Outdoors: Sweet spots to swim at Lake Powell

Outdoors: Sweet spots to swim at Lake Powell

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PAGE -- Betsey Bruner, former writer for the Arizona Daily Sun, was asking about the best place to swim in Lake Powell. This was a number of years ago during a visit to the newsroom. I didn’t have a good answer for her then, so Betsey, this is for you.

Even if I hadn’t lived in Page for 25 years, I would still attest to Lake Powell being my favorite freshwater swimming hole. Cancun and a few beaches along the Carolina coast are better, but the presence of sharks and jellyfish eliminates them from consideration for stress-free swimming.

To enter many lakes, one must wade through mud and muck to graduate into deep water. Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest artificial lake after Lake Mead, is different. Lake Powell was formed in 1964 when the redrock canyons of the Colorado River were flooded by Glen Canyon Dam. When you step into Lake Powell in places, you can walk over gently sloping Navajo sandstone and then you’re into 80-degree water on a 100-degree day.

(We are operating under the assumption that you are coming to Lake Powell without a boat. The lake has countless beaches.)

Back to Betsey’s question. Unlike the early days of Lake Powell, there is no designated swim area. Lifeguards do not patrol any of the 1,900 miles of shoreline.

“Visitors are welcome to swim in any area that is not a marina, launch ramp, or a location otherwise marked as closed to swimming,” said Katie Wood, a spokesperson for the National Park Service’s Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

The most populated swim area in the downlake region is Lone Rock Beach across the Utah line. Visitors may drive right to the beach. Coming in at No. 2 is the beach in Wahweap Bay just south of the Stateline launch ramp. The beach is served by a parking lot and a paved walk that takes the hiker/swimmer about halfway to the water. Wading through wet sand -- and floating litter -- can be involved in both locations.

“Like many of the more remote beaches in the park, we rely on our visitors to pack out what they pack in to help keep our park clean for all to enjoy,” Wood said. “At Wahweap Beach near Stateline launch ramp, there are trash receptacles and restrooms in the parking lot for visitor convenience. The beach itself is not graded, but services in the parking area are maintained on a routine basis.”

Fifteen years of drought have lowered the lake by 85 feet. The favorite spots of locals before the drought were the Coves, between Stateline and Lone Rock. Those beaches are long gone and have been replaced by sheer cliff drops.

But the addition of a boat launch ramp at Antelope Point in 1999, along with the extension of Navajo Route 222, effectively opened up many new swim beaches, including my favorite. If you are still with me, Betsey, it is an area between the launch ramp and marina. The spots can be reached by parking just off a gravel road that begins just above the launch ramp.

Orlandi Marcello’s family of five from Switzerland had taken the five-minute hike down to the lake one day last week. They had arrived at their motel in Page a few hours ahead of check-in and were directed to Antelope Point by the desk clerk. At the Antelope Point fee station, the toll worker directed them to this spot.

“The water is warm and nice,” Marcello said. “It’s a great spot, very beautiful. I’ve never been at a beach like this, with the rocks and scenery.”

The most convenient spot for swimmers is the swim platform at Antelope Point Marina, but it remained closed early this week for electrical repairs mandated by the park service. The area is served by golf carts from a large parking lot.

Hope this helps, Betsey.


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