What you need to know about lake Powell
Lake Powell season is just a few weeks away and I get asked about this glorious lake every year by many of you because it is our home away from home during the summer months, We usually spend anywhere from 2-4 weeks of our summers there. Half of Lake Powell is located in Utah and the other half in Arizona. The scenery there is absolutely stunning as it is completely surrounded by red rock cliffs on all sides and lake is HUGE so you never have to share a beach unless you want to.
best time to go
We love to go as early as may and as late as October, because the weather heats up quite early there and we want to take advantage of our available time there, but in the spring, the water is still streaming in from snow melting in Colorado and it is pretty dang cold. we have even been known to wear wet suits there in may. I personally think septermber/early October is the very best time to visit as the weather has cooled down to about 90 degrees but the water is the warmest it gets all year! If you wake up early and take a swim, the water can actually be warmer than the air and it is heavenly! It's also a great time to avoid the really crowded weeks (like 4th or July) if you're cool, with pulling your kids our of school for a week or leaving them home with a sitter.
Where to stay
Steve and I have both been visiting Lake Powell since we were kids. I have camped, stayed in a hotel, rented a houseboat and we now own a houseboat on the lake. Every single trip has been SO MUCH fun, but I would definitely recommend staying in a house boat if you're able to. It's just my favorite was to experience the lake. You can rent houseboats right from https://www.lakepowell.com/houseboating/deluxe-houseboats/ and pick up your boat at the marina. We are not able to rent our houseboat out, I'm sorry! It's part of the agreement we made with the 7 other owners of our boat.
Lake Powell has 4 marinas. I've been to 3. Bull frog (UT) Wahweap (AZ) and Antelope Point (AZ). Wahweap and Antelope point are just a few miles down the road from each other in Page, Arizona. Bull Frog and Wahweap are both national parks so you can use your parks pass to get in there which is cool, but Antelope Point is MUCH nicer than the other two as it is on reservation land and is privately owned. Growing up, when we would visit Bull Frog, we would have to haul all our food and luggage down a steep hill in tiny little plastic handcarts. It took forever and the heat was nearly unbearable. lol. Antelope Point has golf carts that will haul all your stuff down in one, maybe two trips. There is a great restaurant right on the water and a convenience store as well. I will say, It's been years since I've been to the other marinas, so it's quite possible they've upgraded some things that I may not know about. That may be worth looking Into if you're wanting to visit a different marina.
What to do in Lake Powell
We spend most of our time at Lake Powell playing in the water obviously!! the kids love to swim and most houseboats have a water slide off the back which adds to the fun. Our kids absolutely love playing on the Lily Pad, swimming with the skidoo dolphins kayaking, paddle boarding, cliff jumping, fishing and catching lizards on the beach. We love to jet ski, and boat including all watersports like tubing, wake boarding, surfing and skiing. You can also rent ski boats and jet skis from the marina.
If you're on the Arizona side of the lake be sure to stop by Dangling Rope marina to eat ice cream and feed the ginormous carp on your way to hike rainbow bridge. Yes, you will want to pack some hiking shoes and a camel back or some water bottles. This is a yearly tradition for our family. We take a photo in front of the huge arch every year. It's absolutely beautiful.
Another fun tradition we started is to have a dance party one night when it's dark including hundreds of dollar store glow sticks that everyone where while they dance and swim. So fun!
Be sure to sleep on the top deck of your houseboat if you're able to because the stars at the lake are unlike anything I've ever seen!
What to pack
When it comes to lake life, less is more. You'll obviously want to pack plenty of food, but we'll get to that soon. When we pack for lake Powell we bring toiletries (not including makeup), plenty of sunscreen and aloe (preferably the kind with lidocaine in it), swim suits and coverups, pajamas, undies and an outfit to leave in. You can bring more than that, but I highly doubt you'll use it. I also like to pack a few books to read, and some fun things for the kids to do like watercolor painting, a jewelry beading kit or a collection of movies to watch (if your houseboat has a TV on it). I also like to bring command hooks that I can attach, use while I'm there and then remove easily before we leave.
