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Nestled within the stunning red rock landscapes of the American Southwest, Lake Powell offers an unparalleled paddling experience, including the opportunity to kayak Antelope Canyon.
If you’re looking to kayak Lake Powell, we’ll provide essential tips, routes, and safety information to help you make the most of your adventure on this iconic reservoir.
Why Plan A Lake Powell Antelope Canyon Kayak Trip?
A Lake Powell Antelope Canyon kayak trip can be an unforgettable adventure.
But it’s not just kayaking at Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon, there are plenty of other things to do, such as hiking, fishing, swimming, and learning about the area at the many visitor centers.
Millions Of Years Of History And Geology
Lake Powell is within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, stretching between Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.
The canyon walls that tower hundreds of feet above the lake have been carved out over millions of years by the force of the Colorado River. The river was dammed in 1963, creating Lake Powell.
You can discover fossil evidence of dinosaurs from the Mesozoic Era as well as fossilized evidence of mammoths and other mammals from the Ice Age.
As well as fossil remains from prehistoric fauna, there are also hanging gardens to witness. These native plants grow on the vertical cliff face of the canyon.
Before or after your kayaking trip, you can hike along the Hanging Garden Trail on the opposite side of the bridge from the Carl Hayden Visitor Center near Page, AZ.
Lake Powell Wildlife
Lake Powell can be a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise, with several rare species being found in the area.
One of the rare species found around Lake Powell is the California condor. This is North America’s largest bird, with a wingspan of 9.5 feet. If you’re lucky you might spot one soaring overhead.
Peregrine falcons, Mexican spotted owls, bald eagles, and long-eared owls are some of the other birds you could spot around Antelope Canyon.
You’ll find several species of reptiles, including the chuckwalla and the desert spiny lizard. The area is also home to lots of snakes, including four types of rattlesnake species.
Be aware of rattlesnakes if you’re hiking through the canyons or camping on the shore. You should listen for the rattle and move away from the snake’s location, as the snake will see you as a threat and could bite you in defense.
Mammals are rarely spotted around Lake Powell but there are a few species that call the area home. Bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, and bighorn sheep can be found but you’re unlikely to see these animals during your kayaking trip.
Lake Powell Kayak Camping
One of the best things about Lake Powell is that you can camp pretty much anywhere around the lake, as the lake shore is considered National Park land.
You will need to make sure you adhere to the Leave No Trace principles. This means you need to leave your campsite as you found it and take all your trash home. So, don’t forget to bring a garbage bag with you for this purpose.
You will also need to think about human waste disposal, as this also needs to be taken with you, including toilet paper. You can rent portable toilets from Wahweap Marina.
Or you might find it’s easier to carry WAG (Waste Alleviation and Gelling) bags. You can find these in outdoor stores as well as marinas on the lake.
Hiking And Swimming In A Slot Canyon
A Lake Powell Antelope Canyon trip is not just about paddling through this remarkable landscape. You can also stop for a swim or hike deeper into the slot canyon for an otherworldly experience.
If you plan to hike, remember to wear sturdy shoes, especially if you plan to climb at any point. There are some areas where you can ascend parts of the canyons, such as the Moki Steps in Navajo Canyon.
However, most of the hikes into the canyons are flat, with rocky and sandy terrain.
Kayak Rentals And Tours At Lake Powell
You can rent kayaks at Antelope Point Marina where you can easily explore Antelope Canyon at your own pace.
The marina offers both single kayaks and double kayaks for use in Antelope Canyon. These are sit-on-top kayaks that can be easy for beginners to paddle but they may not offer as much space for a multi-day adventure compared to touring kayaks.
Sit-on-top kayak rental is also available at Wahweap Marina, where they have solo and double kayaks for daily rental.
Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks is a kayak outfitter based in Page, Arizona, offering kayak rentals as well as guided tours. Guided tours include a kayak tour to Antelope Canyon and a multi-day tour to Labyrinth Canyon (this involves a boat charter/water taxi to take you and the kayaks closer to the slot canyon).
Lake Powell Paddleboards and Kayaks transport the rented kayaks to Lake Powell, so you don’t need to worry about transporting them yourself.
You can also arrange a guided tour through Hidden Canyon Kayak. This outfitter offers guided tours through both Antelope and Labyrinth slot canyons, as well as kayak rental. Transportation of kayaks to Lake Powell is provided through Hidden Canyon Kayak and kayaks can be rented for multiple days.
Where To Launch For An Antelope Canyon Kayak Trip
Antelope Point Public Launch Ramp in Arizona can be the best place to launch for a kayaking trip through Antelope Canyon.
Several kayak tours launch from this location but it can be ideal for launching your own kayak. There are restrooms and a large parking lot. Plus, it’s a smooth concrete ramp down to the lakeshore.
Where to launch & How to get there:
Antelope Point Launch Ramp, Antelope Point Road, Page, AZ 86040. From AZ-98 head north on Indian Route 222. The launch ramp is signposted.
