Did you know you can experience 5 bucket list adventures from the small town of Page, Arizona? You can! And I’m going to share some inside tips you can use to plan yourself a vacation of a lifetime. The town of Page is directly adjacent to Utah and it is the intersection of many breathtaking natural marvels. This town was not even on our radar when planning our travels until I noticed all the amazing adventures to be had in such a close proximity. We spent 3 short days in the beautiful area of Page, Arizona and managed to knock out many of our bucket list experiences in that area. Imagine what we could have done with a couple more days!
If you haven’t heard of this natural marvel already, this should wet your appetite.
Horseshoe Bend gets its name from the sharp bend the Colorado River forms in the Navajo sandstone. It’s quite a sight to behold and all the pictures I saw when adding it to my bucket list were nothing compared to seeing it in person. The way the sunlight reflects off the sandstone into the water conjures up a rainbow of colors with different views from every perspective.
If it was not for social media I would probably not have known about this hidden gem. But with fame there always come a cost. This once quiet sunrise location visited mostly by locals has now become something resembling a DisneyWorld attraction. We arrived shortly after 9AM and there were at least 20 cars in the parking lot already. We then started the 1.5 mile round trip hike through sand – some areas were a little challenging because the sand was so deep.
The Fear is Real
Looking at the picture above you wouldn’t know how afraid of heights I really am. During our last 2 years on the road, I have been trying my best to push outside my comfort zone. And moving towards this edge really pushed me hard! Believe me I was only there long enough to scoot my butt down to have this picture taken and it’s not as scary as it looks. Once I got out of this position and was wandering around looking at the bend from different angles, I turned around and saw at least 100 tourists (obviously a bus dropped them off) coming towards us. It really made me nervous so I will offer this warning, stay away from the edge if you feel uncomfortable. I had the sensation that someone could easily knock into me and off the edge I would go. I do not say this to discourage you by any means. This is a true beauty and shouldn’t be missed. Use your common sense and don’t do anything that makes you hesitant.
For exact location and helpful hints visit Horseshoe Bend. Since our visit to Page in 2018, they have implemented a fee (still worth it), made updates to the trail and added a viewing area. Click here for more information on visiting Horseshoe Bend.
In close proximity to Horseshoe Bend there lies the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. I had read that the Lower Canyon was the most popular because it is a longer tour. This was the number one bucket list item I hoped to check off in this area. The slot canyons consist of swirling shapes on sandstone walls, formed over millions of years by intense flood waters and blowing sand. It is best to visit the canyons when the sun overhead creates constantly changing colors within the canyon. You can only visit the canyons with a guided tour. The risk of injury, careless destruction of the walls and immediate flooding is a concern so the Navajo guides control when it is safe to go down into the canyons.
When I tried to make reservations for our short window of time over a holiday weekend, only 1 month ahead, I was not having any luck at all and thought I would not be seeing these canyons for myself. In fact, I pretty much had accepted it until we were having a quick bite at a bar in Page on our first night there. I noticed the lady next to me was looking at photos on her phone from one of the canyons and I was so jealous. We started chatting and she shared her pictures and they were amazing! So many different colors, shapes and light! I told her how I was not able to get a reservation and was so bummed. At that moment, a gentleman beside my husband spoke up, “They take walk-ins! Just go to Dixie Ellis Tours first thing in the morning and they will get you in some time that day”. I was blown away and so happy to be at the right place at the right time to hear this news! I could have kissed him. You never know what you will learn at the local bar when in a new place.
The next morning (Saturday) we showed up at 8AM at Dixie Ellis and waited in a line of about 10 people – others got the memo I guess. We were able to get in around 10ish which was great but then I asked THE question you should ask if you do a walk-in. When will the sun be the best today? This pushed our tour time back to around 1:30. We then headed to Horseshoe Bend to make the best use of our time before coming back around 1PM for our tour – you must arrive 30 minutes prior to your tour time. It was only a 15 minute drive between the two so it was a pretty easy combo. Quick note: our tour time was 1:30 but it was not the middle of summer. This may not be the best time if it’s really hot outside. The canyons are cool but if the sun is directly overhead it may be hotter than normal. Ask the tour company for best recommendation.
We started the tour with a quick 10-minute walk through sand and some rocks to the entrance of the canyon. We then climbed down 5 flights of stairs to enter the canyon. The awe was immediate. I almost had to pinch myself because I hadn’t done anything like this and it was the most magical experience that will live with me forever! Every turn you make is a different view, shape and color because of the sun shining down. The guides are amazing because they point out the different sandstone formations, some shaped like waves or hearts, and help you take the best pictures while sharing fun facts about the canyon. There are some tight spaces to go through so you may feel a little claustrophobic but you go through them very quickly and it’s so worth it!
