Page, Arizona is upstream of the Grand Canyon, on the Colorado river. We planned the visit to do a rafting trip, through Glen Canyon. Once we planned to go to Page, we found there are a lot of other attractions in the area too! Mom came with us, and we had no trouble filling our time here with activities.
The city of Page began when the Glen Canyon Dam was built starting in 1956, to dam the Colorado River and create Lake Powell. It feels like a pretty utilitarian town. It isn’t cute and walkable, like Williams, but there are a lot of natural attractions in the surrounding area, so it definitely attracts tourists.
The Glen Canyon Dam is 710 feet tall, only 15 feet less than Hoover Dam. It was controversial, because the ecosystem of Glen Canyon was permanently changed to create the reservoir. The river used to be warm and muddy, but with the creation of the lake, the river is now cold and clear, and all new fish were introduced. The controversy surrounding the creation of this dam led to it being one of the last dams of its size to be built in America.
We toured the dam and watched the informational movie at the visitors center. The dam tour was really informative and told us how the dam was built and how it works to regulate water levels and create hydroelectric power. The video talked about how complicated water rights and agreements are. The Colorado River is the largest water source in the southwest, and drains seven U.S. states and two Mexican states, and it’s important that they all have enough water.
We took an elevator down several stories to get to the top of the dam. Before the doors opened, the elevator flatly announced “Dam,” and we all laughed, because we are super mature. The dam is impressive from all angles, and it was fun (and windy) to stand on top! I didn’t really expect the dam tour to be that interesting, but it was!
The part of the Colorado River that goes through the Grand Canyon is white water rafting, and trips through it take at least a week, since there aren’t areas to get into or out of the Grand Canyon easily. Glen Canyon is immediately upstream from the Grand Canyon, and there are still-water rafting daytrips offered that go about 15 miles down the Colorado River from the Glen Canyon Dam to Lee’s Ferry, which is the only place where the river is accessible by vehicle, and the start of the Grand Canyon. Glen Canyon is much narrower than the Grand Canyon, and the river is still and cold due to the dam.
The trip started with boarding a bus and driving through the Glen Canyon Dam access tunnel. The tunnel is one-way, unlit, two mile tunnel through the rock wall of Glen Canyon, ending at the base of the dam. From there we got into rafts. Each raft held about 20 people, but we got on the last raft and there were only 8 people and our guide, Kinjo.
The trip down the river was relaxing, and we could move around the raft since ours wasn’t full. Kinjo told us about some features of the river, and which of the rock formations look like animals. About halfway through the trip, we stopped to hike a short ways to see some petroglyphs. We also found a couple big lizards.
We were prepared for a windy day out in the sun, but it was cloudy and it felt great to be out all day on the river!
Navajo Nation has some beautiful sandstone slot canyons near Page, AZ. Two of the most well-known are Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. I labored over which one we should tour! People are only allowed in the canyons on tours, in order to protect the land as well as protect people from the risk of flash floods.
Upper Antelope Canyon is more easily accessible and very beautiful, but also very crowded. Lower Antelope Canyon is more difficult to maneuver because it involves steep stairs and tight squeeze. It’s also crowded, but because it is more narrow and winding, you can’t see all the people you share the canyon with. It’s also a little longer. I wasn’t sure if Lower Antelope would be too challenging for mom, or make me feel claustrophobic, but we both decided to try it.
I’m so glad we decided on Lower Antelope Canyon! It was so beautiful, it almost didn’t look real. Our guide, Buffalo, helped us with camera settings and also took pictures of us. The tour group behind us was obnoxious and kept pressing forward into our group and not staying with their guide. I don’t know why anyone would rush, I would stay there all day if I could!
We took a boat ride on Lake Powell, to see the other side of the dam. Lake Powell is really interesting, because it is a flooded canyon, with steep walls. The lake was at its highest level in the 80s, and left a white mark on the canyon walls (the bathtub ring), which shows how much lower the lake level is now (roughly 100 ft). There are also side canyons, our boat ride went into Navajo Canyon and Antelope Canyon. We also passed the marinas, which were full of houseboats. Most were really fancy and nearly all have slides off the back!
One of the most popular things to do in Page is a short hike to Horseshoe Bend, which is a lookout over a horseshoe shaped bend in the Colorado River. There is a large parking lot right off the highway, and every time we passed it, it was full of cars and buses.
We went to hike to it one day, but it was windy and the sand was blowing, so we put it off until the last day, when it wasn’t so windy. The hike was 3/4 mile each way, up and over a large sandy hill. The view was beautiful. There were no railings and the rocky cliff was undercut in some places, so we didn’t get too close to the edge.
Mom didn’t want to look down over the edge, but I strongly encouraged her to at least see what we came out there for! There were a lot of people there, but it didn’t feel too crowded because everyone spread out at the overlook. When we rafted down the river, we could see the tiny ants (people) up on the cliff. From the overlook, the rafts on the river looked so tiny. It’s a long way down to the river!
The last night of mom’s visit we went to a restaurant called Into the Grand that served Navajo tacos on fry bread, and after dinner there was a performance of traditional Native American dancing by five Navajo dancers. They didn’t perform Navajo dances, because they are for ceremony and not public performance, they performed other types of Native American dance. The MC was Joseph Secody, and he and another of the dancers placed 6th and 7th in their divisions at the World Champion hoop dancing competition. The dancing and the regalia worn by the dancers were beautiful and I thought it was really cool that they showed it to us. I had never seen anything like it before.
We ate pretty well all week, Brian made more delicious meals for mom and I. The campground we stayed at (Page Lake Powell Campground) didn’t allow fires, so he cooked on the stove. He used frozen crawfish from New Orleans to make crawfish cakes, and also made steak fried rice and a peanut dipping sauce, and mom and I made shrimp fresh rolls!
We also ate at outdoors at a barbeque restaurant with a country band playing. It was windy out, and mom was pretty cold, but the food was good and it was fun!
It was great to have mom visiting, and we had a lot of fun with all these activities. It’s tiring doing so much exploring! We are hoping to slow down a bit now and get our truck repaired in Colorado.
Day 212 | Mile 21,636