Grotto & Balanced Rock


Aug 9, 2007
We've been doing this boat camping thing in Glen Canyon for a while now. Usually we have company, but for the first time ever, we finally did a trip with just me, my wife, and our dogs. It was the weekend after Memorial Day, which just so happens to be one of the best summer weekend to be out there. There were tons of great beach campsites available and not that many people. And unlike last year, no insane ice-filled flash floods - just hot, calm weather the whole time. We kayaked a lot, hiked a bit, and relaxed a WHOLE lot. I wasn't planning to post a TR of this, but who cares.

The first night we camped on an abandoned chunk of asphalt not far off of Hwy 89 in Arizona. It wasn't great, but when we just have to hop up and sleep in the boat, it's pretty easy.

We hit the water early the next day and had our pick of campsites ~40 miles up lake in the Wetherill/Grotto/Dungeon area of Glen Canyon. We spent the day setting up camp, then napping, then soaking, then napping some more.

Sage wanting me to get out of the water and throw something for her to chase after.

But just right for me to relax on Fat Boy Swim with a cocktail in hand. :)

Every trip Nikita makes it on lately seems to be a miracle to me. She had a great time.


Later that afternoon we took a tour of Rock Creek Canyon. It's a special place, even with all this misplaced water messing it up.


When we got back to camp, I inflated the IK and went for a short paddle with Sage and Nikita.

We had a fine sunset that night.

The next day we went up to Cathedral Canyon. It's quite spectacular but not like it should be with all that damn water in the way. But still, photos can't do the experience justice.

Back in camp later on, Sage and I went for a paddle to the top of Grotto Canyon.

Getting narrower...


I was hoping to walk up the canyon but this dryfall prevented me from getting out of the kayak and walking further.

And so we took the long way back to camp...

Audra had awoken from her slumber when I returned so I told her to hop in and go do the same paddle.

An hour or so later, I took the boat out and got some shots of her returning with Sage on the bow of Labyrinth.

We beached the kayak and went for an evening cruise.

Back in camp, our campsite caught the very last of the sunshine, making everything turn to gold late in the evening.

I spent the last of the sunshine floating on a noodle in the water taking in the scene. For perspective, the top of the mesa above camp was about 1400' up.

And another nice sunset.

The next morning we woke up and decided to move camp for our last night out. We had setup a tent but hadn't used it the whole time so it was an easy decision. After throwing everything onto the boat, we were on our way up lake. We found a nice spot in Balanced Rock Canyon with more great kayaking nearby. Nikita immediately went in for a soak.

And so did I.

I dug the new campsite. It was close to some good narrow canyons and a hike, plus there were no people or possible camps nearby. It was barely big enough for our boat. Here's a short video of the hour of noodling I did when we arrived.

After a while, Sage and I hopped in the kayak and went up canyon.

We explored short side canyons along the way. I believe this is the carmel formation. There are some extraordinary features and slot canyons in it.

The end of the reservoir in Balanced Rock.

I put on my pack and carried my shoes up the canyon.

After a while it started getting gravely so I put on my shoes.

Just around the bend I encountered this pool and chokestone. The pool was deep enough that it would have been a challenge. Totally doable, but I didn't feel like conquering it alone, so I turned around.

I explored a couple more side canyons on the way back. When I returned I found out that a huge houseboat full of certified, Grade AAA ass nuggets had moved in next door to us. There was no beach or decent place to beach, so they just broke out their power tools and drilled their anchors into the rock. Yes, it's illegal. No, it is not enforced. :(

Fortunately, we hadn't setup any camp since we were sleeping on the boat, so we tossed the kayak on board, pulled anchors, and moved up canyon to a new spot where we wouldn't have to listen to them all night. After the long paddle and camp move, I went for an even longer soak, followed by a nice walk on the slickrock above camp.

The new neighbors. They actually moved into our tiny campsite after we left. I bet they put even more holes into the slickrock over there. :(

That last night was just like the others but no color in the sky. But that was okay. The entire trip had unusually awesome weather. We slept out on the boat for the fourth night in a row. In the morning we pulled anchors and started the ~40 mile trip back to Wahweap. Not the most productive trip, but amongst the best when it comes to relaxation and rejuvenation.


Jul 5, 2014
Never thought of that, you basically have an RV when your boat is on the trailer. Who is the third dog? I love how Sage can balance on the bow of the kayak like that.


Aug 9, 2007
Never thought of that, you basically have an RV when your boat is on the trailer. Who is the third dog? I love how Sage can balance on the bow of the kayak like that.

Yeah, the only problem is I have to be super careful about pulling it down an unknown dirt road. You don't want to have to turn that train around without ample space. It makes finding a campsite the night before launch pretty difficult. The brown dog is Patina. She has been in some of my past Glen Canyon reports but not many of my other reports. She likes couches, beds and blankets and is not so much a fan of roughing it. She's 8 years old and we've had her most of her life.


Oct 27, 2013
I love your boat camping TRs. Keep 'em coming! I could look at pictures of cute dogs and great scenery all day, though with that in mind, my boss would probably prefer that you not post!


Aug 9, 2007
I love your boat camping TRs. Keep 'em coming! I could look at pictures of cute dogs and great scenery all day, though with that in mind, my boss would probably prefer that you not post!

Thanks! Expect one per month from now through October. The raft coming together in my garage might start putting up a fight for my vacation days next year.

File Jun 14, 9 35 00 PM.jpeg
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