The tour lasts 1-1.5 hours and the total walk is approximately 1.1 miles roundtrip.
Tour Day Tips
What to Bring
One bottle of water per person
Handheld camera or cell phone for photos
What Not to Bring
Bags & backpacks (including fanny packs, hydration bags and purses)
Camera equipment (tripods, monopods, selfie-sticks, camera bags)
No drones, GoPros or camcorders
No open-toed shoes, sandals or high heels (proper clothing required)
No pets or service animals
No firearms or weapons
Lake Powell is a man-made lake which was formed when the Glen Canyon Dam was completed on the Colorado River in 1963. It contains over 2000 miles of shore-line and is located in Arizona and Utah. It is 400 feet deep, 186 miles long and has a water storage capacity of 27,000,000 acre feet of water.
Since we are full-time RVers, we were fortunate to camp at the picturesque Wahweap Campground which is located 1/4 mile from the shore of glorious Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon – there is a $30 fee to enter this national recreation area but if you already have your National Park Pass it’s included in that cost. I had heard stories about how breathtaking this lake was but pictures and gushing from awe-struck tourists (such as myself now) don’t do it justice! You have to see it for yourself! It is a magical place – if you’re into crystal blue water surrounded by sandstone walls! It is literally heaven on earth.
The best way to experience the lake, besides from our campsite, is on a boat cruise or even better renting one of the many houseboats available to sleep right on the lake! Since we were already camped right on the lake we opted for the Rainbow Bridge boat tour. The 8 hour tour (which includes a hike to the bridge) takes you along 50 miles of glorious shoreline and every twist and turn is unique and mesmerizing.
Another unique part of Lake Powell is the Lone Rock Campground. It is a beach location for Boondocking (camping with no hookups) at $14 a night. We drove through all the RVs and Boats and as you can imagine Memorial Day weekend was packed. It was like a little city. It looked so FUN and it will be on our list the next time we visit.
Rainbow Bridge is one of the natural wonders of the world and is also the largest known natural bridge spanning 290 feet high by 270 feet wide. The bridge was formed by the erosion of sandstone from the flowing waters of Navajo Mountain to the Colorado River.
Unless you want to do a 14 mile hike through the Navajo Indian Reservation (after obtaining a permit), the best way to see this phenomenon is to take the boat tour we experienced on Lake Powell. The tour leaves from the Wahweap Marina and travels 50 miles to a boat dock. After reaching the dock, there is a 1.25 mile fairly easy round trip hike to the bridge. Remember to bring water especially in the summer because temperatures can be quite warm.
It’s important to note that the bridge is a religious and sacred site to many Native American tribes and should be treated with the respect it deserves when visiting.
Without the infamous Glen Canyon Dam, there would be no Lake Powell. At 710 feet, it is the second highest concrete-arched dam in the country, Hoover being the highest at 726 feet.
The dam was constructed in 1963 to harness the power of the Colorado River to provide water and power to millions in the West. While it opened in 1963, Lake Powell did not meet full water capacity until 1980. Glen Canyon Power Plant produces around five billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power annually. It is also worth noting that revenues from the production of hydropower helps fund many important environmental programs associated with Glen and Grand canyons.
There is a visitor center which my mechanical engineer husband truly enjoyed. It gives all the historical and working facts about the Dam. There are also guided tours available. If we had more time in the area, we definitely would have joined one of the tours. We did tour Hoover Dam years ago and it was truly amazing to see the inner workings of such a construction masterpiece.
Additional Bucket List Adventures Near Page, AZ
If you are fortunate enough to have the gift of more time in the area, there are many additional experiences awaiting you! These are places we wish we had more time to explore when in Page but that just means we will have to go back – oh darn!
On our way from Utah to Page, we drove through the edge of this natural wonder and it was breathtaking. This National Monument, which borders Bryce Canyon, is a diverse geologic treasure speckled with monoliths, slot canyons, natural bridges, and arches. At present, a Presidential proclamation has decreased the boundaries of this public land. For more information, click here.
Located in the Coyote Bluffs area of Grand Staircase, The Wave is a permit-only hike to preserve the delicate sandstone after it became such a popular hike. You definitely need to plan ahead if you want to hike this 2.6 mile fairly easy hike. Foot traffic is limited to 20 people per day. Half the daily permits are issued by lottery for dates four months out; the other 10 are given to walk-ins at the GSENM Visitor Center in Kanab for the following day — also by lottery if more than 10 people apply. Good luck!
If you are ambitious and have extra time, The Grand Canyon is only 2.5 hours from Page. If you haven’t seen this marvel, plan to also spend a couple days near the North or South Rim. Both are equal distance from Page.