seems unexpected, at odds with its otherwise arid environment. Nonetheless, to me it was fertile ground to capture some photographs.
Lone Rock, a gigantic mass, looms up from the water and changes its form depending on the angle of the sun. Being there felt as remote as some of the far reaches of our Alaskan adventure. I can't really explain it in words but the whole experience took my breath away and I was completely hooked.
I'm not the only one spellbound by the Lake Powell area. Just ask Hollywood. The surrounding landscape is reminiscent of some imagined barren planet at the edge of the universe and continues to attract movie makers far and wide. Many films you may know have been shot here, including; The Greatest Story Ever Told, Planet of the Apes, Gravity and, most recently, one of my favorite TV shows, Westworld.
So, with all of that in mind, we arrived at Lone Rock Campground, right on the banks of Lake Powell. All sites are boondocking only and it's also first come first serve. There is a dump station with potable water near the entrance which we availed of twice while there. We decided to put our jacks down at the top of the hill overlooking the lake and beach instead of driving down to the water's edge. After a pretty nasty windstorm moved in a few days later engulfing the beach with airborne sand, we were even happier with our choice.
The campsite is only a short distance from Page in Arizona. And let me tell you, there is an hour difference between our campground and Page and, unless you actually know about the time zone, it's easy to get royally confused by all the flip flopping.
We fell victim to this fissure in time when we went to visit one of the biggest attractions in the area: Upper Antelope Canyon. We had booked a tour in advance and were instructed to arrive absurdly early. Being the conscientious people we are, we arrived on time at what felt like the crack of dawn. There was no one around and we thought to ourselves, cool, we have the whole tour to ourselves. That was before we realized we had arrived an hour early because of the time zone difference. So, in effect, we were there two hours before the tour started. Brilliant!
When we finally got going, however, it was well worth the wait. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon and hugely popular for photographers and sightseers. There is an upper and a lower canyon. The most popular is the Upper Canyon so that's the one we decided to visit.
Your experience can vary greatly depending on what time of the day you go, the weather, how many tourists are there and the personality of your guide. While our guide was nothing to write home about, we did manage to see some beautiful sights in the canyon. Despite the crowds (and there were a lot of people), keeping our cameras facing upwards allowed us to capture some nice shots. We appreciated the fact that our guide directed us to the best spots and was willing to take the photos if we liked.
I wasn't too concerned about the crowds because I had also booked a tour to the same canyon specifically for photographers and that afforded me much better access to the famed light shafts. I wrote a separate blog post about my experience on my photography site about that tour here.
We ended up staying at Lone Rock Campground for a total of 9 days. That was longer than we had planned but extreme winds and cold had dictated that we change our plans for our upcoming stay at Bryce Canyon National Park. Our original plan was to camp at Red Canyon Campground which is just a few miles from the park but, alas, that was not meant to be. At the same time, we weren’t really complaining because even hanging out in Scoopy staring out the window, the views were just breathtaking.
We decided to drive to Bryce for the day while still at Lone Rock. Let's call it a reconnaissance. When we have the opportunity to visit an upcoming destination in advance, we generally take it. When we stopped at the visitor center, we were told that Red Canyon Campground was still closed for the season. Great! Not what we were expecting and we didn’t have a Plan B. The ranger pointed us to a couple of areas where we could boondock. We found a suitable place that was a favorite of horse owners. We were all set to go until, as I said, the weather changed the plan. Oh well, at least we got to see Bryce Canyon albeit briefly but I guess we'll come back another time.
During our stay at Lone Rock we managed to visit a few other places around the area including Horseshoe Bend (another place stricken from my bucket list) Glen Canyon Dam, Lees Ferry, Cave Dwellers and Vermillion Cliffs. We also caught up with our friends Lee and Tracy who opted to camp down by the beach. They were braver than us! Anyway, it was nice to exchange travel stories with them for Happy Hour.
There's just so much to do and see in this area, it's hard to cover it all in one visit. Lake Powell ranks in my top 5 favorite places and we'll definitely return the first chance we get.