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Raft trip offers glimpse at hidden wonderland

One of the most enchanting stretches of the Colorado River starts at the base of the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona and winds about 15 miles downstream to Lees Ferry. It’s extremely difficult to access by land, so the most enjoyable and easiest way to see this hidden wonderland is by taking a raft trip with a local rafting company.

This is a half-day trip on smooth water rather than a whitewater thriller, so it’s suitable for nearly everybody. Those 4 and older are welcome.

When you first board the raft you will have a close-up view of the Glen Canyon Dam. As you travel downstream you will be treated to stunning scenery as red and orange cliffs soar hundreds of feet above you. Within these cliffs you might see small waterfalls and cascades, alcoves and hanging gardens of wildflowers. A variety of birds make their home here including ospreys, great blue herons and bald eagles.

The trip includes a relaxing stop on a sandy beach where you can swim, enjoy lunch and even take a short, easy hike to see American Indian petroglyphs. Even on the hottest day here, a quick dip in the river will be refreshingly cold. Average temperatures along this section of the river range from 50-60 degrees. Contact Wilderness River Adventures at riveradventures.com or 800-992-8022 for more information.

For your river adventure, bring a small backpack or a day bag no more than 20 inches wide or long as you will have to pass through a strict security checkpoint. Wear a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, shorts and a bathing suit under your clothes and apply sunscreen. Wear a brimmed hat, water shoes, water sandals or sneakers, but not flip flops. Bring along a refillable water bottle, food, snacks and a camera. Be sure to bring proper identification for the checkpoint. Coolers are not allowed.

Fly fishing also is popular along the river. Anglers launch their craft at Lees Ferry and head upstream for the day to try to catch many types of fish including rainbow and brown trout.

Lees Ferry has long served as a place to launch watercraft in the river. It served travelers and local folk who needed to cross the Colorado River from the 1870s until 1928 when the first Navajo bridge was built.

Plan on a two-night minimum stay in Page, Arizona, or Kanab, Utah, so you will have time to explore the surrounding area.

For reservations and more information on lodging and the vicinity, contact the Page Visitor Center, 6 N. Lake Powell Blvd., Page, Arizona, 928-645-9496 or www.visitpagelakepowell.com.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled into books about hiking in the Southwest. She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.

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