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Every boating publication has already done a piece about Lake Powell, so
I'll make this a bit different, touching the mechanical highlights only.
Trying to describe, much less photograph, the majesty of this body of water is
well beyond my skills . . . . and I've sold some of my pictures in the past.
Powell is normally seen from a houseboat or a parasite PWC/speedboat towed
behind one's houseboat. This is because of the marina/gasoline situation....or
should I say, lack of same. GAS: Powell (approx 3600') is nearly two hundred miles long, top to bottom,
with gas at both ends and at third distances along the way. About half way up
the lake, side tributaries (San Juan River, 100 miles round trip, and Escalante
River, 50 miles round trip) add to the mileage to be covered unfueled. In
other words, if you plan to see the entire lake in your own boat and not a
Winnebago with a keel, you need a150 mile range. I've got 65 gallons below
deck in my 20' Tolman skiff and have to avoid the temptation of running up
every inviting canyon on the way back from, say, the upper reaches of the San
WEATHER: Summer brings kids, kids bring PWC's. Go when school's in
session, the spring if you don't mind cold water, the fall if you like to
swim. Winds can kick up, but warnings about extremely rough conditions are
broadcast by folks with bow-riders and water-ski boats.....if your craft can
stand a mild blow on the ocean, don't worry about Powell.
MOORING: Western fresh water boaters don't "get" ground tackle and
anchoring. These folks drive their expensive sedan cruisers up on the sand and
tie off to a bolder with yellow poly-line. If you can set two anchors, front
to back, you will never be without private, cozy spots to spend the night.
WATER LEVEL: It's down 35' from full right now, but this opens up more
sandy beaches for afternoon lounging...it also brings big, hard things near the
surface. It's not unusual for one's depth finder to go from 400' to 20' in a
few hundred yards. The changing water color tells you the story but the
scrapes on top of some barely submerged rocks tells one that not all skippers
are paying attention; and don't expect the Park Service to tag every obstruction.
EXPLORING: Again, I won't try to describe the thrills around every bend.
Take notes about each canyon because in a day you can see a dozen different
canyon structures which you swear you won't forget....you will. Do remember
Twilight, Forty Mile Creek, Davis Gulch, Oak, and Mountain Sheep, however.
Enough said. My favorite places on the lake are all near the base of 10,000'
Navajo Mountain, Rainbow Bridge National Monument at dawn (pre-tour boat) being
perhaps the most beautiful spot in the world.
FISHING: They say it's great...and not just for the giant carp that infest
the marinas. I, however, spent a full year building my Tolman skiff for
travel, exploring, living in, and as a photo platform. The only fish allowed
in my boat better already be covered in lemon juice and on a bun. No fish piss
in my boat! Any problems I've had on Lake Powell will be addressed this winter with the
installation of new four-stroke outboards. Don't miss the chance to visit this
wonder. There are some rowdy party-rats on some of the house boats, but any
boater with basic salt-water skills can hide away from these idiots. Oh....try
for a full moon and don't expect to find a good meal in Page, Arizona.
Bruce Armstrong/Santa Barbara.