Kayaking The Colorado

Water is our happy place, especially in the hot Arizona summers.  Lake Powell is one of our favorite places to cool off in the water.

We’ve enjoyed boating on the lake for over 20 years, and this was the first time we did anything on the other side of the dam.  Let me tell you, kayaking down the river is an absolute blast!

We didn’t even take the boat as this was a RZR side-by-side trip.  We wanted to see and do different things this time.  I wanted to do two things: take a slot canyon tour and do something on the river.  I figured it would be the float tour that starts near the bottom of the dam, but Mark found the kayak ride, and I’m so glad he did.

The ride actually starts at Lees Ferry, south of Lake Powell and on the other side of the river.  We toured the slot canyon the day before and left the campground bright and early.  The parking area was huge, large enough for both of us to back our RV plus trailer into a spot.  Lees Ferry Campground is just south of the launch point if you’re looking to stay the night before or after your ride.  It has 54 dry camping sites with nice views of the river and beautiful canyon.

Mark booked our kayak ride with Kayak Horseshoe Bend. The kayaks were already loaded and Jim the boat driver was waiting for us.  We had one other couple from Maryland on the boat with us.  They were going to kayak for a bit and stay overnight before kayaking back to this spot in the morning.  I love adventure but not a tent adventure anymore.

The ride up the river was so nice.  The water was like glass, perfect for water-skiing.  We asked Jim if he had a ski hiding in the boat for a quick slalom run; he laughed and said no. The canyon walls on the lake are impressive, but impressive isn’t the word for the view of those canyon walls from the level of the river.  We looked up as we went through Horseshoe Bend, and the people were so small way up there.

We continued on to just below the dam.  He held the boat there for a few minutes, letting us take pictures and giving us some dam facts as the tour boat float went past.

The river was flowing at a rate of 2 mph, and dropping us here would make for an estimated 8-hour trip.  Hmm, no. Our next stop was Kanab, UT, and we didn’t want to arrive in the dark.  We opted to be dropped between this point and Horseshoe Bend for a 5-hour float.  Our camping boat mates were dropped here, though, so we said goodbye to them as they packed their gear into their kayaks.

Jim dropped us near the Ancient Anasazi Petroglyphs next to the tour boat float.  He said the guide today was a good one, and we might be able to catch up to them.  That was all I needed.  I asked Mark to unload my kayak and off I went.

I caught up to the group at the petroglyphs.  Jim was right; this guy was good.  He talked about the different petroglyphs, what they meant, and the different eras they were carved.  He told the group about the small rock wall that was maybe a foot high.  The park service put the wall there to protect the petroglyphs, which in turn allowed sand to fall away and revealed even more carvings!  As the group slowly made their way back to their boat, I asked the guide a couple of questions, and he graciously answered all of them.

Back at our kayaks, we got in and shoved off.

The river bent to the left, and we were in the world-famous Horseshoe Bend.  When you’re standing at the top, the river doesn’t seem so far down.  Yes, you’re standing on the edge of the canyon wall looking down to the river below, and it’s a long way down.  I didn’t appreciate how far down until we were on the river looking up.  The river has carved a massive canyon.  The water at river level is several hundred feet lower than lake level.

We paddled along, taking breaks to let the current do the work.  The water was cool, almost cold.  Occasional splash fights with our paddles felt good.

At one point, we were behind Keith and Linda — the couple we met on the boat.  Their kayak was right in front of ours and the grab handle was in reach.  I held onto it  and let them drag us along.  Too bad Keith realized we were hooked onto them and the jig was up.

We stopped on a small beach for lunch.  Before Jim left us with our kayaks, he told us he’d be up and down the river most of the day and to just wave and/or holler if we needed help.  We were being funny and waved at him when we were stopped for lunch.  Joke was on us, because he was being funny back and danced like a running man as he cruised on by. 

Some parts were very shallow and we could easily see fish below.  Other parts were dark and deep.  We saw several birds but no bighorn sheep, which I was hoping to see.  The canyon opened up a bit just north of where we started at Lees Ferry.  Just north of that we saw a herd of wild horses along a skinny beach playing and drinking.

We paddled fast.  We pulled our kayaks out of the water in just under five hours.  A little sun, some exercise, lots of beauty, and big smiles as we stacked our kayaks.  I can’t wait to do it again.


Meet the Family
I’m Maureen Milne, F446881.  Mark and I are becoming empty nest veterans and you know what, we enjoy it!  We are always on the lookout for the next adventure, our friends call us the X-Games family. We are avid hikers, cyclists and skiers (both snow and water).  Mark does triathlons and we run several races a year.  We’ve been RVing together since we were teenagers and we love traveling with our two grown sons.  I share our RV adventures, RV friendly recipes, wonderful campgrounds and more on my blog, M&M Hit The Road.  You can also find our fun on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube. 

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