However, you can also launch from Lone Rock Beach if you want to explore Lone Rock Canyon and Ice Cream Slot Canyon around Wahweap Bay. This launch is in Utah on the far western edge of Lake Powell.
What To Pack For a Lake Powell Kayak Camping Trip
It can be a good idea to dress for the temperature of the water. However, in the summer months, you may prefer to dress to suit the air temperature, as it can be incredibly hot.
Sports shirts with long sleeves can be better than ones with short sleeves, helping to shield your skin from the sun. Rash guards can be ideal, especially since many of them have built-in sun protection with UPF fabric to prevent sunburn.
Find out more about what to wear when kayaking.
If you plan to kayak in winter, you may want to opt for a wet suit or a dry suit to protect you from the cold. However, most kayak outfitters on Lake Powell close during the winter due to the weather.
Essential Safety Equipment
First and foremost, your safety on the lake is important. Anytime you are kayaking, you should always wear a life jacket or PFD (Personal Flotation Device).
You’ll find some of the top-rated PFDs here.
You’re required to have a PFD on board for every person on your kayak. I recommend that you wear it at all times while you’re kayaking on Lake Powell.
Find out how to choose life jackets here.
A whistle and a marine radio or walkie-talkies can also be useful accessories if you need to call for help. You might want to think about using a safety flag or other highly visible accessory to increase your chances of being seen by other boats.
Potable water is a necessity for any kayaking trip around Lake Powell. The dry climate and excessively hot summer temperatures mean you can become dehydrated very quickly.
You should aim to take around a gallon of potable water per person for each day you plan to explore. If this is not feasible, due to the shortage of space on kayaks, you can pack a water filtration system.
A water filtration system means you can filter and purify the lake water and use it for drinking and cooking.
There is little to no shade around Lake Powell.
Some of the canyons can become shaded depending on the angle of the sun and the time of day but for the most part, you will be exposed to the sun during your entire trip.
This means you will need sun protection for kayaking. This includes covering all exposed skin with sunscreen.
I recommend using at least SPF 30, which is also the recommendation for safe sun protection by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
You should also wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your face and eyes from harmful UV rays.
Trash bags can be easily forgotten by many people heading outdoors. But you need to have a way of bringing your trash home with you and a couple of garbage bags can be the ideal solution.
You don’t need to take a whole roll of trash bags to Lake Powell, just enough to hold the amount of trash you intend to generate.
The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is pretty remote and covers over a million acres. The lake itself covers over 162,000 acres. So there’s lots of space to explore. However, the vast area can increase your risk of getting lost.
This is where a kayak GPS device can be useful. A dedicated GPS can work better than your phone, as your phone needs to rely on a cellular signal to transmit data.
GPS devices connect to satellites so they can be used everywhere, including backcountry locations like Lake Powell.
Food And Snacks
You should bring enough food and snacks to keep you going for your entire trip. If you plan to camp overnight, you should make sure you have cooking equipment.
A kayak cooler can help keep your food fresh while you’re on the go.
Water shoes can be essential for kayaking on Lake Powell. They can be even more important if you plan to hike into the Lower Antelope Canyon or stop at any of the beaches for a picnic.
Check out some of these best water shoes for kayaking.
I’d recommend packing a tent for an overnight trip. Don’t forget to use a dry bag to keep your gear dry.
You should also pack sleeping bags and mats. Temperatures can drop significantly in the desert so even though it might be unbearably hot during the day, it won’t be like this at night.
In summer, overnight lows tend to be around the 50s and 60s, despite daytime highs being around 100 degrees.
In winter months, expect lows in the 20s and 30s.
Make sure you have the right gear for the job. Find out more about what to bring kayak camping and, more importantly, how to pack your kayak here.
Lake Powell Map
A map of the lake and Antelope Canyon can be useful to bring. The cliffs and bluffs around the lake can all look very similar when they’re towering above you, making it easy to get lost.
Studying the map before your trip can help you plan your route so you have a better idea of some of the landmarks to look for when you’re on the water.
Four-Night/Five-Day Kayak Camping Itinerary Idea
If you want to make the most of your time at Lake Powell, it can be a good idea to embark on a multi-day kayaking adventure. This can let you explore Lake Powell at your own pace
However, if you don’t have five days to spare or you don’t have a lot of kayaking experience, you can experience kayaking Antelope Canyon on a day trip by following the Day 1 itinerary and returning to the launch after the trip.
This complete itinerary is best suited to intermediate and advanced paddlers in touring kayaks who can handle wind, waves, and long paddling distances.
Day 1: Antelope Point To Antelope Canyon
Launching at the public launch ramp next to the marina, take a left and head south. The entrance to Antelope Canyon will be on your left just before the lake bends round to the right.
This can be a busy stretch of water, with a lot of other boats, which can make the water conditions a little choppy. The route can also be affected by wind.
On a positive note, Antelope Canyon is a no-wake zone. So, once you reach the canyon, the waters are calm.
