Kayaking Lake Powell

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
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Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
1,016
Considering a Lake Powell kayaking trip to prepare
for my summer trip river trip.

I know very little about Powell, the places to see, etc.

I want to do a 3 day 2 night (April 6-8) trip.
@Nick I know you've done some Lake Powell kayaking.

I'm looking for recommendations are where to launch
from, where to camp, places to see, etc.

Are there any administrative things to know about
Lake Powell?

Thanks
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,939
I have a lot to say on this topic. If you haven't already, check out this TR:
https://backcountrypost.com/threads/kayaking-lake-powell-moqui-canyon.2485/

In April you will have a ton of solitude. There will be fisherman near the main marinas but we see almost no one beyond them that time of year. You will also have very cold water that you won't want to spend any significant time in. That will make getting a good weather window even more important. Kayaking there is like being in the middle of the ocean sometimes because accessible shoreline can be miles away. If waves kicked up and you ended up in the water, you might not be able to get out. It could easily turn deadly.

The most common places to launch are at the main marinas: Bullfrog, Halls Crossing, Wahweap and Antelope Point. AP gives you closer access to Labyrinth Canyon and that part of the lake. Wahweap is probably the least interesting for a kayak trip, IMO, and also the busiest. That part of the lake has more large bays and beaches and less narrow canyons and good hiking compared to the central and north ends. Bullfrog is the closest marina to SLC and has pretty good access to good kayaking destinations. And I think you can launch at Stanton Creek primitive CG to get a closer paddle to Moqui if you head that way from Bullfrog.

You can also use primitive launch sites like Farley or Blue Notch at the north end. Farley puts you in right at the top of the lake (at it's current level). In fact, it might even be a river once you paddle out of 'Farley Bay'. The silt load from the Colorado has dropped upward of 180 feet of sediment along it's main channel south of Hite, leaving deep lakes behind in North Wash, Farley, White, Trachyte, etc. when it drops low. Last April the river flowed just past the mouth of Farley.

Blue Notch is a more adventurous dirt road that gets you access on the east side of Good Hope Bay, not too far south of Farley. If it were a busy time of the year, that would be a more appealing option as you would be able to get away from the crowds near the main marinas. Motor boat wake is not much fun for kayakers.

There are also a couple dirt roads on the Navajo reservation that meet the reservoir on the south side of the San Juan. I don't know about access to those though. One of them (Piute Farms) has been high and dry for years. The other (Piute Canyon) still gets pretty close to the lake, but I think the lower section has been reclaimed and you might be walking for a while at lower lake levels.

You do have to have a portable toilet to boat camp on Powell, even in a kayak. You can get around that by using wag bags. I don't think they have a stipulation about it being in an air tight container, but you'll want one anyway. A small ABS pipe groover works, or a bucket or dry box or something.

Not many other regs for kayak camping. You can gather driftwood and have fires just about anywhere under the high water mark once you are away from the marinas but do try to be thoughtful about it even though the water will likely reclaim it in the spring.

I'm personally not a huge fan of kayak trips on LP without power boat support. My first kayak trip there is what finally made me break down and buy a power boat. Unless you have a shuttle or a power boat, or man up like @powderglut and haul your boats down Hole-in-the-Rock, it's usually a pretty long paddle to get into the goods. In the off season, the paddling is much easier and the reflections are amazing because there are fewer power boats. But the winds are usually stronger in the spring and they should be respected out there, especially in small, human-powered crafts. And the water is so cold! There's something really special about soaking in 80˚ water with a cold beverage after a nice hike up a remote canyon. But to be there with warm water means being there with crowds, and to get away from them, you need to go far from the marinas. We found that 70 miles in at the top of the San Juan was just right in July. ;)
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
.
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
1,016
Thanks Nick. Not the experience I'm looking for. I think I'm gonna try Quail Creek state park for April.

Your suggestions got me looking around and I found a company that does a 5 day trip up the Escalante Arm.

Looking at the map I'd need a boat support to get the far east, but looks like could be a real fun multi day
trip in the summer: glyphs, ruins, sandy beaches, etc.

Ever been over there in your boat?

Thanks again.
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,939
Thanks Nick. Not the experience I'm looking for. I think I'm gonna try Quail Creek state park for April.

Your suggestions got me looking around and I found a company that does a 5 day trip up the Escalante Arm.

Looking at the map I'd need a boat support to get the far east, but looks like could be a real fun multi day
trip in the summer: glyphs, ruins, sandy beaches, etc.

Ever been over there in your boat?

Thanks again.

It is absolutely awesome out there. It's not as busy as the marinas but still quite a bit of traffic in the summer. But it is easier to find campsites in a kayak than in a power boat. I've been there many times in my boat. Here are a few...

https://backcountrypost.com/threads/return-to-fiftymile.5243/
https://backcountrypost.com/threads/escalante-on-the-rocks.5740/
https://backcountrypost.com/threads/escalante-arm.4650/

There are also great packrafting opportunities tying Willow, Davis and Fiftymile together with the reservoir. There are some trip reports here from @mattvogt7 and @BJett where they did just that.
 
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