You'll probably want to pack bedding as well. Some of the boats come with bedding on the beds, but we always bring our own because it's more comfy that way and to be perfectly honest, it grosses me out to use the other stuff. lol. If you're sleeping inside (which I do with my small kids) then you'll want actual bedding. I love bringing a Beddys bed because it's so easy to travel with (you can use my code ANNIEH for a discount) and I bring my own pillows from home. Steve and the bigger kids sleep in sleeping bags on the top deck, Most house boats have sleeping pads for that very purpose.
For your kids, you'll want to pack all the same things you packed for yourself. I highly recommend some swim shirts for ALL your kids. After a few days of wearing a life jacket for hours upon hours their poor little arm pits and under their chins can get super chafed from all the rubbing. I ALWAYS pack vaseline and apply it to their sore spots at night once they're done wearing their life jackets for the day. DO NOT apply the vaseline during the day as it will attract the sun and burn their skin. Goggles don't come in very handy at Lake Powell, because the water is pretty dark and you can't see much, so you can leave those home. You'll want to pack a beach towel for each family member and a few extras, because your dry towel will somehow go missing right when you need it. lol.
If you're traveling with just you and your family you'll have to plan and bring all the food yourself. The houseboat should have everything you need as far as cooking equipment, pots and pans, things of that nature.
If you're traveling with a big group (which we do almost all the time ) then you can split up the responsibility with the food. This is the system we have used for years:
Breakfast: Everyone brings their own food to make their own breakfasts
Lunches and dinners: I divide up the number of meals by the number of families we have on the boat. It usually adds up to about one lunch and one dinner per family, that they are responsible for providing and preparing for the entire group on the boat.
Snacks: Everyone brings snacks and treats to share
Paper products: Each family brings one paper product, paper towels, plastic utensils, paper plates, cups, and bowls, enough for everyone to share.
Drinks: everyone brings a case of water and a few cases of other drinks to share with everyone.
Depending on the size of the group you may need to change this up a bit but this system has worked for us for years. I email everyone about 2-3 weeks before the trip with their assignments and they respond back to the group with what meals they'll provide so no one makes the same meal twice. There is always plenty to eat and usually way too many treats!
When it comes to packing food you have three options. You can pack your food in coolers and haul it down in your car, stop at the Walmart in Page, AZ with your grocery list and pick everything up once you're down there, or you can order your groceries from SafeWay and have them delivered to your houseboat before you even arrive. If you do want to go with the last option, just know that the delivery fee is quite expensive. Usually over $100, but if you order with several friends and split the fee, it's so convenient and so worth it! They are very very busy, however, so you will need to order your groceries about 2 weeks before your trip to ensure the delivery time you want. It's been years since I've packed my food from home. It's nice to have one less thing to think about packing. I do bring an empty cooler with me though, because we usually have left overs that I like to bring home.
Keeping everyone safe
Unfortunately, there are tragic accidents every year at Lake Powell so it's super important to stay as safe as possible while you're down there. Set some rules for yourself and your family, and be freaking crazy about them. Seriously, make no exceptions, this could literally be life or death. I have been traveling to Lake Powell with my kids since Alfie was about 6 weeks old. If you have small kids (or kids at all) and you bring them with you, then you need to know ahead of time that it will NOT be a relaxing vacation for you. You will have to watch them like a hawk. If you want a relaxing vacation, leave your kids home. It's still a ton of fun, but it's not going to be super relaxing with children. We have very strict rules with our kids about life jackets as well. All of our kids are excellent swimmers, but they are required to wear a life jacket anytime they not inside the walls of the house boat or going to sleep for the night. They are never allowed to swim without adult supervision. Once they are teens we will allow a bit more freedom in this department, but for now it's what we have to do. At night, Steve locks up all the gates on the house boat that open up to the water and locks all the doors (except one in case someone needs to go to the bathroom) inside the houseboat, to keep everyone as safe as possible. If you drink alcohol, PLEASE be smart about it and DO NOT DRIVE A BOAT. You would be surprised how often people do this (not just a Lake Powell but on all lakes!). I don't mean to scare you off, because Lake Powell is one of our favorite places on the planet! I just want to make sure you understand how important it is to be as safe as possible!
We are planning our upcoming trips for the year and are so excited!! Let me know if you have questions and if you've been thinking about visiting this gorgeous place, I hope you make it happen! Lake Powell is for everyone!!