How to Paddle the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee’s Ferry
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When I first started researching stand up paddle boarding (SUP) on Lake Powell, I discovered the Colorado River was right next door flowing through Glen Canyon and around Horseshoe Bend. I'd never heard of either place before but when I found pictures of both online, I knew I had to figure out how to paddle the river - I was determined!
I started by asking local paddle board rental companies in Page if they offered SUP tours on the Colorado River, but none of them had access to the river. It was a little hard to believe that from Page there was a way into the vast canyon down to the river. I eventually found a YouTube video of paddle boarders on the same stretch of the Colorado River, so I knew it was possible! In the video, they reference Lee's Ferry, so I started researching how to paddle from the Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry and that's when I found Kayak the Colorado. They rent SUP boards at Lee's Ferry for your own use to paddle upstream or offer back haul service 12 miles upstream to Glen Canyon Dam. Launching from Lee's Ferry and paddling upstream to Horseshoe Bend wasn't exactly what I wanted, so the back haul service to the Glen Canyon Dam with a nice paddle downstream sounded perfect.
The day before our scheduled paddle down the Colorado River, we hiked to Horseshoe Bend to check out our paddle route from above. Pictures of Horseshoe Bend just don't do it justice - it truly exceeded my expectations. It’s a majestic sight with breathtaking views of the canyon. It’s a very popular tourist attraction, but surprisingly, still a very serene and peaceful place. There are plenty of rocks to hike and find a little serenity away from the crowd.
Lee's Ferry is about an hour drive from Page through Marble Canyon. It's a beautiful drive south with views of the canyon in the distance and crosses over the Navajo Bridge, which is another attraction I'd recommend checking out. You can walk across the bridge and take in views of the Colorado River with the Vermilion Cliffs in the background.
After enjoying the walk across the Navajo Bridge, we continued to Lee's Ferry to meet our captain for the back haul. Lee's Ferry has a day parking lot where we pumped up our inflatable paddle boards and loaded them onto the boat for the 12 mile journey upstream to the base of Glen Canyon Dam. The boat ride was pretty incredible, itself! When we arrived at Glen Canyon Dam, the captain helped us unload our boards to the launch beach and we were on our own from there!
Our plan was to paddle the first 6 miles to Horseshoe Bend and stop for lunch and pictures. We launched our boards on the river and the water was so calm with there was just the right amount of current flowing downstream. The water was clear and the canyon incredibly relaxing and peaceful. Outside of a couple passing boats, we were the only people paddling through this vast canyon. It's amazing how nature can make you feel so small. We paddled past many fish and a small waterfall along the way.
As we came around Horseshoe Bend, the winds picked up and the second half of our paddle was a little more intense than the first half! I'd highly recommend starting as early as possible in the day as the winds seem to pick up in the afternoon. We stopped at a couple of beaches along the way to take water and rest breaks.
Lake Powell is the most popular SUP attraction in Page, but the Colorado River paddle from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry should not be overlooked. It was one of the best experiences of my life and definitely a top paddle board spot in my book!