You can paddle as far into Antelope Canyon as you can go, alongside towering sandstone cliffs that form the slot canyon. You can then either turn around or hike into Lower Antelope Canyon to get up close and personal with these giant, mesmerizing rock formations.
You can spend as long as you want hiking through the narrow canyon walls of Lower Antelope Canyon. There are around three hours of hiking trails through Antelope Canyon.
When you’ve explored enough, paddle back out of the canyon, retracing your route in reverse. Before you get to the launch, there are several beaches on both the boat ramp side and on Antelope Island.
You can set up camp for the night on any of these beaches, depending on availability at the time, as many of the beaches and campsites can be busy with other kayakers and boaters.
Day 2: Antelope Island To Navajo Canyon
Once you’ve packed up your camp and are ready to hit the water, launch from the beach and head east past the marina. This stretch can be particularly busy with boat traffic and can be very windy, making it tricky to paddle.
Stay close to the shoreline for safety.
The entrance to Navajo Canyon will be on your right just after the lake bends round to the left. Paddle through the tall canyon and follow its winding path. Navajo Canyon is also a no-wake zone.
You’ll find lots of side canyons and little islands you can paddle around.
As you paddle deeper into the canyon, the canyon walls will open up a little. This is where you’ll find a large beach for camping overnight.
Day 3: NMS Beach To The Mouth Of Labyrinth Canyon
After watching the sunrise over the glowing canyon walls, it’s time to paddle back out of the canyon.
Heading back toward the main channel of Lake Powell can be difficult to paddle because of the oncoming wind and currents, so it may take you a little longer to paddle out than it did to paddle in.
When you reach the main channel, take a right. Be aware of passing boats and their wake.
As you reach a fork, turn right to head east.
The channel eventually opens up into a small bay, Gunsight Bar, where Labyrinth Bay (and the entrance to Labyrinth Canyon) is on your right.
There are beaches on the small peninsula just before Labyrinth Bay and this makes a perfect beach camping spot and a place to recharge. This will be your campsite for two nights.
Day 4: Labyrinth Canyon
Wake up on the shoreline of Labyrinth Bay and head out toward Labyrinth Canyon. From the bay, you can see the magnificent surrounding landscape with bluffs and cliffs around the bay and in the distance.
There’s a small side canyon on the right as you head toward the main canyon. You can paddle in here for an extra adventure but it gets very narrow very quickly, with little room to turn around.
Heading into the canyon, the water is a beautiful turquoise color but as you head deeper into the canyon it begins to take on the color of the rocks.
How far into the canyon you can paddle will depend on the water levels. But once you go as far as you can, you can set off on foot and hike into the canyon for further exploration. This spot can also be busy with kayakers.
The canyon can be very hot when you’re hiking, particularly in comparison to the temperature while paddling over the water.
You can spend the day exploring the canyon and feeling like you’re lost in a movie set before it’s time to head back to your camp near the mouth of the canyon.
Day 5: Labyrinth Canyon To Starting Point
Your return journey sees you follow the main channel of Lake Powell back to the boat ramp. This section is around a 10-mile trip and can be especially difficult.
Make the most of any beaches or landing rocks you see on the trip to have a rest, rehydrate, and stop for lunch.
Head out of Labyrinth Bay and head west on the main channel. At the fork, take a left and follow the main channel back to the marina and boat ramp.
Environmental Impact Of Kayaking At Lake Powell
It’s not a secret that the water level of Lake Powell has dropped substantially during the 21st century. Changing water levels can affect the operation of marinas and boat launches.
Bullfrog Marina on the northeastern edge of Lake Powell in Utah is particularly susceptible to low water levels caused by drought and climate change.
Kayaking can be one of the most environmentally friendly ways to explore Lake Powell.
However, extra care should be taken when hiking and camping to avoid disrupting the landscape.
Cryptobiotic soil crusts make up a large part of the desert landscape around Lake Powell. This soil is susceptible to erosion caused by foot traffic so it’s important to stick to main trails and avoid going off the beaten path.
Cryptobiotic soil is made up of living organisms and takes several years to regrow once it’s been stepped on. Keep an eye out for it: it’s darker than the soil it’s growing on and has a spongy texture.
Another way to protect the fragile environment around Lake Powell is to take all your trash home with you. Don’t leave anything behind and don’t take anything from the environment. Make sure you follow the Leave No Trace principles.
Lake Powell Kayak Laws
PFDs are required for each person in a kayak. Children 13 years and younger must wear a PFD at all times.
It’s illegal to deface any of the rocks or canyon walls.
A $30 Entrance Pass fee is required for all vehicles (or $15 per person on foot or bicycle). The pass is valid for seven days.
Boating at night is not recommended.
Camping on the shores of Lake Powell is allowed without a permit for up to 14 days.
Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon can provide a stunning backdrop for your next adventure. If you want to spend a few hours or a few days exploring the wilderness of Arizona, this can be the perfect place for a kayaking adventure.
Remember, you will be sharing the water with other boats, so make sure you stay visible. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water and sunscreen (and a dry bag for your gear).