Off-Season Houseboating on Lake Powell

As popular as Lake Powell is in the hot sunny summer months there’s a secret that the locals know — Lake Powell is a great place to houseboat in the Spring, Fall and Winter. The lake can be quiet, still and serene.

Houseboat Lake Powell Fall
Houseboating on Lake Powell in the Fall

These photographs are from a trip taken over November (Thanksgiving to be specific). The clouds hung low in the sky, keeping temperatures cool, the colors muted, the shadows soft. It did not rain on us and the clouds didn’t hang around the entire trip. The weather was great for some hiking and exploring up the canyon walls that would be brutally hot in the summer.

Houseboating Wahweap Lake Powell November
Houseboating Wahweap Lake Powell November

We had our pick of some of the best beaches and houseboat parking. In the Summer this location would be stacked with boats!

Lake Powell Beaches
Lake Powell Beaches

When the sun came out we really got to enjoy the wonderful sandy beach. It is worth noting that swimming was not on the agenda! Although boating on the still, smooth fall water is a treat, that’s about the extent of the water recreation you’d comfortably try. Instead, focus on the landscape, climbing and hiking, the cool weather, the sweet smell of moisture in the desert, the glow of a nighttime campfire…

If you think that the hot sun of Summer will melt your houseboat rental plans on Lake Powell, consider visiting in the Spring or Fall!

Rainbow Bridge and Dangling Rope Marina

Fuel Dock at Dangling Rope Lake Powell
Fuel Dock at Dangling Rope Lake Powell, don't leave without filling up!
Lake Powell’s Dangling Rope Marina is a floating station down lake from Rainbow Bridge and about 40 miles up lake from Wahweap. It is only accessible by boat and serves as a stopping point for adventurers to get some basic supplies like fuel, water and ice cream!

Dangling Rope got its name from some climbing gear abandoned by miners before the reservoir was filled.

Recycling and Garbage Barge Dangling Rope Marina
Recycling and Garbage Barge Dangling Rope Marina

Employees at Dangling Rope live up on land above the floating docks and stay there for 2 weeks or more at a time. Taking the 1.5 hour boat ride back to Wahweap for supplies and escape on their days off.

Rainbow Bridge Dock
Rainbox Bridge Dock

Similar to Dangling Rope is the long floating docks of Rainbow Bridge. Because of the changes in water level of Lake Powell these floating docks allow them to accommodate the tour boats that arrive here from Wahweap.

National Park Service Rangers at Rainbow Bridge
National Park Service Rangers at Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge is the largest known natural bridge (an arch over water) and is a sacred place to the native population. It is important that if you’re one of the 90,000 annual visitors that you honor and respect this natural wonder and those to whom this place is sacred.

Interpretive park rangers are often on site to educate and inform the bridge visitors.

Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge towering over a Yucca blossom

Slickrock and Tub Rings

The soft sandstone undulations around the Glen Canyon, Lake Powell and Grand Staircase have a mesmerizing quality to them. They are so unlike the rock that you may see elsewhere in the world, in fact, the slickrock is really not rock at all. It’s a sandstone. To be specific, it is layers of stratified, petrified ocean bottom! It’s ancient beach. The stripes and patterns reflect the flow and direction of different types of sediment and sand, dunes and mudflows. Some of the most famous and recognizable of these formations is in Coyote Butte in Southern Utah towards Kanab.

Lake Powell Slickrock
Lake Powell Slickrock

As a stark contrast to these soft forms is the appearance of the “tub ring”, a salty, alkaline mineral deposit left behind from Lake Powell as its Colorado river water leaches these minerals out of the surrounding land on its way to the reservoir. When the lake level was rising from the day the Glen Canyon dam was completed this ring was not an issue.

Once Lake Powell filled Glen Canyon the fluctuations of water level (drought, flood, water release from the dam) started to reveal this white deposit on the porous shore surfaces.

Lake Powell Slickrock
Lake Powell Slickrock

Camping on Lake Powell

Lake Powell is probably best known for its houseboating adventures. I’ll admit, it’s one of my favorite things to do on the lake. However renting a houseboat (or even if you own one) and managing days on the lake, countless gallons of fuel and all the other responsibilities that come with piloting a large boat can sometimes be too much.

There is an element of freedom and simplicity that comes with exploring the lake on a smaller boat, be it a rental skiboat from Wahweap or a private cabin cruiser.

Boat Camping on Lake Powell
Boat Camping on Lake Powell

Here’s a great campsite we had and what it lacked in beach it made up for in a sandy flat campsite, loads of shelter from the wind and waves and a fantastic view.

Having a smaller boat can help you get uplake faster, see and do more if exploring is your goal on Lake Powell. If you’ve ever fueled a houseboat you’ll know that they’re gas guzzlers too.

Getting uplake faster means that you can also escape the relative crowds of houseboats near Wahweap and see more variety of terrain.

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