Boondocking and Exploring in Page, Arizona

Time Traveling

We chose to stop at Page, Arizona for a few days between Grand Canyon NP and Snow Canyon State Park in Utah.  It split the drive up pretty well and also offers several great things to see and explore!

Page, AZ is right on the AZ/UT border.  Coming from the south, we drove from AZ into UT and then back into AZ to our spot.  Since Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time, this meant that our phones/devices were usually confused as to what time is was in our current location.

Speaking of drive, the route from the south rim of Grand Canyon NP to Page is filled with beautiful sights!  Driving through spectacular scenery became the norm as we continued through Utah.

The border between AZ and UT (we assume) – a short hike from our boondocking spot

There’s a NPS campground at Lake Powell’s Lone Rock Beach.  It’s part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  However, we decided to boondock across the street from the NRA on public land since the campground was primitive camping on the beach – we prefer to boondock instead of paying for a dry site in most cases.  At least when you have hookups it feels like your money is getting you something!

Our boondocking spot in Page, AZ.  We parked right next to a seasonally-used cattle stable and open range.
Another view of our spot.  You could see Lake Powell and Lone Rock (the rock itself) from our site.

Hannah and I both explored Glen Canyon NRA individually.  This was our first encounter with the weirdness that is the Utah landscape.  Utah is an amazingly beautiful state – one that blew both of us away – but its landscape is also just strange sometimes.

The Fox at Glen Canyon NRA in Page, AZ

There are dirt roads throughout as well as small canyons and interesting rock formations.

A small slot canyon near our spot

And lots of wildlife!  We saw several snakes, cows, and lots of reptiles of various sizes.

We also saw countless jack rabbits.  If you’re unfamiliar, the jack rabbit is the larger and seemingly more awkward cousin of a normal cottontail bunny rabbit.  It has giant ears and an interesting gait. It waits until you’re inches away before busting out of brush and sprinting away (which is why we don’t have any pictures to share).

I’ve realized that the jack rabbit is my spirit animal – tall, kind of awkward, has big ears, runs kind of funny –  hey, that’s me!

I encountered a mother and baby cow while exploring. I had to turn around since they were blocking the road.
A Glen Canyon local out for a stroll

 

Lone Rock Beach

While we didn’t stay at Lone Rock Beach, we did visit it.  It’s a NPS fee area (including day use) but our annual NPS pass got us in for free. (Have we mentioned how much we use and love that pass? It’s paid for itself many times over.)

It’s an interesting lake to visit – the stark white sand, layered rock and glistening blue water make a beautiful scene.  There was also a very steady, cold wind there – worse than at our spot – which made us happy we weren’t staying at the lake.

Calla exploring Lone Rock Beach

There’s a lot of area open to primitive camping here.  Many RVs were parked away from the water, probably to avoid the wind and blowing sand.  I’d imagine that this campground can get extremely busy during the summer but it was fairly empty during our visits.

Looking down the shore of Lone Rock Beach. Lots of waterfront primitive camping to be had.

One unexpected benefit of visiting Lone Rock Beach: access to their fresh water fill!  When we visited Lone Rock, we filled our Aqua-Tainers and dropped off our trash.  They also have a dump station but we obviously didn’t use it.

Score! Lone Rock Beach has a fresh water fill.

 

Horseshoe Bend

One attraction of Page, AZ is the overlook known as Horseshoe Bend.  It’s part of Glen Canyon NRA and has become pretty popular over the past 5-10 years (thanks, social media).  As such, the NPS is in the process of building an official overlook area with railings, etc. – but for now, it’s pretty much a rock cliff overlooking a bend in the Colorado River.

Walking up to the Horseshoe Bend overlook (of course she demanded we take the rocks instead of the path)

There’s a 1 mile (give or take) hike to the overlook.  We should have known what we were getting into – the parking lot was pretty much full and contained a decent number of tour buses.  The overlook was packed with tourists.

I guess word got out on Horseshoe Bend!

Pretty much the entire point of visiting Horseshoe Bend is to see the overlook and get a picture or two.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise that people were basically dangling over the cliff for a picture.  And at the same time they were ruining the picture for everyone else there.  We witnessed groups of tourists arguing with each other over who’s turn it was to go sit on the edge!  This was not our scene.

Let’s get a picture! Oh wait, someone is sitting right in the middle of it, dangling over the edge.  I bet his picture got so many likes online.
Okay, different angle. Ah, another cliff dangler…
Finally we got an opening. Time to leave.

While beautiful, Horseshoe Bend was pretty much ruined for us by overcrowding and pushy, rude tourists.  Perhaps it will be better managed once the NPS finishes their construction.  But probably not.

 

Antelope Canyon

Another popular, touristy thing to do in Page is hiking Antelope Canyon.  It’s a slot canyon on Navajo land that requires a guide to enter.  We chose to do a Dixie Ellis tour and ended up loving our tour guide, Alfredo.

Ready for our tour. That’s Calla’s happy face.

It’s not cheap, and you’re with a group of strangers, but it’s absolutely stunning!  Alfredo provided a lot of background info on the canyon and on Navajo tradition, history, and spirituality.  His input and narration was extremely interesting and was part of the reason we enjoyed the tour so much.  Try to go with Alfredo if you can!

The three of us in Antelope Canyon

If you’re considering doing Antelope Canyon, keep in mind that there are several sets of stairs, ladders, tight spots and low overhangs.

An example of the stairs encountered in the canyon

Backpacks are not allowed unless they’re kid-carriers or contain kid-specific stuff.  It’s not an easy walk, and having a child on your back obviously requires additional effort and caution.  I’m comfortable with our kid-carrier and know its limits and we did fine with it here.

Even Calla enjoyed the canyon

The tour was over an hour – the longest Calla had been in the pack up to this point – and she barely complained.  Even Calla was awed by Antelope Canyon’s wonder.

Hannah holding the canyon wall up
Alfredo also played the role of photographer for our group – thanks, Alfredo!
The light coming into Antelope Canyon gives some amazing visuals

 

Glen Canyon Dam

Our final outing in Page was a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam.  For whatever reason, visitors have to physically go to the office to sign up for the tour.  We stopped on our way through one afternoon and signed up for the next morning.

Lake Powell from the walls of Glen Canyon Dam

The dam is second in size only to the Hoover dam.  And not by much.  The Glen Canyon dam is huge – 1,500 feet across and 300 feet deep (that’s 300 feet of solid concrete) at the base.

Hannah and Calla in front of an old turbine electricity thing (that’s a technical term)

The scale is unreal!  It took over ten years to build and an absolutely massive amount of concrete.  They had to divert the Colorado River through the canyon walls during construction.  It’s mind-blowing to think about building something this large and visiting it helped it sink in.  The dam was completed in 1966 and only recently paid for itself via hydroelectricity.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Page and got to see some beautiful sites.  It was far more crowded than we expected but that only impacted us at Horseshoe Bend.  It’s a worthwhile stop and has a convenient boondocking spot!  Check it out if you’re in the area!

Date visited: April 2018

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