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Controversial dam created outdoor paradise

The monsoon season is over, the crowds have gone, and the daytime temperatures are ideal — all perfect conditions for a fall trip to Lake Powell.

The lake, which boasts more than 1,800 miles of shoreline, lies within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, on the border of Arizona and Utah. The lake was created when the Glen Canyon Dam was built. Although the dam was, and still is, a controversial topic for many, the lake it created has become an outdoor person’s paradise.

Lake Powell is full of sandy beaches to stop at, Navajo sandstone formations and monoliths as well as dozens of side canyons to explore by boat or on foot. It is also a popular fishing area especially for largemouth and striped bass. In late October, average daily high temperatures are in the mid-70s.

There are many ways to get out on the lake, including renting a houseboat or taking a guided boat tour. Houseboat rentals are extremely popular there. You can rent houseboats that range in size from 46 to 75 feet depending on your needs. The boats sleep six to 12 people and it’s just like renting a floating condominium, with furnishings and appliances ranging from basic to luxurious. Two sources for boat rentals are Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas, 888-896-3829, www.lakepowell.com/, and Antelope Point Marina, 928-645-5900, www.antelopepointlakepowell.com/.

Many of the most popular guided day trips embark from Wahweap Marina, located just east of Page, Ariz. There are a variety of tours including one to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, and other cruises up the waters within the narrow Navajo sandstone walls of Antelope and Navajo canyons.

To reach Rainbow Bridge National Monument the boat ride takes about six or seven hours round-trip, depending on the current lake level. The boat brings you about 50 miles up the lake to the courtesy dock near Rainbow Canyon where you disembark. From here you walk less than three-quarters of a mile to Rainbow Bridge itself. The bridge is the world’s largest known natural stone bridge and is about 290 feet tall and 275 feet wide.

The Antelope Canyon tour is a one-and-one-half-hour round-trip and takes you up the narrow canyon about 4 miles. There is also a 2½-hour tour that heads up Antelope and Navajo canyons. The tours from Wahweap run daily through the end of October. From November through the winter months they still offer tours, as long as they have at least 15 passengers booked for a given tour. Always call ahead. Wahweap Marina. 800-528-6154. www.lakepowell.com/.

If you are short on time but still want to get out on Lake Powell, I recommend driving just west of Page, onto the Navajo Reservation, and down to Antelope Point Marina. A tour leaving from this dock will take you to Antelope Canyon more quickly than the one from Wahweap. This pontoon-boat cruise is only one hour long. 928-608-4477, www.AntelopePointLakePowell.com/.

On your drive to the marina you will see stations offering guided slot canyon tours in Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon. There is no water in these parts of the canyon, unless after a rain, when no tours will take place because of flash flooding. The upper slot can be walked easily, but in the lower canyon there are stairs you will need to negotiate. These are some of the most stunning narrow slot canyons in the world, and if you have an extra hour or two to spend in the area, entering them will be well worth your time. For more information on these tours, call 928-645-9496 or visit www.visitlakepowell.com/.

There are many places to camp in the area including the Wahweap RV Park and Campground, located only one-quarter-mile from the lake. For lodging there is the Lake Powell Resort at the marina, which offers rooms and suites, restaurants and gift and coffee shops. www.lakepowell.com/. A variety of other lodging can also be found in Page.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled in the book “Base Camp Las Vegas, Hiking the Southwestern States.” She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the newly released book “Access for All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.

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